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CHIEF JIMOH OLUWO & ORS v. SUNDAY OBAYOMI & ORS

(2017) LPELR-43261(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Friday, the 20th day of October, 2017

CA/I/86/2013


Before Their Lordships

MONICA BOLNA'AN DONGBAN-MENSEM Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

MODUPE FASANMI Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

CHINWE EUGENIA IYIZOBA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

1. CHIEF JIMOH OLUWO
2. ALHAJA BASIRATU BISIRIYU
3. MR. FATAI OLUWO
4. CHIEF OLUWO ADESANYA
5. ALHAJI FATAI SHOWA
6. ALHAJI SURAJUDEEN ADELABU
7. PRINCE BOLAJI JIMOH
8. HON. SUNDAY OKEOWO
(For themselves and on behalf of the Entire members of OLUWO & SOWA FAMILIES) - Appellant(s)

AND

1. SUNDAY OBAYOMI
2. TUNDE THOMPSON
3. LADIPO OBAYOMI - Respondent(s)


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Land Law.

FACTS:
This Appeal is against the judgment of the High Court of Ogun State sitting then at Ota Judicial Division delivered by Ojo J. on the 16th day of December 2010 dismissing all the Claims of the Appellants.

The Appellants' case was that the Respondents are their family's customary tenants on the piece of land known as Lobira land but which the Respondents refer to as Olorunsogo Oparabasa Village or Olorunsogo. The Appellants claim that the Respondents live in Jopolo village which is part of Lobira land; that Lobira land including Jopolo was founded by their ancestors Oluyemi and Olugayon who with their wives, children and slaves migrated from their ancestral home in Abigi to Lobira land. After sojourning in Lobira and Jopolo for some time, Oluyemi searched for and found another place Upland and invited his younger brother Olugayon to join him. Olugayon left Lobira to join his brother in the new place called 'Orusunmibola' and now known as Kajola. The Appellants claimed that Olugayon left his slave Oparabasa (the grandfather of the Respondents) to look after Jopolo and ward off any intruders. They claimed that Oparabasa farmed and fished on the land granted to him by the Appellants' ancestors and paid tribute annually to the Appellants' ancestors. After the death of Oparabasa, his son Thompson took over. Thompson was the father of the 1st and 2nd Respondents and an elder brother to the 3rd Respondent. They claimed that even the 1st Respondent had paid tribute to the Appellants' family until he stopped and the Respondents started to question the Appellants' authority on the land; hence the institution of the suit.

The case of the Respondents on the other hand was that their ancestor Otufaderin Obayomi (a.k.a. Oparaogunbasa) founded Olorunsogo Oparabasa Village. Contrary to the Appellants' claim, Otufaderin Obayomi settled on the land with his wives and children and other members of his family and exercised maximum acts of ownership over the land. The Respondents claimed that the Appellants' ancestors were Otufaderin's slaves and that he granted them a portion of his land at Kajola as customary tenants. They claimed that Lobira land had become extinct and that was why other villages and settlements were founded by those who managed to escape from the scourge which ravaged Lobira land. The Respondents claimed their family had long exclusively held the position of Baale of Olorunsogo village. They named the Baales as Otufaderin, the first Baale; and then his son Thompson Adenusi Obayomi (1940 - 1977); and then the 1st Respondent who is third in line and the incumbent Baale. The Respondents claimed that Thompson Adenusi Obayomi was a wealthy timber merchant in his life time. Their family had traditional deities like Oro, Ogun, Esu and Yemoja Ituma shrines and groves which they worship exclusively. Unlike the Appellants who had no physical structures on the land, the Respondents claimed that their ancestors and family members own houses on the land in dispute, some of which had fallen into ruins while some still exist.

In proof of their case, the Appellants called seven witnesses while the Respondents called three. The learned trial judge after evaluation of the evidence led came to the conclusion that the traditional evidence adduced by the Appellants was inconclusive. His Lordship accepted the Respondents' version of traditional history, rejected the Appellants' evidence as insufficient to sustain their case and dismissed the Appellants' suit in its entirety.

Dissatisfied with the judgment, the Appellants brought this appeal.

ISSUES:
The Court adopted the issues as formulated by the Appellants for the determination of the appeal thus:
i) Whether the learned trial judge's reasons for rejecting the Appellants' traditional evidence and his finding/ascription of it to be inconclusive, are unimpeachable. (Grounds 1 & 2).
???ii) Whether the inference by the learned trial judge that the Respondents had established a better title to the land called Olorunsogo/Jopolo Village was premised on errors and misdirection. (Ground 3).
iii) Whether the findings of the lower Court in respect of the Appellants' claim for acts of trespass committed by the Respondents on the Appellants area of land verged red on Exhibit D cannot be supported having regard to evidence before the lower Court. (Grounds 5 & 6).
DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Court of Appeal held that the appeal lacked merit and it was accordingly dismissed.





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