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  • Rock Bottom Interior Ltd. vs. Gafar
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  • 2005-08-08
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Rock Bottom Interior Ltd. vs. Gafar

ROCK BOTTOM INTERIOR LTD.

ALHAJI GARBA ADAMS

V

MOHAMMED GAFAR

COURT OF APPEAL

( JOS DIVISION )

ALOMA MARIAM MUKHTAR JCA ( Presided )

IFEYINWA CECILIA NZEAKO JCA

IKECHI FRANCIS OGBUAGU JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/J/164/2000

THURSDAY, 10TH FEBRUARY, 2005

ACTION - Counter-claim - Nature of - Standard of proof therein

APPEAL - Damages - Assessment of by trial court even where court finds against plaintiff - Rationale for - Necessity of to afford Court of Appeal an opinion on which to base its review

APPEAL - Findings of fact of trial court - Attitude of appellate court thereto

APPEAL - Issues for determination -  Where not distilled, formulated from or related to ground(s) of appeal - Incompetence of

APPEAL - Judgment of court - Review of on appeal - Correctness of and not reasons therefor as main focus of appeal court

APPEAL - Omnibus ground of appeal - What it connotes

CONTRACT - Contract to pay funds in foreign currency - Propriety of COURT - Award of money - Court awarding money in foreign currency -  Propriety of

DAMAGES - Assessment of by trial court even where court finds against plaintiff - Rationale for - Necessity of to afford Court of Appeal an opinion on which to base its review

DAMAGES - Special damages - Standard of proof of - Need for strict proof of

EVIDENCE - Documents - Document made in anticipation of proceedings - Probative value of

EVIDENCE - Quantum of proof - Quantum of proof in civil and criminal cases - Probative value of evidence and not number of witnesses as essential factor

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Good judgment - Essentials of

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Judgment of court - Review of on appeal -  Correctness of and not reasons therefor as main focus of appeal court

LABOUR LAW - Court imposing an unwilling servant on a willing master -  Impropriety of

MASTER AND SERVANT - Court imposing an unwilling servant on a willing master - Impropriety of

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Plaintiff - Need for to succeed on the strength of his own case - When can rely on weakness of defendants case

WORDS AND PROCEDURE - ‘Judgment against the weight of evidence’

-  Meaning of

Issues:

1.              Whether it was proper for the learned trial Judge to have dismissed defendants/appellants’ counter-claim, having regard to the pleadings and evidence particularly when plaintiff/ respondent failed to testify and call evidence.

2.              Whether the learned trial Judge properly evaluated the entire evidence at trial.

Facts:

In the Plateau State High Court, Jos, the plaintiff (now respondent) claimed from the defendants/appellants jointly and severally,

(i)             The sum of three thousand, seven hundred and sixty U. S.

dollars (3,760 U.S. dollars) as special damages as stated in paragraph 15(1) herein

(ii)           The sum of 1,000 U.S. dollars being the cost of the air ticket secured by the plaintiff for his journey from Cairo, Egypt to Kano, Nigeria as agreed.

(iii)         The sum of two million naira only (N2,000,000.00) as general damages for breach of contract of employment resulting in untold/great hardship to the plaintiff in Nigeria a foreign country, the plaintiff being an Egyptian.

(iv)         25 % interest per month of the judgment sum plus the plaintiff’s cost of this litigation and any order as the court may deem fit to make in the circumstances.

The appellants on their part denied the respondent’s claims and counter-claimed thus:

(a)           The plaintiff by counter-claim, claim the sum of N110,000.00 as special damages for the items contained in paragraphs 22 and 35 of the statement of defence:

(b)           The sum of N1.5 million general damages for breach of contract.

(c)           10 % interest on the sum from the date of judgment until final payment.

During the trial, the respondent testified and tendered two exhibits; exhibit 1 was a letter signed by the 2nd appellant as the managing director of the 1st appellant inviting the respondent for an interview in Jos, Nigeria; and exhibit 2, the air ticket from Egypt to Nigeria. He did not call any witness. The 2nd appellant also testified in person and called in aid of its case, one witness, its accountant.

At the close of the trial judgment was entered in favour of the respondent for the sum of $3,760.00 (three thousand, seven hundred and sixty US dollars), 10% interest and N100,000 as general damages. The claim for general damages was dismissed but costs assessed at N10,500.00 was awarded in favour of the respondent. The Judge also dismissed the counter-claim of the appellants.

Dissatisfied with this judgment, the appellants have appealed to the Court of Appeal.