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Purification Technique (Nig.) Ltd v. Jubril

PURIFICATION TECHNIQUE (NIG.) LTD

CHIEF LATEEF OLAYINKA ADO

ALHAJI SAMINU SALIU

ALHAJI SHAMUSIDEEN ABU

( for themselves and on behalf of the Ado Chieftaincy Family

joined by order of court dated 9  May  1994)

V

RUFAI JUBRIL

SULE RAMONU

SUNMOLA OSENI

ALHAJI BASHIRU SALAMI AGBAJE

OBA SUNDAY ADELAKUN

(4 th and 5th respondents substituted for Kehinde Emiabata and Olayiwola Alli,

by order of this honourable court made on 6 July 2009 for themselves and on behalf of the Odan Parapo Family)

LT. COL. M. MUHAMMED

MRS. ADESUWA BALOGUN

MRS. MABEL OMOZE

LT. E. SEIDE

SGT. J. OSAGIEDE

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

ALOMA MARIAM MUKHTAR JSC ( Presided )

FRANCIS FEDODE TABAI JSC

JOHN AFOLABI FABIYI JSC

NWALI SYLVESTER NGWUTA JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment )

OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA JSC

SC.159/2004

FRIDAY, 8 JUNE 2012

APPEAL - Evaluation of evidence and making findings thereon - When Court of Appeal may assume trial court’s jurisdiction in respect of - Court of Appeal Act, section 16 considered

EVIDENCE - Best or primary evidence - What constitutes

EVIDENCE - Burden of proof - Onus on he who asserts to prove Evidence Act, section 135 considered

EVIDENCE - Hearsay evidence - Exception to - Traditional evidence as - Evidence Act, section 45 considered

EVIDENCE - Proof in civil action - Party who institutes suit - Facts relied on - Duty on to plead and lead evidence in support Needlessness of pleading evidence

EVIDENCE - Standard of proof in civil suits - Need for proof on preponderance of evidence and balance of probabilities

JUDGMENT AND ORDERS - Judgment not set aside - Subsistence of in perpetuity - Section 12(2) of Limitation Law of Lagos State, Cap. 67 interpreted - Meaning of bringing an action upon a judgment

LIMITATION OF ACTION - Judgment of court - Bringing an action upon after expiration of 12 years - Impropriety of - Meaning of bringing an action upon a judgment - Section 12(2) of Limitation Law of Lagos State, Cap. 67 considered

STATUTE - Court of Appeal Act, section 16 - Trial court’s jurisdiction to evaluate evidence and make findings thereon - Court of Appeal -  When may assume

STATUTE - Evidence Act, section 135 - Burden of proof - Onus on he who asserts to prove

STATUTE - Evidence Act, section 45 - Hearsay evidence - Exception to -  Traditional evidence as

STATUTE - Limitation Law of Lagos State, Cap. 67, section 12(2) thereof -  Impropriety of action brought on judgment after expiration of 12  years from time of enforceability - Meaning of bringing action upon a judgment

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Bringing an action upon a judgment’ -

Interpretation of - Section 12(2) of Limitation Law of Lagos State, Cap. 67 considered

Issues:

  1. Whether the lower court was right in their interpretation of section 12(2) of the Limitation Laws of Lagos State, Cap. 67, and that the judgment in suit No. LD/1213/76 is statute-barred and could not be relied upon by the appellants as a means of proving ownership of the land in dispute.
  2. Whether it was proper for the Court of  Appeal to review and evaluate evidence of traditional history of the 2nd-4th appellants and the 1st-4th respondents when the learned trial judge claimed to do so, if so, whether they properly evaluated same when they found for the respondents and against the appellants.
  3. Whether the Court of Appeal was right when they found and held that the Odan Parapo family (4th-5th respondents/ counterclaimants) were able to establish their counterclaim.
  4. Whether the Court of Appeal was right to grant a declaration that the alienation, transfer or lease of the land covered by plan ROC/LA1/90 is null and void and having found so, whether they can grant the order of paying rent to the 4th-5th respondents.
  5. Whether suit No. CA/L/1221/90 (exhibit 7) has interpreted that the counterclaim in suit LD/1213/76 (exhibit 1) is not binding on the Odan Parapo family, and that that judgment on appeal, as suit No. FCA/L/95/78 (exhibit 2) and SC.61/80 (exhibit 3) does not constitute res judicata between Ado family (2 nd-4th appellants) and Odan Parapo family (1st - 3rd and 4 th - 5th respondents.

Facts:

The 1st appellant as plaintiff commenced an action in the High Court of Lagos State, claiming damages committed by the defendants to the buildings and structures on the land in dispute consisting of 20 acres and situate at Kilometre 15, Badagry Expressway, Lagos; an order for the ejectment of the defendants and perpetual injunction restraining further acts of trespass. The 2nd to 4th appellant were joined as co-plaintiffs by order of the court. The defendants counterclaimed. The trial court granted plaintiffs’ claims and dismissed the counterclaim. Aggrieved, the 1st-3rd and 6th - 9th defendants filed an appeal to the Court of Appeal, while the 2nd defendant also filed an appeal. The Court of Appeal allowed the two appeals. Also aggrieved, the plaintiffs appealed to the Supreme Court. The defendants filed a preliminary objection to the appeal.

In determination of the appeal, the Supreme Court considered the following statutes:

Limitation Law of Lagos State, section 12(2):

An action shall not be brought upon a judgment after the expiration of twelve years from the date on which the judgment

becomes enforceable.”

Court of Appeal Act, section 16:

“16. The Court of Appeal may, from time to time, make any order necessary for determining the real question in controversy in the appeal, and may amend any defect or error in the record of appeal, and may direct the court below to inquire into and certify its findings on any question which the Court of Appeal thinks fit to determine before final judgment in the appeal and may make an interim order or grant any injunction which the court below is authorized to make or grant and may direct any necessary inquires or accounts to be made or taken and generally shall have full jurisdiction over the whole proceedings as if the proceedings had been instituted in the Court of Appeal as court of first instance, and may rehear the case in whole or in part, or may remit it to the court below for the purpose of such rehearing, or may give such other directions as to the manner in which the court below shall deal with the case in accordance with the powers of that court, or, in the case of an appeal from the court below, in that court’s appellate jurisdiction, order the case to be reheard by a court of competent

jurisdiction.”