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  • 2004-08-23
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Woherem v. Emereuwa

CHIEF E. W. J. WOHEREM JP

V

JOEL EMEREUWA

S. O. NWOSU

ADELE AMADI

VICTOR AZUNA AMADI

BEKWELE AMADI

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

UTHMAN MOHAMMED, JSC ( Presided )

SYLVESTER UMARU ONU, JSC

ANTHONY IKECHUKWU IGUH, JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

UMARU ATU KALGO, JSC

DENNIS OYEJIFE EDOZIE, JSC

SC. 161/2000

FRIDAY, 2ND JULY, 2004

ACTION - Cause of action - Limitation period in respect of - Computation of from averments in the statement of defence - Impropriety of Exception of

ACTION - Cause of action - Limitation period in respect of - Computation of time from averments in the writ of summons and statement of claim only - Propriety of

ACTION - Cause of action - Limitation period of - Computation of time to determine

ACTION - Cause of action - Limitation period of - Preliminary objection by defendant - Plaintiff filing counter-affidavit to contradict computation of time averred to in statement of defence Impropriety of - Need for trial where issues are joined

ACTION - Dismissal of action in limine - Application for -  When appropriate - When inappropriate

LIMITATION OF ACTION - Computation of time - Guidelines for

LIMITATION OF ACTION - Computation of time from averments in statement of defence - Impropriety of - Exception to

LIMITATION OF ACTION - Computation of time from averments in writ of summons and statement of claim only - Propriety of

LIMITATION OF ACTION - Dismissal of action in limine - Application for - When appropriate - Where inappropriate

LIMITATION OF ACTION - Preliminary objection by defendant - Plaintiff filing counter-affidavit to contradict computation of time averred to in statement of defence - Impropriety of - Need for trial where issues are joined

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Cause of action - Limitation period in respect of - Preliminary objection by defendant supported by affidavit -  Plaintiff filing counter-affidavit to contradict averments as to computation of time in counter-affidavit and statement of defence Impropriety of - Need for trial where issues are joined

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Cause of action - Limitation period in respect of - Computation of time from averments in the statement of defence - Impropriety of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Cause of action - Limitation period in respect of as a preliminary issue - Determination of by looking at the writ of summons and statement of claim only - Propriety of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Dismissal of action in limine Application for - When appropriate - When inappropriate

Issues:

1.              Whether the action is statute-barred.

2.              Whether the court below was right in embarking on a trial and thereby assessing the pleadings of the appellant against the respondents.

Facts:

The plaintiff/appellant commenced this suit in the Port Harcourt High

Court claiming declaration of title to land, damages for trespass and perpetual injunction against the defendants/respondents. After the completion of pleadings, the defendants filed a notice of motion to dismiss the suit on the ground that the action is statute-barred by virtue of the Limitation Law No. 7  of 1988 of Rivers State. At the hearing of the motion the defendants, as applicants, relied copiously on the affidavit in support of the motion as well as several averments in their statement of defence. The plaintiff, as respondent, for his own part, confined himself to the averments in his writ of summons and statement of claim; and refused to file any counter-affidavit to controvert the depositions in the affidavit of the defendants.

The learned trial Judge found in favour of the defendants, and held that the action was statute-barred. The court relied mainly on the depositions in the affidavit in support of the motion and the averments in the statement of defence to come to its decision. Aggrieved, the plaintiff appealed to the Court of Appeal, which in a split decision affirmed the decision of the trial Judge.

Being aggrieved, the plaintiff appealed to the Supreme Court.