Just Decided – Latest Supreme Court Cases – Jan 31st, 2014.

ORHENA ADUGU GBILEVE & ANOR VS MRS. NGUNAN ADDINGI & ANOR
 
LEGALPEDIA  CITATION: LER[2014] SC 193/2012
 
AREAS OF LAW: PRE-ELECTION MATTER, JURISDICTION, DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE
SUMMARY OF FACT
The Plaintiff/1st Respondent won the primaries as the candidate to represent Buruku Constituency of Benue State House of Assembly in the general election. Irrespective of the press release confirming the Plaintiff/1st Respondent’s emergence as the winner, the State Secretariat of the party replaced her name with the 1st Respondent/Appellant’s name as having won the election and a certificate of return was issued to him. Dissatisfied, Plaintiff/1st Respondent filed an originating summons at the Federal High Court, for the determination of five questions and the grant of seven reliefs. The suit was resolved on the basis of the affidavit evidence before the Court and judgment was entered in favour of the Plaintiff/1st Respondent. The Court ordered that the Plaintiff/1st Respondent’s name be returned as the lawful aspirant and that she should be issued with a certificate of return. The Respondents/Appellants’ appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed and the judgment of the trial court affirmed, hence they  further appealed to the Supreme Court.
HELD
Appeal dismissed
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
Whether the lower court was correct to have affirmed the jurisdiction of the trial court to entertain 1st Respondent’s suit (Grounds 6 & 7)
Having regards to the facts and evidence adduced in this case coupled with the applicable law, did the 1st Respondent prove her case to be entitled to judgment as decided by the trial court and affirmed by the lower court? (Grounds 1, 5 & 8)
Whether the lower court acted correctly in agreeing with the trial court when it failed or refused to order pleadings and / or take oral evidence to resolve the obvious material conflicts in the competing affidavits and counter affidavit of the parties before proceeding to judgment against the appellants. (Grounds 2)
RATIOS
 
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE –WHEN ORAL EVIDENCE CAN BE DISPENSED WITH IN RESOLVING CONFLICTS IN EVIDENCE
“Where the conflicting evidence can be resolved from the documentary evidence the need to call oral evidence becomes unnecessary”. PER UMAI BAYANG AKAAHS
 
DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE-PURPOSE OF
“Documentary evidence is used as a hanger from which to test the veracity of the evidence whether given orally or by deposition”. PER UMAI BAYANG AKAAHS
 
EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE – WHEN AN APPELLATE COURT CANNOT INTEREFERE
“Where a court of trial unquestionably evaluates the evidence and justifiably appraises the facts, what the Court of Appeal ought to do is to find out whether there is evidence on record on which the trial Court could have acted. Once there is sufficient evidence on record from which the trial court arrived at its findings of fact, the appellate court cannot interfere”.   PER UMAI BAYANG AKAAHS
CONCURRENT FINDINGS OF LOWER COURT – ATTITUDE OF THE SUPREME COURT- WHEN TO  DISTURB
“The law is now fully established that the Supreme Court will not normally disturb the concurrent findings of two lower courts except it is shown that it has occasioned a miscarriage of justice or it is perversely arrived at”.  PER CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI
 
ISSUE OF JURISDICTION-WHERE AN ORIGINATING PROCESS DOES NOT CONFER JURISDICTION ON A TRIAL COURT – EFFECT ON PROCEEDINGS
“The issue of the jurisdiction of the trial court to entertain the originating summons ab initio is fundamental to the competence of the appeal before this court. Where the originating process at the trial court is found not to confer jurisdiction on the court, the proceedings are a nullity. The absence of jurisdiction has a ripple effect and taints the appellate courts, which would equally lack jurisdiction to entertain appeals arising from the null proceedings. PER KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE -EKUN
JURISDICTION OF COURT – LACK OF – WHETHER PARTIES CAN CONFER JURISDICTION BY CONSENT OR ACQUIESCENCE
“It is also trite that where the court lacks jurisdiction, parties cannot confer jurisdiction by consent or acquiescence”. PER KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE -EKUN
 
 
CASE MENTIONED
Adesola Vs Abidoye (1999) 14 NWLR (Pt.637) 28:
Akpagbue VS Ogu (1976) 6 SC. 63
Amadi VS Nwosu (1992) 5 NWLR (Pt.241) 273;
Bunge VS Gov. River State (2006) 12 NWLR (Pt. 995) 573″
Enang VS Adu (1981) 11 – 12 SC 25;
Ezekwesili VS Agbapuonwu (2003) 9 NWLR (PT. 825)337;
Fashanu VS Adekoya (1974) 6 SC. 84;(1974) 1 ALL NLR (Pt.l) 35;
Jadesimi Vs Okotie-Eboh (1986) 1 NWLR (Pt.16) 264;
Obiuweubi Vs CBN (2011) 7 NWLR (Pt.1247) 465
Onyejekwe V. The State (1992) 3 NWLR (Pt. 230) 444
Posu V. State (2011) All FWLR (Pt. 565) 234
SLB Consortium Ltd. Vs NNPC (2011) 9 NWLR (Pt.1252) 317
Woluchem VS Gudi (1981) 5 SC. 291;
 
