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CHIEF GODWIN ONEMU & ORS v. COMMISSIONER FOR AGRICULTURE & NATURAL RESOURCES, ASABA & ORS

(2019) LPELR-47391(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 12th day of April, 2019

SC.283/2006


Before Their Lordships

OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

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

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

PAUL ADAMU GALUMJE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

UWANI MUSA ABBA AJI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

1. CHIEF GODWIN ONEMU
2. APPA EDADA
3. B. A. OMOTO
4. NAVY AKPOR
5. JOSEPH A. IKPIDE
(For themselves and on behalf of Oliwe Abiago family of Irri Town in Isoko South Local Government Council, Delta State) - Appellant(s)

AND

1. COMMISSIONER FOR AGRICULTURE & NATURAL RESOURCES, ASABA
2. ISOKO COMMUNAL FARMERS MULTI-PURPOSE CO-OPERATIVE SOCIETY LTD
3. V.S. EVOVI (PRESIDENT)
4. MESSAIAH OKE (FORMER MANAGER)
5. FRANK ENI (PRESENT MANAGER) - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on land law.

FACTS:
The Appellants sued the Respondents at the Delta State High Court, Olah, claiming declaration that the parcel of land called Egwe, situate in the Neighbourhood of Irri town, which they granted to the 1st Respondent for the specific public purpose of using it as a cattle ranch, has reverted to them from the moment the 1st Respondent ceased to use it for that specific purpose.

Appellants (with other communities of Aviara and Emede) surrendered their land called Egwe land, situate in the Neighbourhood of Irri town, in 1973, to the then Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources of Bendel State now Delta State, for the specific public purpose of Cattle Ranch, to rear special breed of cattle from Australia. With the passage of time, the cattle died and the Respondents converted the use of the land to other agricultural purposes, which caused the Appellants to sue them for the reversion and recovery of same.

At the trial, the Appellants called 5 witnesses while the Respondents featured 3 witnesses. The trial Court granted reliefs 1, 3 and 4 of the Appellants. Dissatisfied, Respondents appealed to the Court of Appeal, Benin Division. In its judgment, the Court allowed the appeal, dismissed the Appellants' claims and set aside the judgment of the trial Court. Not pleased, appellants appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:
Appellants distilled the following issues for determination:
"1. Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right in setting aside the findings of the trial Court and holding that, the Appellants had not proved the ownership and extent of the land in dispute.
2. Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right in holding that the Appellants had not sufficiently proved the exclusive purpose for which the land was donated and acquiesced in the Respondents' use of the said land for other purposes.
3. Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right in holding that proper parties were not before the trial Court and consequently dismissing the Appellants' claims.
4. Whether the learned Justices of the Court of Appeal were right in allowing the Respondents raise the issue of juristic personality of the 1st Respondent for the 1st time at the Court of Appeal without leave of Court."

DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal.


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