REG. TRUSTEES OF THE REDEEMED PEOPLE’S MISSION INCORPORATED V KALU

REG. TRUSTEES OF THE REDEEMED PEOPLE’S MISSION INCORPORATED V KALU

 THE COURT OF APPEAL OF NIGERIA

OWERRI JUDICIAL DIVISION

HOLDEN AT OWERRI

ON FRIDAY THE 27THDAY OF OCTOBER, 2017


APPEAL NO: CA/OW/235/2013

CITATION:


BEFORE THEIR LORDSHIPS

R.C. AGBO PJ JCA

I. G. MBABA JCA

T.O. AWOTOYE JCA


BETWEEN:

  1. THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF THE REDEEMED PEOPLE’S MISSION INCORPORATED
  1. CELESTINE EMMANUEL IHIM 
  2. GODWIN NWOSU

 (APPELLANTS)

AND

  1. CHIKA ANYA KALU 

(By his Attorney DR. NAYA OKORO)

 (RESPONDENT)


PRONOUNCEMENTS

  1. LAND LAW

Family Land- On the right of a member of a family to institute an action over a family land

“By law, any member of the family has competence to take out action to protect or defend a family land, with or without the consent of other members of the family, but in doing so, that does not vest the ownership of the family land on him, exclusively. SeeOguzie & Ors Vs Oguzie (2016) LPELR – 41086 (CA); Sapo Vs Sunmonu (2010) 11 NWLR (Pt.1205) 374; (2010) LPELR – 3015 (SC); Jatti Vs Duwal (2014) LPELR – 24177 (CA). He may, however, enjoy possessory rights over the land until his expenses, incurred in the protection or defence of the land, is settled by the other family members. Sapo and Anor. Vs Sunmonu (supra); SPDCN Vs Edamkue & Ors (2009) 14 NWLR (Pt.1160) 1 (SC).” Per Mbaba JCA

B.   PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE

  1. Evidence: Credibility of Oral evidence which supports Documentary evidence

“That oral evidence and affidavits supported the documentary evidence, and should be seen as complementary, rather than conflicting or varying. See Ukeji Vs Ukeji (2014) LEPLR – 22724 SC – once documentary evidence supports oral evidence, such oral evidence becomes more credible.Koiki Vs Magnusson (1999) 8 NWLR (Pt.615) 492; Aiki Vs Idowu (2006) 9 NWLR (Pt.984) 50.” Per Mbaba JCA

  1. Evidence: Effect of failure to produce document pleaded

“Of course, failure to produce the alleged original agreement allegedly made in favour of 1st Appellant by Mark Amakwe Iroagbara further dainted the claims of Appellants to a valid hold on the land, as the failure to produced the said pleaded document is, by law, presumed against Appellants, that if the same existed and was produced would have been against the Appellants. See section 167(d) of the Evidence Act, 2011.” Per Mbaba JCA

  1. Evidence: On the weight to be attached to document which is founded on evidence not produced before the court.

“It also follows, that the Exhibit P Power of Attorney donated by some members of Iroagbara family, relied upon by the Appellants, cannot exist, in the absence of the alleged original agreement said to have been donated to 1st Appellant by the said Mark Amakwe Iroagbara. The contradictions aside, Exhibit P can only be founded on the alleged earlier original agreement,when produced, and cannot therefore hang in the air. The law is that you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand! Macfoy Vs UAC Ltd (1962) AC; Oyedare (Mogaji) & Ors Vs Olayinwola (2012) LPELR – 8569 (CA); Hamzat & Anor. Vs Sanni & Ors (2015) LPELR – 24302 (SC); Okwuosa Vs Gomwalk & Ors (2017) LPELR – 41736 (SC).” Per Mbaba JCA

 


JUDGMENT DELIVERED BY  MBABA, JCA


This appeal is against the Judgment of Abia State High Court in Suit No. HU/90/2007, delivered by Hon. Justice A.U. Kalu, delivered on 5/11/12, wherein the Lower Court gave judgment to the Plaintiff (now Respondent) and dismissed the Counter-claim by the Defendant (now Appellant).

The Respondent had claimed for a declaration of title to the land in dispute, special and general damages and perpetual injunction against the Appellants at the Court below. See the Amended Statement of Claim on pages 33 – 39 of the Records of Appeal. Appellants had filed a defence and Counter-claim, asserting right to the same disputed land, seeking declaration, damages and injunction. (See pages 11 – 20 of the Records of Appeal).

