LawPavilion Online


Back

HYACINTH U. IKE & ANOR v. ISAAC ANUDIKE & ORS

(2018) LPELR-45085(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Monday, the 16th day of July, 2018

CA/E/84/2010


Before Their Lordships

OYEBISI FOLAYEMI OMOLEYE Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

JAMES SHEHU ABIRIYI Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

SAIDU TANKO HUSSAINI Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

1. HYACINTH U. IKE
2. BARTHOLOMEW IKE
(for themselves and as representing Ezeanukwu family, Obiagu) - Appellant(s)

AND

1. ISAAC ANUDIKE
2. AKONAM ANUDIKE
3. KENNETH ANUDIKE - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Land Law.
FACTS:
This appeal is against the judgment delivered on 18th January, 2008 in the High Court of Anambra State holden at Nnewi in suit No. HN/79/2004.

The case of the Appellants briefly stated is as follows: The great grandfather of the Appellants Ezeamogu, the original owner of the land in dispute granted the land to the grandfather of the Respondents called Anundike Echendu sometime in 1885 for his dwelling-house. The only son of Anudike Echendu, Emmanuel Anudike succeeded his father to the land after the death of his father. The 1st and 3rd Respondents succeeded their father Emmanuel Anudike to the land after the death of the father. The 2nd Respondent is the first son of the 1st Respondent.

The 2nd Respondent cut down an Iroko tree on the land in order to make room for the building of a bungalow. The Appellants alleged that in carrying out the new construction on the land and cutting down the Iroko tree, the Respondents did not obtain their consent and that the Respondents converted the proceeds of the cut-down Iroko tree.

The Appellants further alleged that under Nnewi native law and custom where the grantee of land cuts down an Iroko tree on the land without the consent and authority of the grantor the grantee automatically forfeits his interest in the land granted to him as the offensive act constitutes a challenge of the over-Lordship of the grantor over the land. The Appellants alleged that in 1968, the father of the 1st and 3rd Respondents, Emmanuel Anudike including his family members moved out of the land in dispute and relocated to Awor Oraifite and the land thereby reverted back to the Appellants who are the descendants of the original grantor. The Appellants also alleged that the Respondents in 2004, without the consent of the Appellants who had allegedly assumed the reversionary interest in the land, broke into the said land.

It is the case of the Respondents that the original owner of the land Emeamogu granted the land in dispute to Anudike Echendu, the grandfather of the 1st and 3rd Defendants sometime in 1885 for Anudike to build a dwelling-house.

Anudike Echendu hailed from Awor Oraifite, son of Ifeghalu, a sister of the grantor, Ezeamogu. She took her son Anudike Echendu to the house of Ezeamogu of Obiagu Uruagu, Nnewi. Ezeamogu maternal uncle of Anudike Echendu accepted Anudike Echendu into his family. Anudike Echendu grew up in the house of Ezeamogu and on coming of age was granted the land in dispute by his uncle to build a dwelling-house.  

According to the Respondents the grant was an irrevocable gift of the land to Anudike Echendu and his descendants. That the grant was made in the presence of witnesses with the killing of goat, presentation of kolanut and wine. ???The Respondents stated that in the light of the nature of the grant, they did not need the consent and authority of the Appellants to cut down the Iroko tree and to construct the new bungalow.

The Respondents denied the allegation of having ever moved out of the land in dispute at any point in time since the grant of the land to Anudike Echendu in 1885. On the contrary the Respondents alleged that it was the Appellants who sometime in 2004 sought to extort money from them having seen the new development on the land in dispute. That because they (Respondents) did not yield to the pressure from the Appellants, the Appellants invaded their residence on the land in dispute. The Respondents reported the invasion to the police.

After considering the evidence led by both parties and addresses of learned counsel for the parties, the Court below dismissed the claim of the Appellants and entered judgment in favour of the Respondents. Most of the reliefs sought by the Respondents were granted.

Dissatisfied, the Appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:
The Court considered the following issues in the determination of the appeal:
1. Whether the learned trial Judge was right in law when he held that the Court believes that the Respondents are recognized by Obi of Obiagu and Obi of Uruagu as members of Appellants' family when the said Obi of Obiagu did not testify as a witness in this case.
2. Whether the learned trial Judge was right in law when he held that there was no credible evidence placed before the Court to cause Court to believe that the Respondents had gone back to Oraifite abandoning the land in dispute.
3. Whether the learned trial Judge was right in law after he had stated that "there are tissues of lies here and there by both parties" and still went on to grant Respondents their counter claim. Ground 3.
4. Whether the learned trial Judge delved into speculation when he held that by the Nigerian standard, the old mud house and cement block attachment are still habitable by human beings when the issue before it is whether the Respondents had moved out of the land in dispute thereby abandoning same.
5. Whether the learned trial Judge was right in law when he held that the Appellants had not denied the Respondents' counter claim in the light of the existence of their process titled "reply to statement of defence & counter claim filed on 2-2-05" and the position of our law on counter claim.
6. Whether on the evaluation of facts of this case, the learned trial Judge was right in law by adjudging the Appellants as trespassers thereby condemning them in damages.
7. Whether the learned trial Judge was right in law when he ordered perpetual injunction against the Appellants thereby extinguishing the Appellants' customary rights of reversion on the land in dispute.
8. Whether in the circumstances of this case and the evidence adduced, the amount awarded to the Respondents is not colossal. Ground 8.
9. Whether the learned trial Judge was right in law when he failed to consider and evaluate the claim of the Appellants and evidence adduced in this case which said failure had occasioned miscarriage of justice to the Respondents.
10. Whether on the whole, the judgment of the learned trial Judge failed to reflect the weight of evidence and therefore unreasonable.

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the Court of Appeal in a unanimous decision dismissed the appeal.


Read Full Judgment