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  • 2002-08-12
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Maskala v. Silli

YIOLA MASKALA

V

DIMBRIWE SILLI

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

MUHAMMADU LAWAL UWAIS, CJN ( Presided )

SALIHU MODDIBBO ALFA BELGORE, JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

SYLVESTER UMARU ONU, JSC

SAMSON ODEMWINGIE UWAIFO, JSC

AKINTOLA OLUFEMI EJIWUNMI, JSC

SC. 94/1996

FRIDAY, 28TH JUNE, 2002

APPEAL - Fresh issue on appeal - Whether leave of court is required to file and argue same on appeal - Section 213(3) of the 1979 Constitution

APPEAL - Grounds of appeal - Ground of law - Ground of fact - Distinction between

COURT - Area Courts - Composition of

COURT - Area Courts - Party alleging that same is not properly constituted -  Duty thereon

Issues:

1.            Whether the trial Civil Area Court Shelleng was properly constituted when it heard and determined this case. And if the answer is in the negative, whether the decision of the Court of Appeal which restored the said judgment did not amount to a nullity.

2.            Whether the grounds of appeal filed and argued before the lower court did not all raise issues of mixed law and facts. And if the answer is in the affirmative, can it be said that the leave granted

by a single Judge of the Adamawa High Court to the respondent herein to appeal against the said judgment was valid? and if not, did the Court of Appeal have jurisdiction to hear and determine the said appeal?

Facts:

The claim of the plaintiff in this suit is ownership of a piece of farmland in possession of the defendant for about 50 years. Plaintiff led evidence and called four witnesses who were unable to establish the plaintiff’s claim to the land.

The trial court found on preponderance of evidence that it was the defendant who had been on the land for about 50 years. The court also found that nobody had seen the appellant farming on the disputed land.

Dissatisfied with this decision of the trial court, the plaintiff appealed to the Upper Area Court which upheld the said decision and dismissed the appeal. On appeal to the High Court, the High Court reviewed the evidence of witnesses at the trial court. Allowing the appeal, the High Court set aside the decision of Upper Area Court.

On appeal to the Court of Appeal, the Court of Appeal restored the decision of the Upper Area Court. Aggrieved the plaintiff further appealed to the Supreme Court.