After the hearing and consideration of evidence and addresses of Counsel, the trial Court held:

“In my humble view and based on my evaluation of the evidence presented by each party, I am satisfied that on the preponderance the Claimant has presented sufficient evidence to prove the identity of the land, its original ownership by Iroagbara family and that he duly bought it from accredited representatives of that family. I cannot say the same for the Defendants. The Defendants deliberately set out to confuse the matter but the greater hammer blow to the defendants’ case was their inability to show that the land in dispute was ever sold to the 1st Defendant by the Iroagbara family. I never even worried about the terrible lack of effort of the Defendants to prove the special damages they claimed, because they never presented credible evidence showing that they were on the land in dispute and even if there, that they were there in lawful occupation. I never ever believed the Defendants when they said that their items of property on the land in dispute were destroyed by the Claimant’s agents… In sum total I enter judgment for the Claimant and proceed to declare that the claimant is the person entitled to the certificate of the statutory right occupancy in respect of the land…” See pages 252 – 253 of the Records of Appeal.

Dissatisfied with the above, Appellants filed their Notice of Appeal on 23/1/2013, as per pages 255 to 276 of the Records of Appeal, formulating ten (10) grounds of Appeal.

They filed their Brief of Argument on 4/6/14, distilling seven (7) Issues for the determination of the Appeal, as follows:

  • Whether the Lower Court was right in its finding that the land in dispute was originally the family land of the Iroagbara family and that Mark Amakwe Iroagbara took out and conducted Suit No. HU/15/77 – Mark A. Iroagbara Vs Bob Ndumele Onwuegbu on behalf of the Iroagbara family (Ground 1).
  • Whether or not the Lower Court was right in law in beginning evaluation of evidence with the case put forward by the Appellants, when from the pleadings the onus of proof first lay with the Respondent to prove his claim against the Appellants. (Ground 2)
  • Whether given the evidence adduced by the Appellants, the Lower Court was right in holding that the Appellants did not prove that they bought the land in dispute from Mark Amakwe Iroagbara. (Ground3).
  • Whether the Lower Court was right in the conclusions and findings it arrived at through evaluation of the evidence of DWS 3and 4, with regard to title to the land in dispute as well as the probative value it placed on both the status and evidential import of Exhibit L. (Ground 4).
  • Whether the Lower Court placed an appropriate evidential value on Exhibit P, and/or whether the Lower Court’s description of Exhibit P as worthless paper was not prejudicial and borne out of erroneous evaluation of the evidence adduced by the Appellants, especially Exhibits D,E,G,H and J. (Ground 5)
  • Whether, given the quality of evidence adduced on both sides to the case, the Lower Court was right in holding that the Respondent presented sufficient and more credible evidence than the Appellants did to entitle the Respondent to judgment of the Lower Court in his favour. (Grounds 6, 8, 10).
  • Whether given the quality of evidence adduced by the Appellants in support of their Counter-claim, the Lower Court was right in dismissing the Counter-claim on the ground that the Appellants did not prove the Counter-claim, including the special damages claimed therein. (Grounds 7 and 9).

The Respondent’s brief was filed on 7/2/17 and deemed duly filed on 11/4/17. Four (4) Issues were donated for the determination of the appeal, as follows:

  • Whether the findings of the trial Court in favour of the Respondent can be disturbed by the Court of Appeal. Ground 1
  • Whether the judgment of the Lower Court can be disturbed for the mere fact that the trial Court evaluated the evidence of the Appellants, who Counter-claimed, before evaluating that of the Respondent, who was the claimant. Ground 2
  • Whether given the quality of evidence adduced by the Appellants in support of their Counter-claim, the Lower Court was not right in dismissing the Counter-claim of the Appellants on the ground that Appellants did not prove the Counter-claim, including the special damages claimed therein. (Grounds 3, 4, 5, 7 and 9).
  • Whether given the quality of evidence adduced on both sides to the case, the Lower Court was right in holding that the Respondent presented sufficient and more credible evidence than the Appellants did to entitle the Respondent to the judgment of the Lower Court in his favour. (Grounds 6, 8 and 10).

I think all the issues distilled by both sides are on the evaluation of the evidence by the Lower Court, that is, the same main controversy, whether, from the evidence adduced by both sides, the Lower Court was right to hold that the Respondent had proved her case, and to dismiss the Counter-claim. I shall therefore consider this appeal on that sole Issue, collapsing all the Issues by the Appellant into one, as follows:

“Whether the trial Court was right in giving judgment in favour of the Respondent and dismissing the Counter-claim by Appellants, in the circumstances of this case, considering the evidence adduced on both sides, including the Exhibits D, E, G, H, J, L and P?

