Daily Law Tips (Tip 656) by Onyekachi Umah, Esq., LL.M, ACIArb(UK)

It is not strange to find applications and motions designed to deliberately delay courts and pervert the course of justice. Judgments of courts are full of warnings to legal practitioners, who connive with clients to abuse court processes. However, no matter the strength and weakness of an application/motion of a party or even how stupid and unprofessional it may seem, a court is bound to hear and rule on it. This work focuses on the reason courts must entertain and determine all applications before it.

Fair hearing is a fundamental human right and all parties to a case must be offered fair hearing. No party or person can be treated less by any court, no matter how stupid the party/person may sound or be perceived. After all, equality is equity and equity is substantial justice.

For sake of fair hearing, a court must hear and determine all applications brought before it. Failure to do so is a violation of fundamental human right of the concerned party (plaintiff/prosecutor/defendant). And the case itself, is a grave miscarriage of justice, waste of judicial time and a null and void.

Below are the words of the appellate courts on this issue;

1. ”It is trite law, that it is the duty of a court to entertain and decide on the merit, any application brought before it by any party, notwithstanding the perceived strength or weakness of such an application. The application may be downright stupid or unmeritorious, but it must be heard. A refusal by a Court to hear a motion is a breach of a right to fair hearing guaranteed under the Constitution. The refusal of the Court to hear the appellant’s motion or make pronouncement on it in its judgment is a violation of the appellant’s right to fair hearing and has occasioned a miscarriage of justice. See Newswatch Communications Limited v. Atta (supra) at 168 170, Onyekwuluje v. Animashaun (1996) 3 NWLR (Pt 439) 637, Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited & Anor. v. Chief Simeon Monokpo & Ors. (2003) 12 SCNJ 206 at 215, Nalsa & Team Associates v. N.N.P.C. (1991) 8 NWLR (Pt. 212) 652, Otapo v. Sunmonu (1987) 2 NWLR (Pt. 58) 587, Afro Continental (Nigeria) Limited & Anor. v. Co-operation Association of Professionals Incorporation (2003) 1 SCNJ 530 at 531.” Per ADAMU JAURO ,J.C.A ( Pp. 17-18, para. A ) Per ADAMU JAURO ,J.C.A ( Pp. 17-18, para. A ) in the case of IFEKAUDU v. IBEAGWA (2012) LPELR-14436(CA)

Every court in Nigeria has the duty to grant fair hearing to all persons and entertain all applications and motions before it. Where this is not done, the court is proceeding in error and its efforts will beget nothing plus nothing.

My authorities are:

1. The judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the case of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited & Anor. v. Chief Simeon Monokpo & Ors. (2003) 12 SCNJ 206 at 215,
2. The judgment of the Court of Appeal in the case of FIRST DEEPWATER DISCOVERY LTD & ANOR v. FAICECK PETROLEUM LTD (2020) LPELR-49783(CA)
3. The judgement of the Court of Appeal in the case of IFEKAUDU v. IBEAGWA (2012) LPELR-14436(CA)


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