STATUTES REFERRED TO
Electoral Act 2010 (as amended)
The Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended)
AKUNNE BOSA MBANEFO VS. MOFUNANYA ACBU & ANOR
                 LEGALPEDIA  CITATION: LER[2014] SC 179/2007
AREAS OF LAWLAND LAW-CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY, TRESPASS, APPEAL, LAW OF EVIDENCE-BURDEN OF PROOF
SUMMARY OF FACT:
The Plaintiff/Appellant instituted a claim against the 1st and 2nd Defendants/Respondents that after selling the land in dispute to him, the Defendants/Respondents failed to obtain Governor’s consent under Section 22 of the Land use Act but have resold the land to another person.  The trial Court struck out the name of the 2nd Defendant/Respondent from the suit and entered judgment for the Plaintiff/Appellant. Dissatisfied, the 2nd Defendant/Respondent appealed to Court of Appeal whiles the Plaintiff/Appellant also cross-appealed. The lower Court dismissed the Plaintiff/Appellant’s cross-appeal and dismissed the case of the trial court. Dissatisfied, the Plaintiff/Appellant has appealed to Supreme Court.
HELD:
Appeal dismissed.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:
Were the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal not grossly in error when they held that in the circumstances of this case it was the duty of the purchaser of land to obtain the consent of the Governor
Were the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal not grossly in error when they held that the appellant was put in possession of the land and therefore had taken title to the land
Were the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal not grossly in error when they held that the 1st respondent only acted as a legal practitioner in the sale of land transaction in this case
RATIOS:
CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY-WHEN GOVERNOR’S CONSENT IS REQUIRED
“It is clear that it is only whenever certificate of Occupancy has been granted or is deemed granted and a holder of such certificate is desirous to transfer, assign, mortgage, lease and sublease of the land that is subject of such certificate that the Governor’s consent is required under the said section”. PER CHUKWUMA- ENE J.S.C.
TRESPASS -MEANING OF- WHEN AN ACTION IN TRESPASS WILL LIE
“It is settled law that trespass is an infraction of the right of exclusive possession to land and as the appellant there has been put in exclusive possession of the aforesaid land, an action in trespass is certainly maintainable by him by virtue of his rights against any trespass who in law cannot claim to be in possession by mere entry which is complained of by the appellant”. PER CHUKWUMA-ENE J.S.C.
BURDEN OF PROOF –ON WHO LIES
“It is trite that he who asserts must prove”. PER AKAAHS, JSC
ISSUES-IMPROPRIETY OF PARTIES RAISING NEW ISSUES ON APPEAL
“The law is trite that a party will not be allowed to introduce an issue in this Court which was not raised and pursued in the Courts below thereby setting up an entirely new case in his appeal before his Court”. PER MOHAMMED, JSC
CASES MENTIONED:
Adegoke Motors Ltd. V. Adesanya (1989) 3 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 109) 250 at 266
Owoniboys Technical Services V. Union Bank of Nigeria (2003) 15 NWLR (Pt. 844)545 at 583
Philips v. Ogundipe (1967) 1 ANLR 258
STATUTES REFERRED TO:

The Land Use Act, 1979

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PAULINUS CHUKWU & 4 ORS V MATTHEW AKPELU

SUBJECT-MATTER

 LAND LAW-LAW OF EVIDENCE-WORDS AND PHRASES

CAUSE OF ACTION- WHAT DETERMINES A CAUSE OF ACTION

FACTS ADMITTED- WHETHER FACTS ADMITTED NEED TO BE PROVED

ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION: FACTORS TO BE CONSIDERED FOR AN ISSUE TO BE COMPETENT FOR DETERMINATION

INTERFERENCE BY THE APPELLATE COURT- WHEN THE APPELLATE COURT WOULD INTERFERE WITH THE FINDINGS OF THE TRIAL COURT

BURDEN OF PROOF-ON WHOM LIES THE BURDEN OF PROOF IN A CLAIM FOR TRESPASS COUPLED WITH CLAIM FOR AN INJUNCTION

TRESPASS TO LAND-WHAT IS TRESPASS

TRESPASS TO LAND-ON WHOSE INSTANCES IS TRESPASS TO LAND ACTIONABLE

CAUSE OF ACTION- WHAT THE PHRASE” CAUSE OF ACTION” DENOTE

FACTS ADMITTED-WHETHER FACTS ADMITTED NEED TO BE PROVED

 “The established principle of law is well founded and settled that facts admitted need no proof. When a fact is pleaded by the plaintiff and admitted by the defendant, evidence on the admitted fact is irrelevant and unnecessary. There is no dispute on a fact which is admitted.” PER CLARA-BATA OGUNBIYI, J.S.C

