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APOSTLE PETER EKWEOZOR & ORS v. THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF THE SAVIOUR'S APOSTOLIC CHURCH OF NIGERIA

(2020) LPELR-49568(SC)

In The Supreme Court of Nigeria

On Friday, the 13th day of March, 2020

SC.416/2014


Before Their Lordships

OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

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

CHIMA CENTUS NWEZE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

AMINA ADAMU AUGIE Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria

EJEMBI EKO Justice of The Supreme Court of Nigeria


Between

1. APOSTLE PETER EKWEOZOR
2. REV. K. OYEMA
3. THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF THE SAVIOUR'S APOSTOLIC CHURCH - Appellant(s)

AND

THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF THE SAVIOUR'S APOSTOLIC CHURCH OF NIGERIA - 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 Enugu.

The Respondent as plaintiff commenced the action at the High Court of Justice, Awka Judicial Division, in the then Anambra state of Nigeria vide a writ of summons dated 16th December, 1986. By the further Amended Statement of Claim dated 27th June, 2001, the respondent claimed against the appellants as follows:-
i. A declaration that the plaintiffs are entitled to a Statutory Right of Occupancy over the said premises of Saviour's Apostolic Church of Nigeria situate at Awka, the annual value of which is about N10.00.
ii. General damages for trespass N2,000,000.00.
iii. Injunction restraining the defendants by their servants, agents or workmen from further interfering with the church premises aforesaid at Awka, or in any other manner inconsistent with the ownership and or possession of the said premises by the plaintiffs.
iv. Return of the properties of the church aforesaid named at paragraph 15 above or their estimated value thereof.
v. Account for all the monies found to be due to the plaintiffs which the defendants collected from S.A.C. Awka or accrued to them by virtue of remaining and or utilizing the church and/or by still holding out themselves as ministers of the said S.A.C. and payment to the plaintiffs or into the Court for plaintiffs' use, starting from the 29th of December, 1977 till judgment in this case.

After considering the evidence of parties and the final submissions of respective counsel, the Trial Court entered judgment for the Respondent and granted all the above reliefs, except the claim for return of various vehicles by the Appellants to the Respondent which was dismissed. Dissatisfied with the judgment of the High Court, the appellants filed a Notice of Appeal dated 25th September, 2007 and subsequently by leave of Court filed additional Grounds of Appeal dated 10th March, 2007. On the 30th June, 2014, the Court of Appeal affirmed the judgment of the High Court, dismissing the appeal for lacking in merit, hence an appeal to the Supreme Court.

ISSUES:
The Court determined the appeal on these issues couched as follows:
1. Whether the action was competent having been commenced by the respondent instead of Saviour's Church of Nigeria.
2. Whether the respondent discharged the burden of proof placed on them in line with the provisions of the Evidence Act.

DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same.


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