The Court of Appeal, sitting in Ado-Ekiti, Ekiti State capital, has set aside the judgment of an Ekiti State High Court, which struck out a suit by the Catholic Church on the education tax imposed on pupils by the government.
The court, which refused to consider other grounds of appeal before it, ordered parties back to the lower court.
Dissatisfied with the judgment delivered by Justice Cornelius Akintayo on October 13, 2016, Incorporated Trustees of Catholic Diocese of Ekiti filed an appeal, anchored on five grounds.
The lower court struck out the suit on the grounds that the plaintiffs/claimants brought the case by way of originating summons rather than writ of summons.
The claimants averred that it was illegal and unconstitutional for the government to impose Education Development Levy on pupils in public and private schools, stressing that it violated the Universal Basic Education Law.
The appellate court, in a judgment delivered yesterday by Justice Paul Elechi, held that the appeal had merit, and set aside the judgment of the lower court.
Justice Elechi held that the High Court was wrong to have struck out the case based on technicalities without considering the issues.
The judge ordered that the file be returned to the chief judge to be re-assigned for expeditious hearing, and in the proper way of filing a writ of summons.
He held that the appropriate way to initiate the case was by a writ of summons, saying it was the reliefs that the court would examine to determine whether the case was by an originating summons or by a writ of summons.
“There are serious issues of dispute in the suit at hand”, hence it could not be initiated by an originating summons.
The judge said that by not bringing the suit via originating summons was not enough to declare the suit incompetent.
“Facts in the instant case commenced by an originating summons are riotous. It is not enough to declare the action incompetent, as done by the trial court. That was not enough to declare the suit incompetent. The proper way was to order parties to come by way of writ of summons and not by striking out the applicant’s case.”
Addressing reporters after the verdict, Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice Mr. Kolapo Kolade said the Appeal Court was right to have struck out the case.
Counsel to appellants Chief Anthony Adeniyi said he was dissatisfied with the judgment, arguing that the court was supposed to have determined the legality of the case.