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MR. SEMIU SOBOWALE & ORS v. THE GOVERNOR OF OGUN STATE & ORS

(2018) LPELR-43735(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Wednesday, the 21st day of February, 2018

CA/IB/276/2016


Before Their Lordships

CHINWE EUGENIA IYIZOBA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

HARUNA SIMON TSAMMANI Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

NONYEREM OKORONKWO Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

1. MR. SEMIU SOBOWALE
2. MR. ADIO DANIEL ODEWALE
3. MR. KAYODE JIMOH SOBOWALE
(For themselves & on behalf of
Sobowale Family of Oriota Village, Opposite Mountain Of Fire, Ibafo, Obafemi Owode, Ogun State) - Appellant(s)

AND

1. THE GOVERNOR OF OGUN STATE
2. THE ATTORNEY GENERAL OF OGUN STATE
3. THE GATEWAY CITY DEVELOPMENT COMPANY LTD - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Limitation of Action.
FACTS:
This is an appeal against the Ruling of the High Court of Ogun State Abeokuta Judicial Division in Suit No. AB/98/2013 delivered on the 30th day of May, 2014, Coram Oduniyi J.

The Appellants who were Claimants at the trial Court instituted this suit against the Defendants/Respondents by a Writ of Summons dated 20/02/12 and filed on 21/03/13 claiming inter alia as follows:

i. A Declaration that the purported acquisition of the Claimants family land described as the piece of land measuring 11768.048 sq meters (1.177 Hectares) and more particularly delineated and verged red in Survey plan no: OG/300/2010/009 dated 22nd June, 2010 prepared by Surveyor M. O Ozan Avae (a registered surveyor) lying, being and situate at Oriota Village opposite Mountain of Fire along Lagos Ibadan express way Ibafo, Obafemi Owode Local Government Area, Ogun State, by the Ogun State Government is null and void for non-compliance with acquisition requirements.

???ii. A Declaration that the Ogun State Government did not acquire or has not lawfully or validly acquired the land in dispute and hence that the Claimants' respective rights of occupancy or respective deemed rights of occupancy over the land in dispute are subsisting OR ALTERATIVELY, a declaration that the purpose for which the Claimants' land was said to have been acquired by the State Government having failed or for not being used for the purpose it was acquired and or for being abandoned, the lands have reverted to the Claimants as being the original owners of the same or persons originally entitled to the Right of Occupancy and or Certificate of Occupancy over the same. 

The Respondents entered a conditional appearance and on the 30th day of January, 2014 and filed their Statement of Defence and other front loaded processes in defence of the suit. They also filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection supported by an affidavit, other relevant documents and a written address praying the Court to decline jurisdiction in the case on the ground that the action of the Appellants was caught by Section 6 (2) of the Limitation Law of Ogun State; and that the Appellants' right of action had been extinguished by Section 10 (2) Public Land Acquisition Law of Ogun State. In opposition to the Preliminary Objection, the Appellants filed a 34 paragraph Counter Affidavit and a written address. The Respondents filed a further affidavit. The Preliminary Objection was argued on the 9th of April, 2014. The Learned trial Judge on 30/05/2014 delivered a Ruling upholding the Preliminary Objection and striking out the Suit on the ground that it was Statute barred.

Dissatisfied with the Ruling, the Appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:
This Court adopted the following issues for the deternination of the appeal:

1. Whether having regard to the Appellants' Originating Process before the trial Court, the Learned Trial Judge was not in grave error when he held that the Appellants' suit was statute barred when there was no evidence before the Court to justify the erroneous conclusion and/or decision.
2. Whether the Learned Trial Judge was not in error when he held that the Cause of Action in the Appellants' Suit arose on 20th November, 1986 when from the Appellants' Originating Process before the Trial Court, it was not in doubt that the Cause of Action actually arose sometime in 2010 when the Appellants became aware of the Purported Acquisition of the Family Landed Property.

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


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