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CHIEF FELIX I. IROH & ANOR v. EKWEBIRI ENWEREUZO

(2017) LPELR-42854(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Friday, the 4th day of August, 2017

CA/PH/173/2000


Before Their Lordships

RAPHAEL CHIKWE AGBO Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

MASSOUD ABDULRAHMAN OREDOLA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

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


Between

1. CHIEF FELIX I. IROH
2. REGINA G. IROH - Appellant(s)

AND

EKWEBIRI ENWEREUZO - Respondent(s)


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on civil procedure.

FACTS:
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Customary Court of Appeal, Umuahia (coram: Onuh, PJJCA; with A. Onwuchekwa and J.E. Anaba (JJ.CCA) but with A. Onwuchekwa, JCCA; dissenting.

The Respondent who was also Respondent before the Customary Court of Appeal, Umuahia, as Plaintiff before the trial Customary Court instituted this suit against the Appellants who were also Appellants before the Customary Court of Appeal as Defendants, seeking a declaration that the Plaintiff was entitled to the customary right of occupancy over that piece or parcel of land known as and called UZO OBA ENWEREUZO; the sum of N2,000 (Two thousand Naira) being general damages for the trespass committed by the defendants on the Uzo Oba Enwereuzo land in the possession of the Plaintiff; and an injunction.

The case of the Respondent as set up in the claim was that on or about the year 1978, the Appellants broke into the Uzo Oba Enwereuzo land in possession of the Respondent without leave or consent of the said Respondent. That the Appellants when questioned did not give the Respondent any satisfactory answer regarding the wanton acts of destruction they committed on the land. The Respondent also averred to the effect that after he had driven the Appellants away from the land in 1978, the Appellants having written petitions to the Lagos State Police C.I.D., again came unto the land in 1984 and 1988. The Respondent further averred to the effect that the action was brought to stop the Appellants from laying false claim to the land in question.

The trial Customary Court in its unanimous judgment gave judgment in favour of the Respondent as Plaintiff. Being aggrieved with the judgment of the Customary trial Court the Appellants filed a motion on notice seeking for the following orders:-
"1. Setting aside the judgment given in the above suit against the Applicants in the absence of the defendants/applicants
2. Relisting the above case for trial and allowing the applicants to defend the suit."

The trial Customary Court ruled on motion on notice rejecting the application of the defence Counsel in the matter. The Court held that the judgment of the Court still stands. Still aggrieved with the outcome of the matter before the trial Customary Court, the Appellant proceeded to the Customary Court of Appeal. The Customary Court of Appeal dismissed the Appeallant's appeal. Being aggrieved with the judgment of the Customary Court of Appeal, the Appellants initiated the instant appeal by a notice of appeal.

ISSUES:
The Appellants formulated a lone issue for the determination of the appeal in their brief of argument and it reads thus:-
"Whether the learned justices in the majority judgment exercised substantial justice when they failed to uphold the Appellants appeal which in turn would have amounted to the Appellants being given an opportunity of being heard."


DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the Court held that the appeal was unmeritorious and it failed. Accordingly, the majority judgment of the Customary Court of Appeal was thereby affirmed.



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