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EFFFIONG ODIONG MKPINANG & ORS V CHIEF EFFION NDEM& ORS

SUBJECT MATTER

LANDLAW – DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND

PROOF OF DECLARATION OF TITLE – NO OF MEANS TO PROOVE THAT CAN BE ADOPTED

EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE – DETERMINATION

PROOF OF DECLARATION OF TITLE – WHAT DETERMINES  WHETHER A PLAINTIFF HAS PROVED HIS CASE

It is trite that it is the pleadings and evidence adduced by a plaintiff for declaration of title that determines whether he has proved his case or not. In other words, proof of a claim for a declaration of title by means of traditional evidence is not mutually exclusive with other means of proving the claim” Per KUMAI BYANG AKA’AHS, JSC

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GOLDMARK NIGERIA LIMITED V. IBAFON COMPANY LIMITED

SUBJECT MATTER

CHIEFTANCY MATTERS

JURISDICTION – HOW DETERMINED

LANDLAW – COMPULSORY ACQUISITION OF PROPERTY

The effect of the words of an amending law or enactment is “in futuro” and therefore it could not by necessary implication have the effect of putting a stop to proceedings which had already been validly commenced.”  Per ADEKEYE JSC

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MILITARY GOVERNOR OF LAGOS STATE V. ADEBAYO ADEYIGA

SUBJECT MATTER

LAND LAW

FAIR HEARING – DETERMINATION OF IN CIVIL CASES

EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE –ROLE OF COURT

MANDATORY INJUNCTION – GRANT OF

HOLIDAYS – WHETHER CONSTITUTIONAL FOR THE COURT TO SIT

The court will always invoke its equitable jurisdiction and exercise its discretion to grant a mandatory injunction where the injury done to the plaintiff cannot be estimated and sufficiently compensated by damages and the injury to the plaintiff is so serious and material that the restoration of things to their former condition is the only method whereby justice can be adequately donePER ADEKEYE JSC

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AHMADU MAKUN V FEDERAL UNIVERSITY OF TECHNOLOGY MINNA

SUBJECT-MATTER – LANDLAW

EVIDENCE – Estoppel per rem judicatam; effect of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE – Need for counsel to conduct his brief conscientiously

Once counsel is briefed to handle a case, he has complete control over the case, to decide in his own understanding of the law how to conduct the case or handle the brief. He can compromise the case, or submit to judgment. The remedy open to the litigant is to withdraw the brief from him and seek the services of another counsel or sue for professional negligence.’

Per Rhodes-Vivour J.S.C

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RESSEL L.Y. DAKOLO V GREGORY REWANE-DAKOLO

SUBJECT-MATTERLAND LAW

EVIDENCE – Estoppel per res judicata; when pleaded

EVIDENCE – Identity of disputed land; how resolved

EVIDENCE – Title to land; how proved

Where the identity of the land is in dispute it is resolved by each side producing survey plans supported by credible evidence to satisfy the court of the land or property in issue.”

Per Rhodes-Vivour J.S.C

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OGED OVUNWO & ANOR V IHEANYICHUKWU WOKO & 2 ORS

SUBJECT MATTER

LAND LAW

COURT- DUTY OF: CONSEQUNCE OF FAILURE TO CARRY OUT THE DUTY.

COURT- APPELLATE COURT- DUTY OF WHERE A LOWER COURT HAS FAILED TO RESOLVE A VITAL ISSUE PUT BEFORE IT.

JUDGMENT- CONTENT OF

FAIR HEARING – CONSEQUENCE OF BREACH OF IN A PROCEEDING.

Fair-hearing is a fundamental constitutional right as entrenched in the 1999 constitution as amended. And the breach of fair-hearing in any proceedings without more vitiates such proceedings in their entirety; it renders the entire proceedings null and void

Per C.M. Chukwuma-Eneh J.S.C.

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WACHUKWU & ANOR v. OWUNWANNE & ANOR.

SUBJECT MATTER:

LAND LAW.

Appeals-  Ground of Appeal- When will it be incompetent.

Evidence-  Proof of traditional history.

Practice and Procedure- When the Supreme Court will interfere with the concurrent decisions of two lower courts.

Words and Phrases-     Distinction between ‘Contradiction’ and ‘Discrepancy’ .

‘It is not all contradictions that result in the rejection of the evidence of the witness. It is only those that are material and result in miscarriage of justice that would warrant such a rejection of evidence’

I. T. MUHAMMAD, JSC.

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OMODELE ASHABI EYA & ORS V. ALHAJA RISIKATU OLOPADE & ANOR

Subject Matter

 Land law

Land law – Declaration of title

Practice and procedure – Statement of claim – effect of relief in writ of summons not claimed in statement of claim

Appeal – Effect of incompetent ground of appeal.

Evidence – Statement on oath – duty of the trial court to decide between two versions

Criminal Law – Allegation of crime in a civil suit – proof must be beyond reasonable doubt

Criminal law – Element of fraud or forgery – particulars must be pleaded.

“The law is long settled that a plaintiff must succeed on the strength of his case and not on the weakness of the defence except where the case of the defence supports that of the plaintiff.”

Per Walter Samuel Nkanu Onnoghen – JSC

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