MBABA, J.C.A., in AGODI v. ANYANWU & ORS (2014) LPELR-23746(CA) advised that Counsel should, be willing, ready and humble enough to ask questions and consult books and experienced colleagues, when in doubt of what to do… As lawyers, we can never graduate from learning, though we usually pride ourselves as “learned”.
We, in fact, learn everyday, and the court of law, where we practice our trade, has always been an informal classroom for both lawyers and judges to update their knowledge. A lawyer/judge who closes his mind to learning or thinks he has known enough, is either “lying-in-state” (to be lowered down, six feet, to a permanent resting place) or is about to do so! That is to say that while we are alive, we cannot stop learning.
I have read Kelechi Chukwu‘s Book titled the “IRREPROACHABLE MODE OF SIGNING DOCUMENTS AND COURT PROCESSES IN NIGERIA” and I agree that it is an indispensible book for lawyers and I shall demonstrate it with three recent cases from the Apex court in Nigeria.
- ONYEKWULUJE & ANOR v. ANIMASHAUN & ANOR (2019) LPELR-46528(SC) the Supreme Court Per BAGE, J.S.C. at Pp. 25-28, Paras. D-B held:
From the records, two processes were affected by this Virus. (1) The Appellants claim filed 30th day of January, 1981 at the trial Court upon which this action was commenced was signed by a Law firm “EZEBUILO UMEADI & CO.” See page 2 of the record of appeal; (2) In the same vein, the Respondents Notice and Grounds of Appeal dated the 8th day of March, 1985 on which the Respondents appealed to the Court of Appeal against the judgment of the trial Court as originated and signed by a Law firm. “S. A. ANIMASHAUN AND COMPANY”. See pages 88 to 90 of the record of appeal. These two processes are both initiating processes upon which this action was commenced. The defect in both processes is extrinsic, to the effect that they were signed by a person not ascertainable in Law and procedure. The entire appeal collapses, and it is hereby struck out. Also the defective claim at the trial Court must be struck out, and it is hereby struck out.”
- ARUEZE & ORS v. NWAUKONI (2018) LPELR-46352(SC) Per AKA’AHS, J.S.C. Pp. 15-16, Paras. B-B held:
He signed “for L. E. Eguakun Esq” but he did not write his name… The preliminary objection is therefore sustained and the said amended statement of claim is struck out as being incompetent. All the proceedings and judgment in the trial Court have no base on which they were conducted. They are a nullity and are hereby set aside. Similarly the Notice of Appeal to the Court of Appeal and the judgment of that Court are incompetent and accordingly set aside. Equally the notice of Appeal to this Court is incompetent and same is struck out.”
- NNALIMUO & ORS v. ELODUMUO & ORS (2018) LPELR-43898(SC) Per AUGIE, J.S.C. (Pp. 11-23, Paras. B-D) held:
The CLAIM was signed by “EZEBILO UMEADI & IKEJANI’, a law firm, and on the authority of Okafor V. Nweke (supra), and other decided cases of this Court, the said CLAIM signed by a law firm is incompetent in law, and it is, therefore, a nullity…. As much as I sympathize with the Respondents in this case that was filed in July 1971, over 46 years ago, I agree with the Appellants that sentiments have no place in judicial deliberations
It is a pity that after 46 odd years, a case could be struck out for lack of signing or improper signing of same. Signing of documents & particularly originating court Processes in Nigeria is the foundation of every matter. Failure to properly sign a charge sheet, writ of summons, motions, written address, affidavit, Notice of appeal among others renders one’s case dead on arrival. Laymen have the constitutional right to file their personal suits & represent themselves in court but most of them hire Lawyers who are presumed to be Experts in this field. Regrettably, some suits are lost for lack of proper signing of court documents and processes. How would a counsel explain to his client that he lost his case because he did not sign or properly sign the court process? Kelechi Chukwu Esq took pain to pen down all you need to know and how to sign court processes in Nigeria without reproach. This book is for the young and old members of the Legal Profession & corporate practitioners. It is written to enable practitioners avert future legal mistakes and disaster which would cost their clients and organizations a fortune.
S. O. Uzuh, Esq is a legal practitioner based in Ikoyi, Lagos and can be reached vide [email protected]
D. C. Oti, Esq. As Co writer of the Review.
The book is now available for sale and could be delivered to any jurisdiction within Nigeria. It will also be available and on sale at the upcoming NBA Annual General conference in Lagos. For enquiries and purchase, call: 08064032976, 07037211891, 08032135793, 08038956420 07061122878, 07068610149 and 08069398878. 08060160740, 08060160740. Or send an email to [email protected]