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BERNARD DEMENGE GWAMILE v. MALCOLM IDOKO IDIH & ANOR

(2018) LPELR-44139(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Thursday, the 19th day of April, 2018

CA/MK/125/2014


Before Their Lordships

JUMMAI HANNATU SANKEY Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

ONYEKACHI AJA OTISI Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

JOSEPH EYO EKANEM Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

BERNARD DEMENGE GWAMILE - Appellant(s)

AND

1. MALCOLM IDOKO IDIH
2. ADEM KWAGHTAMEN - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Declaration of Title to Land.
FACTS:
The appeal is against the judgment of the Benue State High Court Coram A.O. Onum, J. in Suit No MHC/347/2012 delivered on March 14, 2014.

The facts of the case is that the Appellant as plaintiff instituted action against the Respondents at the trial Court seeking amongst other reliefs a
declaration that the Customary Right of Occupancy bequeathed to the Plaintiff by his grandparents over the farmland lying and situate at the Genabe District adjacent the Mobile Police Barracks, Makurdi still subsists same not having been revoked by the Governor of Benue State. 

The Respondent defended the suit and counterclaimed. The Appellant testified for himself, called one other witness. The Respondents also had two witnesses. In the course of hearing, the trial Court visited the locus-in-quo at Genabe District of Makurdi Local Government Area. 

At the conclusion of hearing, the trial Court dismissed the claims for declaration of title sought by both the Appellant and the Respondents but granted possessory rights to the 1st Respondent who had purchased the property in dispute from the 2nd Respondent. The trial court further directed the Appellant to pay damages to the 1st Respondent for trespass and granted an order of perpetual injunction against the Appellant from further trespass. 

Aggrieved by this judgment, the Appellant brought this appeal.

ISSUES:
The Appellant formulated three issues as follows:
i. Whether a Court can grant a relief not claimed by a party to a suit? 
ii. Whether the test of consistency of a witness is judged by the conformity of the witness' opinion to empirical accuracy with that of another witness on a particular fact?
iii. Whether the learned trial Judge properly evaluated the evidence of the parties before dismissing the Appellant's claim for declaration of title and proceeded to grant possessory right to the 1st Respondent who allegedly purchased the property from the 2nd Respondent? 

The Respondents also distilled three issues but framed as follows:
i). Whether the trial Court caused a miscarriage of justice by granting possessory right of the disputed land to the 1st Respondent? 
ii) Whether the trial Court was obliged to believe the evidence of witnesses of a party that contradicts each other on material particulars. 
iii) Whether the learned trial Judge properly evaluated the evidence of the parties before dismissing the Plaintiff/Appellant's claim for declaration to title?

The Court determined the appeal on the Parties' issues.

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the Court held that the appeal lacked merit and it was accordingly dismissed. Consequently, the decision of the trial Court was affirmed.


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