Arguing the Appeal, Okey Amaechi Esq; SAN, (who settled the brief of the Appellants) submitted that the central issue was on who, between Mark Amakwe Iroagbara and the Iroagbara family, owned the land in dispute before it was sold; that if it was correct that the land was the rightful sole property of Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, before he sold it to the 1st Appellant in 1995, then the case of the Respondent crumbles,because in that situation, his vendors would not have the right to sell the land to him. But if, on the contrary, the land was that of the family (Iroagbara family) as a whole, then the Respondent and the 1st Appellant would have to decide who purchased first from the Iroagbara family, considering the Respondent’s Exhibits A and B, and the Appellants’ Exhibit P.

The Learned Senior Counsel had relied on Exhibits G and H (proceedings/judgment in Suit No. HU/15/77) which he said contained valid judgment of Court declaring Mark M Iroagbara, in his personal capacity, as the owner of the land in dispute. He said a major fact, admitted by both parties to the case was that‘Okputa Okporoama’ the land in dispute is a part of the larger ‘Okputa Okporoama’ land, which was in dispute in HU/15/77, and that the said Mark M. Iroagbara was successful in that case; he said that the only point of difference between the parties was that the said Mark M. Iroagbara prosecuted the case HU/15/77, as a representative of the Iroagbara family.

Counsel said the Lower Court failed to find lead in Exhibits G and H, to determine the status of Mark M Iroagbara in the earlier Suit No. (HU/15/77), whether he did the Suit for himself (as personal property) or as representing the Iroagbara family. He argued that only a valid judgment given by a competent Court can be relied upon as the conclusive proof of the matters decided between the parties, therein. He relied on A.G. Plateau State Vs A.G. Nasarawa State (2005) 4 SC 55.

Counsel added that the trial Court had rightly held that the disputed land in this case was only a part of the larger land contested in HU/15/77, but rather resorted to Exhibits D and J, extraneous affidavits by Mark and his brother, to draw reliance in determining who had title to the land, instead of relying on the existing judgment in Exhibits G and H; Counsel said that was erroneous.

Counsel further argued that the sole ownership of the land in dispute by Mark Iroagbara was further corroborated by the undisputed evidence that after the judgment in Exhibits G and H, Mark Iroagbara, in the exercise of his said right, single handedly, sold a part of the said land (known as plots 18 and 20 Umuobasi Street, Umuahia (otherwise called Plot 13 and 14 Aguiyi Ironsi Layout) to Justice Ikechi Ogbuegu. Counsel added that the Exhibit D, which the trial Court heavily relied upon, was deposed to by Benson Iroagbara, an elder brother of Mark Iroagbara, and had clearly stated that the land belonged to Mark Iroagbara and even went forward to state that Mark inherited the land from the original owner (one Nwosu Uluocha), who upon his death, was buried, single handedly, by Mark Iroagbara; that the said Benson Iroagbara, who deposed to the affidavit, during the pendency of the Suit No. HU/15/77, was the eldest member of the Iroagbara family at the time of Exhibit D. Counsel, however, admitted what he called ‘a misnomer’ in Exhibit D, which the trial Court exploited, whereof the deponent (Benson Iroagbara) stated that Mark Amakwe Iroagbara was suing for himself and on behalf of the Iroagbara family. (Page 109 of the Records of Appeal).

He argued that that expression was not supported by the actual processes in HU/15/77 (as per Exhibits G and H).

Counsel argued that the law was trite that a stranger to a Court process cannot file an affidavit in support of an affidavit of a party, and where that is done, the Court would normally discountenance the affidavit of the non-party. He relied on Onyeka Vs Ogbonna (2013) 11 NWLR (Pt.1366) 462 at 489.

Counsel further said that Exhibits D and J, in their material contents, did not state that Mark prosecuted the Suit No. HU/15/77 on behalf of Iroagbara family.Thus, the contention of the Respondent that Mark Amakwe Iroagbara prosecuted the Suit No. HU/15/77 on behalf of Iroagbara family was not supported by the clear terms and expressions in Exhibit G and H and therefore misconceived and unfounded. He added that none of the members of the Iroagbara family, including the CW1 and his father, questioned the personal capacity in which Mark Iroagbara prosecuted the Suit No. HU/15/77; thus the judgment was binding on the family members; that the principle of law, that a person who knowingly stands bye during litigation concerning the title to the land in which he claims an interest, in the circumstances in which he might reasonably be expected to apply to be joined as a party, would apply in this case; that the family members are bound by the judgment in HU15/77 in the circumstances, having not applied to join the Suit No. HU/15/77that the property was a family land. He relied on Kpan Sanagi Vs Shabako (1993) 5 NWLR (Pt.291) 67 CA, saying that that is estoppels by conduct. He also relied on section 125 of the Evidence Act 2011, to say that a document is the best evidence and cannot be varied by oral or extraneous evidence. He placed reliance on the case of Achiakpa Vs Nduka (2001) 7 SC (Pt.111) 107; Ikoni & Ors Vs The State (1986) 5 SC 313; Mbonu Vs Nwoti (1991) 7 NWLR (Pt.206) 737 CA.

