By S.O. Giwa Esq.

Statutory provision of 90days for determination of causes and matters by every court established under Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is not a strange law to all and sundry in Nigeria including legal minded people.

This statutory limitation of 90days for delivery of decision by every court established under Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) in writing on causes and matters is not a new introduction in the administration of justice in Nigeria.

This provision of 90days rule for delivery of judgment by every court in Nigeria is provided for under section 294(1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) which is in pari material with section 258(1) of the 1979 Constitution and its provision is to ensure speedy dispensation of justice.

This piece is written to x-ray the provision of section 294 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) with a view to finding out its application to appellate courts in Nigeria since the said provision relates to every court established under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

Before x-raying or conducting any surgical operation on the provision of section 294 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), it is fundamentally important to submit that the appellate courts in focus are Supreme Court and Court of Appeal established by the provisions of sections 230 and 237 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) and conferred with appellate jurisdictions by the provisions of sections 233 and 240 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) respectively.

The provision of section 294 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) in focus goes thus:

‘Every court established under this Constitution shall deliver   its decision in writing not later than ninety days after the   conclusion of evidence and final addresses and furnish all   parties to the cause or matter determined with duly       authenticated copies of the decision within seven days of the       delivery thereof.’ The underlines are the writer’s for emphasis

It is the writer’s stand that the above quoted provision of section 294 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is only applicable to courts that take evidence of parties’ witness or witnesses before determining causes and matters before them.

It is the writer’s further stand that courts which have appellate jurisdictions do not take evidence not to talk of conclusion of evidence mentioned in the above provision of the Constitution. How then can the provision of section 294 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) be said to be applicable to appellate courts in Nigeria?

It is no gainsaid that appellate jurisdiction conferred on the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal under the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended) is for the hearing of appeal and hearing of appeal involves the following:

  • Stating the decision of the Court appealed against with the date the said judgment was delivered
  • Stating the pages of the Record of Appeal where the said judgment can be found
  • Identifying Notice of Appeal filed and stating pages of the Record where copy of the said notice can be found
  • Stating the date the Record was transmitted to the Court or deemed transmitted to the Court
  • Identifying the Appellant’s Brief of Argument and Reply brief filed (if any) and adopting same

For Respondent

  • Identifying the Respondent’s brief of argument and adopting same

It is the writer’s further stand that hearing of appeal by the appellate courts does not include taking evidence not to talk of conclusion of evidence. Hence, the appellate courts though established under the Constitution are excluded from the 90days rule within which judgment is to be delivered by every court provided in section 294 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)

It is the writer’s further stand that with the phrase ‘after the conclusion of evidence’ in the provision of section 294 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended), the appellate courts are not statutorily bound to deliver their judgment within 90days since computation of time for delivery of their judgment starts from the time the appeal is heard and same is governed by the respective Appellate Court Rules.

It is to be noted that the provision of Order 20 rule 1 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016 that ‘the judgment of the Court shall be pronounced in open court either on the hearing of the appeal or at any subsequent time of which notice be given by the Registrar to the parties to the appeal’ gives the Court of Appeal liberty to decide time to deliver its judgment since there is no provision in the Constitution stating time within which the judgment of the appellate courts is to be delivered and no one has right to add to the said provision what it is not in the provision of section 294 (1) of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

It is finally advised and recommended at this juncture that if time within which appellate courts are to deliver their judgment in civil and criminal matters is of any importance to speedy administration of justice, provision stating time limit for the delivery of the judgment by the appellate courts be provided for in the Constitution or amendment be made to the amended Constitution in force.

S.O. Giwa Esq. a.k.a pentalk (Ibadan based Legal Practitioner), giwa_pentalk@yahoo.com 08035224192

Book On The Dynamics of Mediation, Negotiation & Arbitration In A Globalized World [Order Your Copy]

Price: ₦15,000 or £20 per copy [Hard Back– 21 chaps/700 pages]: Contact: info@idrinstitute.com, info@adrinafrica.org WhatsApp only: 0803-703-5989 : Voice Call Mobile: 0817-630-8030, 0909-965-1401; 0705-767-0347; 0912-173-4691 : Landline: 09-2913581; 09-2913499

[Now On Sale] Book On “International Arbitration & ADR And The Rule Of Law”

Price: ₦15,000 or £20 per copy [Hard Back– 20 chaps/715 pages] Contact Information Email: info@idrinstitute.cominfo@adrinafrica.org WhatsApp only: 0803-703-5989 Voice Call – Mobile: 0817-630-8030,+234-805-2128-456, +234-909-9651-401 Landline: 09-2913581, +234-9-2913499, +234-9-2919209 Office Address: 50 Julius Nyerere Crescent, [Next To The World Bank], Asokoro, Abuja – Nigeria. Bank Account DetailsBank Name: UBA Plc.; Account Name: International Dispute Resolution Institute; Account Number: 1014072579