• Salau v. Araba
  • 204
  • 2004-04-26
  • ₦ 200
  • Buy Now

Salau v. Araba




( Asst. Commissioner of Police )










AMIRU SANUSI, JCA ( Read the Lead judgment )




ACTION - Action for damages for trespass - Need to establish possession or right to possession and not ownership therein

ACTION - Action for trespass - Defendant  in action therefor - Duty on to show better title

AGENCY - Agent - Act of trespass committed by agent - Liability of the agent and his principal therefor

APPEAL - Brief of argument - Argument therein not forming part of grounds of appeal - Whether will be entertained by the Court of Appeal

COSTS - Award of - Duty on court to award same as indemnity to the successful party and not as punishment to the losing party

COURT - Appellate court - Duty of

COURT - Appellate court - When will interfere in evaluating or reevaluating evidence adduced before the trial court

COURT - Appellate court - Whether will interfere with exercise of discretion of trial court

COURT - Court of appeal - Whether will entertain argument in a brief not forming part of grounds of appeal

COURT - Discretionary power of to award general damages - How exercised

COURT - Duty on to award costs as indemnity to successful party and not as punishment on the losing party

COURT - Duty on to rely and act on unchallenged or uncontradicted admissible evidence

COURT - Failure to refer matters which are purely civil or personal to the law court - Impropriety of

COURT - Jurisdiction of - Parties who have submitted thereto - Duty on

COURT - Trial court - Duty of vis-a-vis assessment and award of damages where plaintiff’s case fails

DAMAGES - Damages for trespass - Action therefor - Need to establish possession or right to possession and not ownership therein

DAMAGES - General damages - Discretionary power of court to award same - How exercised

DAMAGES - General damages - Need to specifically prove same

DAMAGES - General damages - Where will amount to double compensation - Need not to award same

DAMAGES - General damages - Whether can be claimed by party whose legal right is violated

DAMAGES - Special damages - Need to strictly prove - Whether receipt is sufficient proof of payment in a claim for special damages

EVIDENCE - Evidence adduced before the trial court - When appellate court will interfere in evaluating or re-evaluating same

EVIDENCE - Unchallenged or uncontroverted admissible evidence Duty on court to rely and act thereon

JURISDICTION - Court’s jurisdiction - Parties who have submitted thereto - Duty on

LAND LAW - Land dispute - Plaintiff’s claim therein - Failure of - Whether automatically vests ownership in the defendant

LAND LAW - Landlord and tenant - Landlord who used police force or task force to unlawfully evict a tenant - Whether same is liable in trespass as if he had done the eviction himself

LAND LAW - Landlord and tenant - Trespasser in possession who is not a tenant - Whether can maintain an action in forcible ejectment

LAND LAW - Occupier - Lawful occupier - Whether can be regarded as trespasser

LAND LAW - Possession of premises - Taking same by strong hand or by resorting to self-help without applying to court - Impropriety of

LAND LAW - Recovery of possession - Self-help and forcible ejectment -  Landlord who resorts to self-help in a bid to recover possession of premisses and forcibly ejects a tenant - Whether liable to damages

LAND LAW - Trespass - Defendant in an action therefor - Duty on to show better title

LAND LAW - Trespass - Lawful initial entry - When can turn to become trespass

LAND LAW - Trespass - Who can sue therefor

LAND LAW - Tresspass - Action for damages therefor - Need to establish possession or right to possession and not ownership therein

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Matters which are purely civil or personal - Failure to refer same to the law court - Whether proper

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Party whose legal right is violated -

Whether can claim general damages WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Tenant’ - Meaning of


1.             Whether in the light of the pleadings and evidence adduced by the parties the plaintiff can be said to have proved his case before the lower court and was entitled to the damages claimed.

2.             Whether the court below was right in awarding the sum of N3,500.00 as damages in favour of the respondents.


The 7th respondent herein, a corporation wholly owned by the Borno State Government, was charged with the responsibility of, among others, letting houses in the Ibrahim Taiwo Housing Estate, Maiduguri. On the 21st day of June, 1983 it allocated its property/house No. A118 situate in the said housing estate in Maiduguri to one Mr. J. O. Ogidan who accepted and occupied same with his wife Mrs. O. A. Ogidan who happened to be a sister to the appellant. Mr. Ogidan was later transferred to Lagos and he left for Lagos leaving his wife behind who was then working in Maiduguri to continue to stay in the said house. On 5th July 1994, Mrs. Ogidan went for a course in Lagos and invited the appellant, her brother, to take possession of the house. Sequel to that, she gave a written notice to the 7th respondent that she would be going on a course and introduced the appellant as her brother who would stay in the house with his family. This was documented and approved. The appellant then occupied the house. On the 29th day of November, 1994, the 7th respondent sued the appellant at the rent tribunal seeking recovery of possession on the ground that the appellant was an illegal tenant having discovered that his sister, Mrs. Ogidan, who claimed to be going on course turned out to have resigned from the service of the Health Management Board where she was working and had left to join her husband in Lagos. The contention of the 7th respondent was that it gave its initial approval for the appellant to stay in the house on the understanding that he would only occupy the house and look after it until Mrs. Ogidan returned from the course. Upon noticing the deception, the 7th respondent gave the appellant notice to quit the house. The appellant refused to quit. Later, the Borno State Government set up a Task Force Committee to eject all illegal tenants and occupants from its property to which the 1st to 6th respondents were members. The appellant was ejected from the said house by the Task Force Committee on 23/12/95. The appellant thereupon instituted an action in Borno State High Court claiming against the respondents general damages for trespass to goods, trespass to premises and trespass to person and special damages.

At the conclusion of trial, the trial court dismissed the appellant’s suit and awarded cost against him.

Being dissatisfied, the appellant has appealed to the Court of Appeal.