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GARKUWA PINA v. JAGABA MAI-ANGWA

(2018) LPELR-44498(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 18th day of May, 2018

SC.122/2006


Before Their Lordships

OLUKAYODE ARIWOOLA Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

KUMAI BAYANG AKA'AHS Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

KUDIRAT MOTONMORI OLATOKUNBO KEKERE-EKUN Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

PAUL ADAMU GALINJE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

GARKUWA PINA - Appellant(s)

AND

JAGABA MAI-ANGWA - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Civil Procedure.
FACTS:
This is an appeal against the decision of the Court of Appeal sitting in Abuja.

Sometimes in 1993, one Masinja Tanko claimed against the Respondent a declaration of title to a piece of land at the Area Court, Kuta, in Niger State.  In resolving the issue at stake, the area Court judge kuta proffered the following solution:- 
"Since it was Garkuwan Ibrahim Makama who borrowed the land to Maianguwan Jeba, this Court advises you, Masinja Tanko, the plaintiff to sue Garkuwan Ibrahim so that you can call your own witnesses, the Court adjourn this case from 5/7/1993 to enable Masinja Tanko the plaintiff to go home and discuss with his father whether to sue Garkuwan Ibrahim or to leave the matter."

After the case at Kuta, the Appellant sought to take back his farmland, but the Respondent refused to hand over the farm to him. As a result, the Appellant instituted an action against the Respondent at the Upper Area Court II holden at Minna in Niger State in which he claimed declaration of title over the disputed piece of land. At the hearing of the case, the Appellant gave evidence and tendered the record of proceeding at Kuta Area Court which was admitted and marked Exhibit 1. The Respondent testified for himself and called six witnesses. At the end of the trial and addresses by parties' respective counsel, the trial Court in a reserved and considered judgment delivered on the 28th of December, 1998 allowed the Respondent to farm the portion of the farm he occupied to enable him get food. He was however barred from sub-letting the farm to anybody, except where he obtained the consent of the Appellant herein. The Respondent at the Supreme Court was dissatisfied with the decision of the Upper Area Court. 

Being aggrieved, he lodged an appeal at the High Court of Niger State. After hearing the parties, the High Court allowed the appeal, set aside the decision of the Upper Area Court, Minna and ordered a retrial of the suit before another area Court in Kuta. The Appellant at the Supreme Court was dissatisfied with the decision of the High Court. He appealed to the Court of Appeal, Abuja Division. The Court of Appeal heard the appeal and in a reserved and considered judgment delivered on the 8th December, 2005 dismissed the appeal and varied the decision of the High Court by declaring title to the Respondent with cost of N5,000 in favour of the Respondent and against the appellant. Further dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:
The Court determined the appeal on the issues raised by the Appellant and couched as follows:

(1) Whether, in the circumstances of this case, the Respondent's earlier statement in Exhibit 1 that the land in dispute belongs to the Appellant and that the Appellant placed him in possession is not relevant in the instant suit.

(2) Whether on a balance of probabilities, the Respondent, and not the Appellant proved better title.

DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Court found merit in the appeal and accordingly allowed same.  The decision of the Court of Appeal was accordingly set aside. In its place the decision of the upper Area Court, Minna was restored.


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