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  • 2004-09-27
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Fagunwa v. Adibi

CHIEF ADEOYE ADIO FAGUNWA

( BAALE YAKU )

MOSES AMAO OGUNWALE

( For themselves and on behalf of Baale Yaku Family Ogbomosho)

V

CHIEF NATHANIEL ADIBI

ABRAHAM AJIBOYE

DANIEL OLAWUYI OLATUNDE

( For themselves and on behalf Osi Agoro Family )

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

IDRIS LEGBO KUTIGI, JSC ( Presided )

UTHMAN MOHAMMED, JSC

SYLVESTER UMARU ONU, JSC

UMARU ATU KALGO, JSC

NIKI TOBI, JSC (Read the Lead Judgment)

SC. 175/2000

FRIDAY, 16TH JULY, 2004

ACTION - Dismissal of where party fails to prove reliefs - Impropriety of court ordering a re-trial as a failed action cannot be relitigated

ACTION - Land matters - Trespass - What plaintiff must prove - What defendant must show to disprove plaintiff’s claim

APPEAL - Grounds of appeal - Additional grounds of appeal - Party who seeks - Need for to obtain leave of court

APPEAL - Grounds of appeal - Impropriety of appellate court dealing with in considering appeal - Duty on court to deal with issues

for determination and not grounds of appeal

APPEAL - Grounds of appeal - Statement of in brief of argument Impropriety of - Notice of appeal as proper place for statement of

COURT - Supremacy of justice over technicalities in - Duty on court not to allow technicalities to stifle need for justice

EVIDENCE - Admission against interest - Admissibility of

EVIDENCE - Declaration of title to land - Claim for - Ascertainment of size of land as a pre-requisite for

EVIDENCE - Documentary evidence - Duty of trial courts to consider along with oral evidence - Impropriety of court being silent on evaluation of documentary evidence

EVIDENCE - Onus of proof in claims of title to land - On whom lies Consequence where not discharged

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Dismissal of action where party fails to prove relief sought - Consequence of - Impropriety of court ordering a re-trial as a failed action cannot be re-litigated

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Injunctive reliefs - Automatic failure of where claim for trespass fails

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Setting aside of judgment of trial court -  Meaning of

LAND LAW - Declaration of title to land - Claim for - Ascertainment of size of land as a pre-requisite for

LAND LAW - Injunctive reliefs - Automatic failure of where claim for trespass fails

LAND LAW - Title to land - Onus of proof - On whom lies - Effect where not discharged - Impropriety of plaintiff relying on weakness in the case of defendant

LAND LAW - Title to land - Presupposition of exclusive right to the land in a claim for

LAND LAW - Trespass - Action for - What plaintiff must prove - What defendant must show to disprove

LAND LAW - Trespass to land - Definition of

PLEADINGS - Admission against interest - Admissibility of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Grounds of appeal - Statement of in brief of argument - Impropriety of - Notice of appeal as proper place for statement of

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Trespass to land’ - Definition of

WORDS AND PHRASES - Setting aside of judgment of trial court -

Meaning of

Issues:

1.              Whether the Court of Appeal in the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction can merely set aside a judgment without making further order on the case.

2.              Whether Exhibit C was properly held by the lower court to be defendants family land and if the court was right whether that alone would justify allowing grounds 6 and 15.

3.              Whether the lower court was right in its holding that the trial court did not give proper consideration to the case of the parties and wrongly put the onus of proof on the defendants.

4.              Whether the consideration of the complaints of the respondents in relation to the claim for declaration of title to a statutory right of occupancy would justify setting aside the judgment of the trial court without considering whether the other reliefs were on the printed records properly granted by the trial court.

Facts:

This is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal in respect of a land dispute between the plaintiffs/appellants and defendants/ respondents in which both parties relied on traditional history but told different stories. The land being claimed by both are at Atta and Igbo Sai areas in Ogbomosho. The claim of the plaintiffs/appellants at the High Court was for declaration of title to land, damages for trespass and injunction restraining defendants, their servants, agents, privies and workmen from further acts of trespass on the land in dispute.

The case of the appellant was that Larinso who came from Ile-

Igbon Saaki near old Oyo founded Yaaku chieftaincy family. Larinso farmed on the land on which he settled. Upon his death his farm devolved on his children who were Olusoji, Ojo, Areomi, Akinjebo, Mafoye, Ajao, Ige Taiwo and 1st plaintiff, Chief Adeoye Adio Fagunwa.

The respondents, on the other hand, claimed that the ancestors of the 1st defendant moved in groups to Ogbomosho during the Fulani wars at different times. They claimed that Yaaku Chieftaincy family consisted of Osi Agoro family founded by Olukunle, Akinyo family founded by Fasunle, Ajo family founded by Ajo, Agbooro family founded by Olayale, Isapa family founded by Bayewuwon, Elujuji family founded by Oladokun, Ajadiagbon family founded by Ajadiagbon, Yaaku Idi-Ose family founded by Kolajo. It was also the claim of the respondents that the land in dispute formed part of Osi Agoro, Agbooro and Akinyo family land over which these families have exercised possessory and ownership rights.

The trial court found for the plaintiffs/appellants in terms of their reliefs. Upon appeal by the defendants as appellants, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal in part and set aside the judgment of the High Court.

Dissatisfied, the plaintiffs as appellants appealed to the Supreme Court.