Appeal Court Dismisses Justice Olotu’s Objection Challenging Extension of Time to Reply Cross Appeal


Adibe Emenyonu in Benin City

The Court of Appeal in Benin City, Edo State has dismissed the objection of Justice Gladys Olotu, challenging the extension of time sought by Leaders and Company, Ltd to file its reply to the cross appeal by the respondent.

The appellate court panel headed by Justice P. M. Ekpe, however reserved ruling on the second motion by Chief Aghimien (SAN), to amend the grounds of appeal which sought to set aside the ruling and judgment by the High Court in Benin which awarded N100 million against Leaders & Company, publishers of THISDAY, in a libel suit brought before it by Justice Olotu.

The lower court in Benin City, had in 2015 dismissed the objection of Counsel to Leaders and Co Ltd, that the firm cannot be separated from THISDAY because it is the publisher of the newspaper titles, saying Aghimien only argued for THISDAY and not Leaders and Company which Justice Olotu sued.

It was these two issues (the ruling and judgment) by the High Court in Benin within three months it was brought before it that prompted THISDAY media to file an appeal against the ruling and judgment of the lower court.

The first motion by Aghimien seeks for an extension of time to reply the cross appeal filed by the lawyer to Olotu, asking that the appeal court dismiss THISDAY media’s grounds of appeal.

The second motion seeks to amend the grounds of appeal challenging the judgment of the High Court against THISDAY, published by Leaders and Co. Ltd.

Arguing his motions, Aghimien stated that in the cross appeal filed by Evbobamen (SAN), he was not copied and so, needed an extension of time to give his reply.

He said “there are two separate motions of which judgment was given the same day and we have to appeal that it was not proper. So we had to file this motion.”

But in his preliminary objection, Chief Evbobamien (SAN) said a careful perusal of the motion shows that there are three names against the document without an indication of actually who signed it.

He said the law says it must be sustained that failure to properly sign a document makes the process incompetent.

He relied his argument on a Supreme Court ruling between GTBank Plc and Innoson Ltd, as well as Chief Gabriel Igbinedion and 2 Others Umoh Asuquo Antia, SC 96/2016.

But in his counter argument, Aghimien said the name of who signed the document was conspicuously ticked in the document he supplied.

In their ruling, the three-man panel of justices namely Justice P. M. Ekpe, Justice M. N. Oniyangi and Justice M. A. Adume, however averred that the motion was properly signed.

Reading the ruling on behalf of others, Justice Ekpe said: “The document before us showed that the name of the counsel that signed the document is carefully identified. The motion is proper before the court and is granted accordingly.”

Although no adjournment date was given, the court granted Ahimien seven days to file his reply to the cross appellant brief while reserving ruling on the second motion, which seeks to amend the applicant’s grounds of appeal.