LawPavilion Online


Back

MR. GREG OFFODILE v. OZO ANTHONY NWEKE OFFODILE & ORS

(2019) LPELR-47851(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 31st day of May, 2019

SC.318/2009


Before Their Lordships

MUSA DATTIJO MUHAMMAD Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

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

JOHN INYANG OKORO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

EJEMBI EKO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

UWANI MUSA ABBA AJI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

MR. GREG OFFODILE
(Substituted by ORDER OF COURT ON 3RD JUNE, 2014) - Appellant(s)

AND

1. OZO ANTHONY NWEKE OFFODILE
2. OZO CHRISTIAN OFFODILE
3. OGBUEFVI NWEKE OFFODILE
4. OZOEMENA OFFODILE
5. OGBUEFVI CHUKWUMA OFFODILE
6. CHUKWUDI OFFODILE - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Declaration of Title to Land.

FACTS:
The parties in this appeal are all members of Chief Ozo Offodile Family of Umuayon Village Awka in Anambra State. It was not in dispute that the Appellant, as the Plaintiff, is the sole surviving direct son of Chief Ozo Offodile. The 1st - 5th Respondents, as Defendants, admitted that they are all "grand children of Chief Ozo Offodile" and also that the 6th Respondent, as the 6th Defendant, "is a great grand child of Chief Ozo family" On these indubitable facts the High Court found and held that "the Plaintiff being the only surviving direct son of Chief Ozo Offodile - is the head of the said (Chief Ozo Offodile) family in accordance with the Awka native law and custom". This specific judgment on the peculiar facts had not been challenged.

At the High Court, the dispute was over the sale of 25 plots out of the Chief Ozo Offodile family land to the 6th Defendant/Respondent by the 1st - 5th Defendants/Respondents while the Plaintiff/Appellant was away in the United States of America. The Plaintiff, at the High Court, alleged that the 25 plots were sold to the 6th Defendant/Respondent without his consent. The 1st - 5th Defendants/Respondents did not, and still do not, dispute selling the 25 plots to their nephew, the 6th Defendant/Respondent. In their Amended Statement of Defence they averred that they sold the 25 plots out of Chief Ozo Offodile family land "to save the land in dispute from Government interference and the 6th Defendant was found to be able to develop the piece of land immediately to ward off Government attention". It is clear from the pleadings and the totality of the evidence that the parties know the parcel or portion of land in dispute.

The Plaintiff/Appellant at the High Court sought a declaration that the purported sale of the disputed piece or portion of Chief Ozo Offodile family land to the 6th Defendant/Respondent by the 1st-5th Defendants/Respondents, without the consent of the Plaintiff/Appellant as the family head, was null and void. The Plaintiff/Appellant further sought, inter alia, an order of injunction restraining the Defendants/Respondents, their servants, agents and privies from further trespass on the disputed land. He filed along with the Statement of Claim a site plan, which was later admitted in evidence as Exhibit A.

The Defendants/Respondents also filed two site plans, namely Exhibits G and H. Exhibit H is the product of the super-imposition of Exhibit A on Exhibit G. In all these the parties sought to show, with definite certainty, the disputed land and its extent in respect of which the claims of the Plaintiff/Appellant for the declaration that the sale of the 25 plots was a nullity and an injunctive restraining order related.

The 6th Defendant/Respondent had averred that he bought some other parcels of and from other families. The Plaintiff/Appellant did not seem to dispute that fact, as those parcels of land do not form part of Chief Ozo Offodile family land. He did not extend his claims to those other parcels of land. The site plans, particularly Exhibits G and H, clearly show the properly delineated land in dispute, comprising 25 plots out of Chief Ozo Offodile family land, and the parcels of land the 6th Defendant/Respondent bought from other families. These facts are clearly ex facie Exhibits G & H filed by the Defendants/Respondents themselves.

In their concurrent judgments the the High Court and the Court of Appeal dismissed the claims of the Plaintiff/Appellant.

Aggrieved, the Appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:
The appeal was determined on the following issue viz:

"whether the concurrent judgments of the two Courts below are not perverse in view of the totality of the evidence on the Record?"

DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Supreme Court allowed the appeal. The decision of the High Court which was affirmed by the Court of Appeal was set aside as being perverse.


Read Full Judgment