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(2018) LPELR-44988(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Thursday, the 12th day of July, 2018


Before Their Lordships

AYOBODE OLUJIMI LOKULO-SODIPE 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


4. NWAJOBI NKESI - Appellant(s)


NATHANIEL ELECHI - Respondent(s)

Other Citations

; ;


This appeal borders on Declaration of Title to Land.
This is an appeal against the Judgment of Abia State High Court, in Suit No. HS/7/2008, and HS/9/2008 (Consolidated), delivered by Hon. Justice Obisike Oji on 24th April 2009.

At the trial Court, the Plaintiff in HS/7/2008 (now Appellant) had sought the following reliefs (as per writ of summons of 6/5/2008):
(1) A declaration of title that the plaintiffs are entitled to the statutory right of occupancy over all the piece or parcel of land traditionally known as and called 'Ala Ehuri' situate at Umuasua in Isuikwuato Local Government Area of Abia State.
(2) An order of this Court compelling the Defendant to surrender or give up the said piece or parcel of land to the Plaintiff.
(3) N100,000.00 (One Hundred Thousand Naira) damages for the Defendant's unlawful trespass.
(4) Perpetual injunction restraining the Defendant from further trespass or in the land.

Upon service of the suit on the Defendant, he, in turn, filed his Suit HS/9/2008 against the Plaintiffs claiming declaratory and Injunctive reliefs. The two suits were consolidated on the application of the Respondent, and so the Plaintiffs in HS/7/2008 remained the Plaintiffs in the consolidated suits, while the Defendant in HS/7/2008 (and Plaintiff in HS/9/2008) remained the Defendant. 

The case of the Appellants in the trial Court was that the land in dispute "Ala Ehuri" belongs to them. They traced the genealogy of Asua, the great ancestor of Umuasua, to themselves and how the land descended to them from Asua through their various ancestors. They claimed that all these ancestors of theirs on whom the land in dispute descended farmed it and reaped the economic trees on it. They also claimed that when the land descended to their ancestor, Liolio the family stopped sharing it. Appellants stated that at a point in time, Liolio's brothers advised him to relocate from the land in dispute to where they were (now) living in Ugwuogu. The reason for this was inter tribal wars as Ala Ehuri was vulnerable to attack. They claimed that when Liolio was relocating, he handed the land in dispute to one Nnanna Ogbu, whom they claimed had relocated from his original place of abode in Amangwu to where Liolio was living and was settled by Liolio. Nnanna Ogbu, Appellants asserted, is the ancestor of the Respondent through whom the Defendant came to be on the land in dispute. Nnanna Ogbu was required by Liolio to be paying him homage over the land in the form of Palm Oil and Palm kernel and he did this with his descendants until it came to the turn of the Respondent who stopped paying the homage.

After hearing the consolidated Suits, the trial Court dismissed the Plaintiffs' claim while the Defendant's claim succeeded.

Dissatisfied with the decision, the Appellants brought this appeal.

The Court determined the appeal on the Appellants' issues rephrased as follows:
(1) Was the trial Court correct in its findings that the tradition history by Appellants failed in critical areas and that the identity of the land they claimed was in  issue (or at large), thereby dismissing the case of the Appellants (HS/7/2008)?
(2) Was the trial Court right when it held that "where the traditional history of a party is unsatisfactory and he is able to establish any other modes of proof of title to the land, that will avail him", relying on that to grant Respondent's reliefs in HS/9/2008 - that he proved title by long possession and acts of ownership?

In the final analysis, the appeal succeeded and was allowed. Consequently, the decision of the trial Court, dismissing the Appellants' Suit No. HS/7/2008 was set aside and the Court granted the reliefs sought by the Appellants. In the same vein, the decision on the Respondent's case was set aside, and the claim of the Respondent therein was dismissed.

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