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  • 47
  • 2001-04-23
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Jekpe v. Alokwe

BEN JEKPE

EMMANUEL JEKPE

( For themselves and on behalf ofImiekpe Ruling Kindred of Okpekpe)

V

CHIEF (DR.) S. T. ALOKWE

( For himself and on behalf of Imida Family of Okpekpe)

MILITARY GOVERNOR, BENDEL STATE

COMMISSIONER FOR SPECIAL DUTIES

( Chieftaincy Affairs, Bendel State )

ATTORNEY-GENERAL & COMMISSIONER FOR JUSTICE, BENDEL STATE

ALHAJI CHIEF DIRISU S. UGONOH

MR. JULIUS OKAHAIYEMHE

( For themselves and on behalf of lmiebe Kindred of Okpekpe)

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

SALIHU MODIBBO ALFA BELGORE, JSC ( Presided )

EMANUEL OBIOMA OGWUEGBU, JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

SYLVESTER UMARU ONU, JSC

UMARU ATU KALGO, JSC

SAMSON ODEMWINGIE UWAIFO, JSC

SC.111/1995

FRIDAY, 6TH APRIL, 2001.

EVIDENCE - Evaluation of evidence - How done - Duty of trial court

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Reliefs - Where claimed - Whether plaintiff needs to testify in support of during trial

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Writing judgment - Whether there exists any particular style therefor

Issue:

Whether the Court of Appeal was right in dismissing the plaintiffs’ claim, having held that the trial court erred in giving his judgment in utter disregard to the principles in Odofin vs. Mogaji (1978)  Vol. II NSCC 275.

Facts:

The plaintiffs sued the defendants, claiming, inter alia, declarations that he should be recognised as the holder of the Apa of Okpekpe Chieftaincy Title and that the declaration made by the Bendel State Government relating to the Chieftaincy title of Onwueweko (Clan Head) of Okpekpe which was published as Bendel State Legal Notice No.2 of 1990 is illegal, unconstitutional, null and void.

The trial court in delivering its judgment dismissed the plaintiffs’ claim midstream on the submission of the counsel for the 2nd, 3rd and 4th defendants and the evidence of the plaintiffs as to only the reliefs the plaintiffs were claiming.  Thereafter, it then proceeded to evaluate the whole evidence on its merits led by both parties before dismissing the action.

The plaintiffs appealed to the Court of Appeal, contending that the Judge’s approach occasioned a miscarriage of justice in that their evidence was not considered.  The appellate court, after admonishing the trial court, went ahead to dismiss the appeal.

Dissatisfied, the plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court.