LawPavilion Online


Back

ELF PETROLEUM NIGERIA LIMITED v. DANIEL C. UMAH & ORS

(2018) LPELR-43600(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 19th day of January, 2018

SC.344/2008


Before Their Lordships

OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

CLARA BATA OGUNBIYI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

AMIRU SANUSI Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

SIDI DAUDA BAGE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

ELF PETROLEUM NIGERIA LIMITED - Appellant(s)

AND

1. DANIEL C. UMAH
2. UCHE N. FINEBOY
3. PROMISE U. EJAH
4. ANDREW ORDU
5. ISAAC M. DIBIA
(For themselves and on behalf of members of the 5 (five) Villages of Obite Community in Onelga, Rivers State) - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Civil Procedure.

FACTS:
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Court of Appeal Ilorin Division which affirmed the judgment of the Federal High Court Ilorin.

The Respondents as plaintiff filed Suit No. FHC/PH/152/97 at the Federal High Court Port Harcourt on the 26/5/97 in a representative capacity for themselves and on behalf of members of the 5 family units or villages that constitute the Obite Community in Ogba/Egbema/Ndomi LGA of River State against the Appellant as Defendant claiming the following reliefs:
"a) The sum of N2,500,000,000.00 (Two Billion, Five Hundred Million Naira) only being and representing compensation for the acquisition of the plaintiffs communities, vast area of land measuring approximately 28.684 hectares (about 286.840 square meters) by the Defendant company for the establishment of a GAS PLANT at OBITE COMMUNITY in the Ogba/Egbeda/Ndoni Local Government Area of Rivers State of Nigeria.
b) That the Defendant Company implements the contents of the Plaintiffs' Bill of demand dated September 15th 1996 already pleaded in paragraph 6 of the Statement of claim.
c) That the Defendant company be committed in a written undertaking that it would always offer gainful employment opportunities to the indigenes of the five (5) smaller communities (villages that constitute the overall OBITE larger Community."

Judgment was entered on the 18th day of April, 2005 by the trial Court in the sum of N25 Million Naira in favour of the Respondents which judgment was affirmed on appeal by the Court of Appeal on 13th day of Jury, 2006. Further dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:
The Court determined the appeal on the following issues:
ISSUE 1
Were the learned Justices right in law in holding that the pleadings and evidence led by the Appellant are to the effect that the land in dispute was acquired by the Government?
ISSUE 2
Were the learned Justices right to affirm the judgment and award made by the learned trial Judge in favour of Respondents-
i) Whose entitlement thereto was not proved?
ii) Who had received and acknowledged the compensation paid as full and final payment?
iii) Whose claim was not proved?
iv) Who did not plead and prove transfer of customary right of occupancy or interest in land to Appellant?
v) Whose transfer of respondents' interest in land to Appellant was not in issue.
ISSUE 3
Were the learned Justices right to affirm a judgment and an award of damages made to members of a non juristic villages and on the basis and evidence that the land is owned by members of 5 families when:
i) The action is incompetent and void ab initio?
ii) Evidence did not support claim by five villages?"

DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Court found no merit in the appeal and it was thereby dismissed.


Read Full Judgment