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  • 2005-05-02
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Falola vs. U.B.N. Plc

E. O. FALOLA

V

UNION BANK OF NIGERIA PLC

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

SALIHU MODIBBO ALFA BELGORE JSC ( Presided )

UMARU ATU KALGO JSC (Read the Lead Judgment)

DAHIRU MUSDAPHER JSC

DENNIS ONYEJIFE EDOZIE JSC

SUNDAY AKINOLA AKINTAN JSC

SC. 298/2000

FRIDAY, 18TH FEBRUARY, 2005

APPEAL - Issues for determination - Formulation of - Need to be confined to ground of appeal - Where not so confined - How treated

EVIDENCE - Affidavit evidence - Conflicting affidavit evidence - How resolved - Need to call oral evidence

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Evidence - Affidavit evidence Conflicts therein - How resolved

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Final and interlocutory judgment Decision of court - Distinction between - Determining factors

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Decision’ - Meaning of WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Judgment’ - Meaning of

Issues:

1. Whether the Court of Appeal was right in holding that the judgment of Longe J. dated 19th April, 1996 was a final judgment.

2 Whether the Court of Appeal was right in holding that there exists irreconcilable affidavit evidence requiring calling oral evidence to clear before the trial court.

Facts:

The appellant who was the plaintiff at the High Court maintained an account with the defendant/respondent at its Ikeja branch. In 1983, a sum of about N4.5 million was credited to the appellant’s account from the Alagbon House branch of the respondent’s bank. Suspicious of the transaction, the respondent invited the appellant for questioning and thereafter handed him over to the police who in the course of their investigation kept the appellant in custody for about 18 months. Upon his release, the appellant made several futile attempts to withdraw from the account. He alleged that his letter to the respondent on 4th August, 1990 threatening to take legal action against it within seven days if it failed to release his money was replied on the 10th of August 1990, advising him to approach its Ikeja branch for payment. Despite this, his subsequent efforts to make withdrawals failed.

The appellant therefore instituted an action against the respondent seeking court order to compel the respondent to pay the said sum of money with interest of 20% per annum, N5 million for false imprisonment and N25 million as damages for wrongful detention. Despite the respondent’s denial of vital allegations in the appellant’s statement of claim, the appellant brought a motion praying the court for an order entering judgment in the suit against the respondent on the ground of clear, unambiguous and unequivocal admission of liability by the respondent. The respondent on its part filed a counter-affidavit. Despite the conflict in the pleadings of the parties, the trial court went on to enter judgment for the appellant in respect of the claim for N4.5 million and 20% interest from 28th October, 1983 until the judgment sum is liquidated.

Dissatisfied with this ruling, respondent lodged an appeal at the Court of Appeal. The appellant challenged the appeal on the ground that the judgment being an interlocutory one, the leave of court was necessary to file the appeal and since such leave was not sought and obtained, the appeal was incompetent. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appellant’s preliminary objection, holding that the ruling of the trial court was a final judgment. It allowed the appeal, dismissed the motion for judgment and remitted the case for trial on pleadings before another Judge.

The appellant has therefore lodged this appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal.