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PASTOR OKECHI ONYENFORO v. ELDER IKECHI MARK OWUNNA & ORS

(2018) LPELR-45074(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Wednesday, the 25th day of July, 2018

CA/OW/216/2017


Before Their Lordships

RAPHAEL CHIKWE AGBO Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

AYOBODE OLUJIMI LOKULO-SODIPE Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

ITA GEORGE MBABA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

PASTOR OKECHI ONYENFORO - Appellant(s)

AND

1. ELDER IKECHI MARK OWUNNA
2. MR. UGWUZOR DIMGBA OWUNNA
3. CHIEF CHINTUA DIMGBA OWUNNA
4. MR. UCHECHI IRONDI OWUNNA
5. MR. ONYEKACHI IRONDI OWUNNA
(For themselves and as
representing Umuomasi
Family inOhuru Amangwu
Villiage in Obingwa L.G.A.)

AND

1. THE CHAIRMAN OBINGWA LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL
2. THE REGISTRAR OF DEEDS,MINISTRY OF LANDS AND SURVEY,ABIA STATE
3. THE PROBATE REGISTRAR, HIGH COURT OF ABIA STATE. - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Civil Procedure.
FACTS:
The appeal is against the ruling delivered on 7/3/2017 by the High Court of Justice, Abia State presided over by Hon. Justice L.T.C Eruba.

The Respondents commenced Suit No. HOB/36/2013 before the High Court of Abia State holden at Obingwa Division, against the Appellant and others in relation to land situate at Ohuru Amangwu Village in Obingwa Local Government Area. The Appellant was the 1st Defendant in the said action. The Respondents filed a statement of claim in the action and the process was accompanied by a list of their proposed witnesses and the written statements of the said witnesses. These processes were duly served on the Appellant. Before the Appellant responded to the processes served on him, seven cases including Suit No. HOB/36/2013 were transferred from the Obingwa Division of the lower Court, to the Aba Division of the said Court and with a directive that the Administrative Judge in Aba Judicial Division should assign the cases in question (including Suit No. HOB/36/2013) to any Court in the said Division. By a letter dated 21/2/2014 and received on 24/2/2014, addressed to the Ag. Chief Judge of Abia State, the Appellant subsequently protested against the transfer of Suit No. HOB/36/2013 and some of the others cases in which he was a party included in the list of cases transferred by the said Ag. Chief Judge. Later, still in Suit No. A/33/2014 (which Suit No. HOB/36/2013 had become upon its transfer in compliance with the transfer order by the Ag. Chief Judge and its assignment to another Court in Aba Judicial Division), the Appellant on 18/3/2014  commenced a certiorari proceeding (i.e. Suit No. HU/54/2014) seeking for the quashing of the transfer order in question. The action was brought against Hon. Justice S.A. Nwakanma, the Ag. Chief Judge and 12 Others (and they include the learned counsel to the Respondents in the instant appeal; a Chief Magistrate Grade 1; and the Commissioner of Police, Abia State). The Respondents in the further prosecution of their case (i.e. Suit No. A/33/2014) filed a motion for judgment therein. The hearing notice in respect of the said motion having been served on the Appellant, he filed before the lower Court a Notice of Preliminary Objection  dated 15/5/2014 on 5/6/2014. Therein, the Appellant prayed for an order: "Adjourning Suit No. A/33/2014 sine die".

In its ruling, the trial Court struck out the notice of preliminary objection for being incompetent. Being dissatisfied with the ruling of the trial Court, the Appellant initiated the instant appeal.

ISSUES:
The appeal was determined on the following issues:-

"(i) Whether the trial Judge was right when he held that the Appellant's application at the Court below ought to have been for the striking out of suit No A/33/2014 as against the adjournment sine die sought by the Appellant. Distilled from ground 2 of the Grounds of Appeal.
(ii) Whether the trial Judge of the Court below was right by overruling the application for adjournment sine die on the ground that the same application was an abuse of Court process and ordered pre- trial without due consideration of the pendency of suit No HU/54/2014 (attached as Exhibit C) which sought to challenge the jurisdiction of the trial Court to hear suit No A/33/2014. Distilled from ground 3 of the Grounds of Appeal."

DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Court of Appeal held that the appeal lacked merit and same was dismissed.





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