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Regd. Trustees, Deeper Christian Life Ministry v. Ebhodaghe

REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF DEEPER CHRISTIAN
LIFE MINISTRY
V
MR. JOSEPH EBHODAGHE
COURT OF APPEAL
(LAGOS DIVISION)

CHINWE EUGENIA IYIZOBA JCA (Presided)
YARGATA BYENCHIT NIMPAR JCA
A. O. OBASEKI-ADEJUMO JCA (Read the Lead Judgment)

CA/L/1176/2014
WEDNESDAY, 30 MARCH 2016

APPEAL - Discretion - Exercise of by trial court - Whether a party may appeal against
APPEAL - Evaluation of evidence and ascription of probative value to - Primary duty of trial court therefor - Attitude of appellate court to
COST - Award of to successful party - Propriety of
COURT - Discretion - Exercise of by trial court - Whether a party may appeal against
EVIDENCE - Evaluation of - Proper approach of trial court to

EVIDENCE - Evaluation of e vidence and ascription of probative value to - Primary duty of trial court therefor - Attitude of appellate court to
LAND LAW - Trespass - Claimant for - Loss - Whether must prove to be entitled to damages - Possession sufficient for - Nature of
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Discretion - Exercise of by trial court - Whether a party may appeal against
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Cost - Award of to successful party - Propriety of
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Pleadings - Bindingness of parties by - Evidence led on facts not pleaded - Irrelevance of

Issues:

1. Whether having regard to the documentary and oral evidence adduced before the court, the appellant’s title to the land in dispute is not superior to the respondent’s competing title.
2. Whether the trial court is right to have embarked on self-examination of the appellant’s survey plans with respondent’s survey plans suo muto in chambers without calling on the parties to address him on it thereby denying the appellant a fair hearing and denial of justice.
3. Whether the failure of the trial court to consider the appellant’s defence of laches, acquiescence and equitable estoppel in this judgment did not amount to denial of fair hearing and hence perverse judgment.
4. Whe ther the awa rd of gene ra l damage s ofN5,000,000.00 (five million naira) for trespass and for use and occupation was not excessive without evidence to support the award.
5. Whether the award of N400,000.00 (four hundred thousand naira) cost was not punitive and not judicially and judiciously awarded.
6. Whether the entire judgment of the trial court was not perverse having regard to the documentary and oral evidence placed before the court by the appellant and the respondent.

Facts:

In the High Court of Lagos State, the respondent filed an action claiming that he purchased the land situate at Mulero Street, off Oyewole Road, Mulero, Agege, Lagos State from the owning family in 1973 and had been in possession. He contended that the appellant trespassed thereon and therefore prayed the court for declaratory and injunctive reliefs to the effect that he is the owner of the land, the appellant is a trespasser, general damages and perpetual injunction restraining further trespass. The appellant denied respondent’s claims, averring that its predecessor-in-title also bought the land from the owning family. The trial court granted respondent’s claims and being aggrieved, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal contending that the lower court erred in holding that the respondent’s title was
superior to his and in granting respondent’s reliefs based thereon.