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  • Rockonoh Pty. Co. Ltd v. NITEL Plc
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  • 2001-09-10
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Rockonoh Pty. Co. Ltd v. NITEL Plc

ROCKONOH PROPERTY CO.  LTD

V

NIGERIAN TELECOMMUNICATIONS PLC

NIGERIAN COAL CORPORATION

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

ABUBAKAR BASHIR WALI, JSC ( Presided )

IDRIS LEGBO KUTIGI, JSC

SYLVESTER UMARU ONU, JSC

UMARU ATU KALGO, JSC

SAMSON ODEMWINGIE UWAIFO, JSC ( Read the Lead Judgment ) 

SC.71/1995 

FRIDAY, 13TH JULY, 2001.

APPEAL - Fresh issue on appeal - Raising of in Supreme Court without leave - Impropriety of

DAMAGES - General damages - Nature of

DAMAGES - General damages sought for trespass to land - Nature of

DAMAGES - Special and general damages - Assessment and award of Differences between

DOCUMENT - Registrable instrument - Absence of relevant consent thereon -  Effect of on title - Whether cured by registration of instrument

DOCUMENT - Registrable instrument - Consent endorsed thereon Presumption raised thereby

DOCUMENT - Registrable instrument - Need for Registrar to be satisfied that the Governor’s consent had been obtained therefor - When arises -  Section 13, Land Instruments Registration Law of Eastern Nigeria DOCUMENT - Registrable instrument - Registration of - Whether can cure defect arising from absence of approval thereon

EVIDENCE - Evidence considered to be of probative value - Qualities same must possess

EVIDENCE - Evidence which is of no probative value - Effect of

LAND LAW - Land vested in Nigerian Coal Corporation - Alienation of Requirement for Minister’s approval therefor - Whether required for negotiations - Section 12(4), Nigerian Coal Corporation Act construed

LAND LAW - Registrable instrument - Absence of relevant consent thereon -  Effect of on title - Whether cured by registration of instrument

LAND LAW - Registrable instrument - Consent endorsed thereon Presumption raised thereby

LAND LAW - Registrable instrument - Instrument requiring Governor’s or Minister’s approval - When same will qualify for registration

LAND LAW - Registrable instrument - Need for Registrar to be satisfied that the Governor’s consent had been obtained therefor - When arises -  Section 13, Land Instruments Registration Law of Eastern State

LAND LAW - Registrable instrument - Registration of - Whether can cure defect arising from absence of approval thereon

LAND LAW - Trespass - General damages sought therefor - Nature of

LAND LAW - Value of property - Claim for - Implication of

STATUTE - Nigerian Coal Corporation Act, paragraph 15 of the 1st

Schedule - Presumption raised thereby

Issues:

1.            Whether failure to obtain prior ministerial approval as required by section 12(4) of the Nigerian Coal Corporation Act did not render exhibit J invalid, null and void.

2.            Whether the appellant proved its case and was entitled to judgment.

Facts:

The appellant company herein is an estate developer.  The 1st and 2 nd respondents are Federal Government parastatals.  The appellant has as its chairman PW1, Chief Christian Chukwuma Onoh.  He had also in the past been the chairman of the 2nd respondent.  The 1st respondent was assisted by the p.w.1 in the negotiations to acquire a suitable site to erect its Earth Satellite Station in Enugu, now named I.B.B. Third Gateway.  In accordance with the agreement reached with the 2nd respondent, the owner of the site, the 1st respondent paid a premium of N220,000.00 in April, 1983  for the site and was thereafter to pay an annual rent of N100.00.  The site in question was known as No.13 Colliery Avenue, Enugu.  The 1st respondent has since erected its satellite station, which has been in operation. Somehow, the appellant, through the active voice and involvement of p.w.1, claimed to have become the owner of the site in reliance on a deed of assignment.  Eventually, sometime in February, 1993, p.w.1 commissioned Estate Surveyors and Valuers to carry out a valuation of the site.  This was with a view to determining the money worth of the site in order to make a claim against the 1st respondent.

At the time of acquisition of the site by the 1st respondent, there were existing buildings of the 2nd respondent thereon.  This fact is supported by a body of documentary and oral evidence.  Evidence was equally given that the demolition of the buildings was done by the 1st respondent in 1983.

It was the claims of the appellant and the 1st respondent that each one of them acquired the property in dispute from the 2nd respondent which the latter did not dispute.

At the conclusion of the trial upon the state of the evidence and based on the nature of claims of parties, the trial court gave judgment for the amount of N32,752,506.00 in favour of the appellant as general damages for trespass.

Being dissatisfied, the 1st respondent appealed to the Court of Appeal, which court allowed the appeal and set aside the judgment of the trial court and made an order dismissing the appellant’s claim.

Dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.