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IKWUAGWU AJALA & ANOR v. H.R.H EZE PETER GINIKANWA & ORS

(2018) LPELR-44469(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Friday, the 25th day of May, 2018

CA/OW/07/2012


Before Their Lordships

MASSOUD ABDULRAHMAN OREDOLA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

ITA GEORGE MBABA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

TUNDE OYEBANJI AWOTOYE Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

1. IKWUAGWU AJALA
2. BENEDICT OSONDU IKWUAGWU
(Suing for themselves and on behalf of the Amaba people of Isiala Isuamawu,
Isuikwuato L.G.A) - Appellant(s)

AND

1. H.R.H EZE PETER GINIKANWA
2. CHIEF AJA IKEJI
(President, Ovim Community League, Ovim-Imenyi Branch)
3. RETIRED MAJOR JOHNSON EJIMOFOR
4. ELDER NZE A.O. KANU
5. CHIEF J.N. EJIMOFOR
6. PAUL EKEKWE
(For themselves and on behalf of other Members of Ovim Community of Isuikwuato L.G.A) - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Civil Procedure.
FACTS:
This is an appeal against the decision of the Abia State High Court.

The claims of the Plaintiffs/appellants at the trial Court was for:

"(a) A declaration that the portion of land where the Post Office, Mission Hill (Methodist Church Nigeria Diocese of Isuikwuato Headquarters), Girls' Secondary (Model School), Saint Cyprian Anglican Church, Efik Quarters, Ibibio Quarters, Trinity Methodist Church, Yoruba Quarters and the Area where the Railway Station is located, moving further into the area where Amaba Daily Market is situate, belongs to the Amaba people of Isiala Isuamawu, Isiukwuato.
(b) A declaration that the invasion of the Plaintiffs' land and vandalization of the Plaintiffs' properties by the Defendants and other members of Ovim Community, on the 3rd day of May, 2004 amounts to trespass and consequently wrongful and illegal.
(c) Five Million Naira damages (N5,000,000.00) for trespass against the Defendants, jointly and severally for trespass committed on the Plaintiffs' land.
(d) Special Damages in the sum of N801, 500. (Eight Hundred and One Thousand, Five Hundred Naira) being damages for the Plaintiffs' properties on the 3rd day of May, 2004 as particularized in paragraph 43 of the Plaintiffs Statement of Claim.
(e) An Order of Perpetual injunction, restraining the Defendants, whether by themselves, their servants, agents or privies form further acts trespass on the Plaintiff's land."

The Defendants/respondent filed a defence and counterclaimed as follows:
"(a) A declaration that by refusing to abide by the terms of Customary tenancy between the Plaintiffs and the Defendants and by challenging the Defendants/overlords' title, the Plaintiffs are guilty of misconduct and liable to an order of forfeiture in relation to all that parcel of land granted to the Plaintiffs verged black in the Defendants Survey Plan No. ASA/ABD4/2005, filed with the Statement of Defence/Counter-claim.

(b) An Order of forfeiture against the claimants in respect of the said land."

After hearing the case, the trial Court held that the main Suit was academic because the actual persons in lawful occupation of the lands, were not joined and made parties to the Suit, and as such a declaration of title could not, in the circumstances, be made. The counterclaim was struck out. Appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal. Respondents filed a cross-appeal.

ISSUES:
The issue for determination in the appeal is:
"Was the trial Court right to refuse the Appellants' reliefs sought in the Suit, in the light of the evidence adduced?"

The issues submitted for determination in the cross-appeal are:
(1) Whether the Court below was right to strike out the Counter-Claim of the Cross-Appellants.
(2) Whether the Court below was right not to have dismissed the Appellants' Suit.

DECISION/HELD:
The appeal and cross-appeal were dismissed.


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