Ade Adesomoju, Abuja
The Supreme Court on Friday put paid to the controversy on whether or not all the decisions of the National Industrial Court can be appealed.
Before the Supreme Court’s judgment on Friday, some users of the NIC believed that only appeals on the grounds of breach of fundamental rights could be appealed to the Court of Appeal.
But a five-man panel of the apex court, in a majority decision of four against one, held that the Court of Appeal had exclusive appellate jurisdiction over all decisions of the NIC.
The apex court held among others, that the jurisdiction of the Court of Appeal to hear and determine all civil appeals on decisions of the NIC was not limited to only fundamental human rights.
However, a member of the five-man panel, Justice Kumai Akaahs, gave a minority judgment disagreeing with the majority opinion.
He said he believed leave of the Court of Appeal was required to hear an appeal against NIC’s decisions on strictly civil matters.
Justice Akaahs said beside criminal and fundamental rights decisions, there was need for leave of the Court of Appeal to appeal purely civil cases.
Justice Centus Nweze, who read the lead (majority) judgment on Friday, identified the key issue to be determined as, “Whether the Court of Appeal, as an appellate court created by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, has the jurisdiction, to the exclusion of any other court of law in Nigeria, to hear and determine appeals arising from decisions of the NIC.”
Justice Nweze ruled, “The lower court, that is, the Court of Appeal, has the jurisdiction, to the exclusion of any other court in Nigeria, to hear and determine all appeals arising from the decisions of the trial court.
“No constitutional provision expressly divested the said Court of Appeal of its appellate jurisdiction over all decisions on civil matters emanating from the trial court.
“And, as a corollary, the jurisdiction of the court to hear and determine all civil appeal on decisions of the National Industrial Court is not limited to only fundamental human rights.
“These shall be the opinions of this court and shall be transmitted to the Lagos division of the Court of Appeal for its guidance in determining the appeal before it.”
The judgment of the apex court was on an appeal marked SC/885/2014.
It was filed by Skye Bank Plc against Victor Anaemem Iwu, as respondent.
The appeal was a referral of some constitutional questions for the Supreme Court’s determination, to guide the Court of Appeal, Lagos in deciding a pending case before it.
Source: The Punch