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Alibo v. Okusin

1.         CHIEF OLUNTA ALIBO

2.         MR. MELFORD AGALA

3.         MR. B. S. BAGSHAW

4.         MR. HAMILTON H. DAWARI

( for themselves and on behalf of Alibo family of

Okusin Compound of Ido in Degemal Local

Government Area of Rivers State)

5.         CHIEF FELIX OWUKIO EGWEW

6.         CHIEF KAIZER OPUWARIBOKO

7.         CHIEF LONDON D. ESUKU

8.         CHIEF GEORGE PRABO

9.         CHIEF SUNDAY OYIBO

10.     CHIEF ROBINSON BIBI

11.     CHIEF CAPTAIN OYIBO

12.     MR. CAPTAIN OYIBO

( for themselves and on behalf of Ido Council of Chiefs)

V

1.         CHIEF BENJAMIN OKUSIN

2.         MR. GRAHAM D. OWUKOLO

3.         BENETH A. JOHNBULL

4.         MR. GIDEON B. HARRY

( for themselves and on behalf of Oko Family on

Okusin Compound of Ido in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State)

COURT OF APPEAL

( PORT HARCOURT DIVISION )

JAMES OGENYI OGEBE, JCA ( Presided and Read the Lead Judgment )

MICHAEL EYARUOMA AKPIROROH, JCA

ABOYI JOHN IKONGBEH, JCA

CA/PH/6/99

TUESDAY, 29TH JANUARY, 2002

APPEAL - Findings of fact made by trial court - When appellate court may disturb

ARBITRATION - Native arbitration - Parties who submit themselves to native arbitration - Whether precluded by doctrine of estoppel per rem judicata from going before regular courts

ARBITRATION - Traditional arbitration process - Decision of lower native tribunal - Whether binding without concluding the traditional arbitration process

COURT - Contradictory accounts of oral history - How court resolves

COURT - Trial court - Document prepared during the pendency of the suit -  Trial court relying on same - Impropriety of

COURT - Trial court - Findings of fact made by - When appellate court many disturb

ESTOPPEL - Parties who submit themselves to native arbitration - Whether precluded by doctrine of estoppel per rem judicata from going before regular courts.

EVIDENCE - Contradictory accounts of oral history - How court resolves

EVIDENCE - Document - Document prepared during the pendency of the suit -Trial court relying on same - Impropriety of

EVIDENCE - Presumption - Existence of facts with regard to common cause of natural events and conduct of party in relating a particular case - Whether court can presume

Issues:

1.            Whether in view of the evidence before the court, the compound in which the parties live in the present Ido Town is named “OKUSIN POLO” or “ALIBO POLO” after the ancestral parents that founded the compound at the old Ido.

2.            Whether the learned trial Judge was right in law to have admitted a document made during the pendency of the case and relied heavily on it in deciding the case against the defendants/ appellants.

3.            Whether the learned trial Judge was justified in law when he refused to apply the legal principle of “ESTOPPEL PER REM JUDICATA” to stop the plaintiff’s/respondents from bringing

                                            Alibo vs. Okusin                                                           1441 this action in view of an existing binding and valid arbitration award between parties to the action.

Facts:

This matter was commenced at the High Court of Justice Port Harcourt by the respondents as plaintiffs. Prior to the commencement of this suit, both appellants and respondents had appeared before the Ido Council of Chiefs for arbitration and the council gave its decision in favour of the appellants. The respondents were dissatisfied with the council’s decision and apealed to the Abbey Royal House of Buguma. Appellants however refused to appear before the said Abbey Royal House of Buguma.

Respondents therefore filed this suit claiming inter-alia that under Kalabari native law and custom the compound to which the two families belong (i.e. the plaintiffs and the first set of defendants) is known as and called Okusin Polo and not Alibo Polo as erroneously claimed by the 1st set of defendants. Pleadings were filed and exchanged. At the conclusion of trial, trial court gave judgment in favour of respondents. Aggrieved, the appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal.