Reported by Kehinde Deji-Idowu
13th July, 2017
The last is yet to be heard in respect of the suit instituted by the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti against Ekiti State Government in respect of Education Development Levy of N1,000 (One Thousand Naira) imposed on every pupil and student in Kindergarten, Nursery and Primary, and Secondary of Private Schools in Ekiti State. The Catholic Diocese of Ekiti approached the High Court of Ekiti State via Originating Summons to determine whether the levy so imposed is within the constitutional duty of the State Government having regards to the provisions of section 4(7) and item 9 of Part II of the Second Schedule of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria as amended, and item 8 of Part II of the TAXES AND LEVIES (APPROVED LIST FOR COLLECTION) ACT, CAP T2 LAWS OF THE FEDERATION 2004.
In its judgment of 13th October 2016, the High Court of Ekiti State per Hon. Justice C.I. Akintayo held that though the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti had cause of action, the said Diocese did not come properly before the court as its suit was commenced by Originating Summons instead of Writ of Summons. Dissatisfied with the said judgment, the said Catholic Diocese of Ekiti filed a six grounds of Notice of Appeal on 5th January 2017 and had Records of Appeal compiled and transmitted to the Court of Appeal on 6th January 2017. The State Government filed a Notice of Cross Appeal on 17th January 2017. Upon being served with the Appellant Brief dated 6th February 2017, the Ekiti State Government filed its Respondent Brief and Cross Appellant Brief on the 1st March 2017. The Catholic Diocese of Ekiti filed a reply to the Respondent Brief and therein raised issue of incompetency of the said Respondent Brief on the ground that the said Brief violated the extant rules governing respondent brief which must only respond to the questions raised in the appellant brief in the circumstance that there is no cross appeal. The Catholic Diocese of Ekiti also filed a Preliminary Objection to the Notice of Cross Appeal filed on the ground the said Notice of Cross Appeal was filed out of time. In response to this development, the State Government filed a motion for extension of time claiming that the delay in filling the Notice of Cross Appeal within time was due to circumstances beyond its control coupled with the fact that the judgment of the lower court was not readily available until the expiration of the time within which to file same. The Catholic Diocese of Ekiti opposed the motion. And ruling was adjourned to today.
In a unanimous decision, the Court of Appeal dismissed the application of the State Government for extension of time on the ground that the two mandatory requirements under Order 6 Rules (1) & (9) of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016. were not fulfilled. The Court also dismissed the Notice of Cross Appeal filed by the State Government.
With this ruling, the coast is now clear for determination of the Appeal filed by the Catholic Diocese of Ekiti. Parties have agreed to meet again in the same court on the 27th September 2017 for adoption of addresses towards determining the substantive appeal.
Matter adjourned to 27th September 2017.