Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Miyatti Allah Kautal Hore Social-Cultural Association has approached the Abuja division of the Court of Appeal to set aside the July 4, judgment of the Federal High Court, Abuja, which rejected their request to void the Anti-Open Grazing Law passed by the Benue State House of Assembly.
In a notice of appeal it filed by Aliyu Ahmed, the appellants, Alhaji Abdullahi Bodojo and Engr Saleh Alhassan, further prayed the court to order the Federal High Court to re-assign the case to another judge to heard.
Justice Okon Abang of the Federal High Court, Abuja had in the July 4, 2019 judgment dismissed the suit earlier filed by the group on the grounds that they had no valid originating summons before the court.
Abang awarded N100,000 cost in favour of each of the 14 defendants in the case, which he said must first be paid by the plaintiffs before they could take any further steps.
In their notice of appeal filed on July 30, 2019, the appellants raised 10 grounds of appeal.
The appellants argued that the lower court was in error in holding that they had no valid originating summons even when they filed an amended one.
“The appellants filed an irregular and voidable amended originating summons on the 31th May, 2019 without payment of the default tees.
“ Yet the lower court held that the originating summons is invalid and a nullity.
“It is trite law that a mistake of counsel cannot be visited on the litigant especially when it is pardonable and the irregular amended process filed on the May 31, 2019 is before the court and the lower court have the duty to ensure that the suit of the appellants is heard on the merit.
“The lower court ought not to shut out a litigant by dismissing his claim when the process of court is amended in error without seeking extension of time to amend same.
“More so, all the respondents have filed their various counter affidavits against the originating summons.
“The failure to pay the default fees or filing fees for the amended originating summons filed on May 31 only made it at worst a voidable and not void or a nullity.
“The lower court can order the payment of the default fees pursuant to the relevant rules of the lower court.
“The under assessment or failure of payment of default filing fees cannot be a basis of punishing the litigant with an order of dismissal of the suit.