Decision of a Chief Judge refusing to transfer a case is not appealable to the Court of Appeal

Tijani v. FBN Plc [2016] 12 NWLR (Pt. 1525) 83 at 103-104, per Oseji, JCA:

 

“It follows therefore that any exercise of the right of appeal as guaranteed by the Constitution must emanate or be identifiable with the decision of a court or tribunal and such must be within the definition of section 318 of the Constitution… It seems to me therefore that a letter written by a Chief Judge from the comfort of his office refusing a request by a party to a suit for the transfer of the suit from one court to another and which request was also through a letter by that party cannot fall within the category of the decision of a court as contemplated by the Constitution. It will therefore be naive to accept that a party to a suit before a trial court can appeal against an administrative act done by the Chief Judge and not while presiding over the matter in court…”

Notes:

The Chief Judge does not owe a party a duty to hear him prior to the order of transfer. See Aliyu v. Ibrahim [1992] 7 NWLR (Pt. 253) 361 at 373 cited in Tijani v. FBN Plc [2016] 12 NWLR (Pt. 1525) 83 at 103 paras. F-G.
While it is accepted that an administrative decision of a Chief Judge as in the above case cannot be appealable to the Court of Appeal, how will a party ventilate his grievance against such decision where same is reasonably overreaching? Firstly, the main reason for the request for transfer of the case may form a valid ground of appeal if ignored. For instance, if a party believes that the presiding Judge was being a judge in his own cause, then there is a breach of fundamental right to fair hearing. In some other cases, a report, if absolutely necessary, may be made to the National Judicial Council for appropriate action.


Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has worked with a number of startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.
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