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Jolayemi v. Alaoye

JACOB A. JOLAYEMI

EZEKIEL A. AJAYI

OYEDELE AJIBOYE

( For themselves and other members of Imoji Compound Arandun)

V

ALHAJI RAJI ALAOYE

OBA AMOS BABATUNDE

( Alarun of Arandun )

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

IDRIS LEGBO KUTIGI, JSC ( Presided )

UTHMAN MOHAMMED, JSC

ALOYSIUS IYORGYER KATSINA-ALU, JSC

UMARU ATU KALGO, JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

SAMSON ODEMWINGIE UWAIFO, JSC

SC.106/2000

FRIDAY, 28TH MAY, 2004

APPEAL - Concurrent findings of fact by trial court and Court of Appeal -  Where perverse - Duty of Supreme Court to set aside

COURT - Evaluation of evidence - Duty of court to decide party’s claim in the light of his pleadings supported by evidence

EVIDENCE - Onus of proof - Plaintiff failing to establish his case Onus on defendant - Needlessness of defendant adducing any proof

EVIDENCE - Pleadings - Bindingness of - Party giving evidence outside of his pleadings - Effect of

EVIDENCE - Pleadings - Where relevant to party’s case and supported by evidence - Duty of court to decide claim in the light of

EVIDENCE - Pleadings - When unsupported by evidence - Effect of Deemed abandonment of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Concurrent findings of fact by trial court and Court of Appeal - Where perverse - Duty of Supreme Court to set aside

Issues:

1.             Which of the traditional histories should the courts below have believed having regard to the pleadings and evidence led at the trial of this action.

2.             Were the High Court and the Court of Appeal right in considering pre-1931 history when determining which family was entitled to produce the chieftaincy title, Ejemu-Alaran of Arandun.

3.             Was proper consideration given to the contents of exhibit D.

Facts:

The appellants as plaintiffs instituted a suit at the Omu-Aran Division of the High Court of Kwara State, (coram Ajayi, J) claiming declaratory and injunctive reliefs to the effect that the Imoji family/compound of Arandun is the only family/compound entitled to the Ejemu Alaran chieftaincy stool of Arandun, that the 2nd defendant/respondent lacked the power to approve the appointment of the 1st defendant/respondent or any one not from Imoji compound for ascension to the Ejemu Alaran chieftaincy stool, and orders restraining the 1st defendant/respondent from further parading himself or howsoever holding out himself as the Ejemu Alaran; and directing the 2nd defendant/respondent to appoint, approve and install the 3rd plaintiff/appellant as the rightful Ejemu Alaran. The appellants led evidence to show that the three Ejemu - Alaran who had reigned in Arandun since its establishment in 1931  were from the Imoji compound and as such the stool was the exclusive right of members of that family. The respondents on the other hand in their pleadings, averred that Arandun had existed before 1931 and that the Imode compound to which the 1st respondent belonged had produced holders of the chieftaincy stool prior to the establishment of Arandun, i.e. at OmuAran where Arandun settlers migrated from. No evidence was adduced to support this averment. The respondents however relied on exhibit D1 which was minutes of a meeting allegedly summoned by the Sole Administrator of Arandun to resolve the Ejemu Alaran chieftaincy dispute between the Imoji and Imode families. DW1 who tendered exhibit D1 was the only signatory to it. It was neither signed by the convener, the sole administrator, nor the representatives of the appellants’ family. At the conclusion of hearing, the trial Judge dismissed the case of the appellants. The decision was upheld by the Court of Appeal. Dissatisfied, the appellants appealed to the Supreme Court.