On whether the Lower Court was right in law in beginning evaluation of evidence with the case of Appellants (who were Counter-claimants at the trial), Counsel answered in the negative, saying the onus of proof was on the Respondent, who filed the Suit and sought the declarations; that the onus can only shift when Respondent discharged the burden creditably. He relied on Elias Vs Disu & Ors (1962) 1 ALL NLR 214 at 215; that the trial Court was bound to begin evaluation of evidence with the evidence adduced by the Claimant, in order to see whether he had discharged the onus of proof.

Counsel also said that the trial Court made prejudicial evaluation of the evidence adduced by Appellants when it used phrases like “I never ever believed the defendants” or “the Exhibit P was a worthless piece of paper”and that amounted to a miscarriage of justice. He relied on the case of Duru Vs Nwosu (1989) 4 NWLR (Pt.113) 24 at 50.

Counsel submitted that from the evidence adduced, the trial Court was wrong to hold that Appellants did not prove that they bought the land in dispute from Mark Amakwe Iroagbara; he said that Appellants had pleaded and led credible evidence to establish the fact of 1st Appellant’s purchase of land in dispute in 1995, from Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, for the sum of N400,000.00. He referred us to pages 162 – 164 of the Records; that Appellant on page 207 of the Records had sought to tender a copy of the power of Attorney as receipt of the N400,000.00 by Mark Iroagbara from the 1st Appellant, but Respondent opposed it for being a secondary document, and so Appellants applied to withdraw the same; that DW1 – 4 all deposed, specifically, in their sworn statements on oath, that they bought the land from Mark Iroagbara; that DWs 1 and 2, who are also members of the Iroagbara family, also testified to that effect and the DW2, the son of 1st Appellant’s Vendor (Mark Amakwe Iroagbara), had also said that the sale took place in his presence.

Counsel reproduced paragraph 7 of the Claimant’s Reply to Amended Statement of Defence, saying that Respondent, therein, did not deny that Mark Amakwe Iroagbara sold the land to Appellants, but rather said that he was not a sold owner of the land and could not have sold as such; rather the land belonged to the entire Iroagbara family, who, through their representatives, sold same to the Claimant and issued him with the receipt. Counsel argued that all that Appellants needed to prove, considering the state of the pleading, was

  • The land in dispute was the exclusive property of Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, and
  • He sold the land to 1stAppellant, as of right.

He asserted that that evidence was established, and so the holding of the trial Court was erroneous, when it said the defendants never led one iota of evidence to prove that they bought the land in dispute from Mark Amakwe”;Counsel said that statement from the trial Court showed a misappreciation of the nature and quality of the evidence led by the Appellants, as well as its palpable misapprehensions of the nature and correct boundaries of the issues joined in the case. He added that the real issue was not whether the sale of the land in dispute by Mark Amakwe Iroagbara was valid or not, but was whether or not Amakwe Iroagbara was the sole owner, and sold the land to the 1st Appellant; Counsel said that Appellant had satisfied the latter, that Mark Amakwe Iroagbara was the sole owner of the land, as per Exhibits D, G, H, J, E and P and had sold it to 1st Appellant.

On whether the Lower Court was right in the conclusions and findings it arrived at through evaluation of the evidence of DWs 3 and 4, with regard to title to the land, as well as the probative value it placed on both the status and evidential import of Exhibit L, Counsel answered in the negative, saying the trial Court wrongfully evaluated the evidence of DW3 and DW4, with regard to the purchase of the land from Amakwe Iroagbara, and the subsequent repurchase of the same land from Barr. Johnson Nwosu. He referred us to the said evidence of DW3 and DW4, which he said showed eloquently that title in the land in dispute truly resided in the 1st Appellant’s Vendor, Amakwe Iroagbara; that their evidence amounted to evidence of traditional history, an exception to the hear-say principle.

He argued that the trial Court failed to properly allot deserving probative value to the said evidence, and that beclouded its judgment, particularly in evaluating the evidence in respect of the identity of the land as well as the evidential value of Exhibit L; that Exhibit L was no more than a peace prize or peace document, entered into,due to the disturbances of Barr. Johnson E.C. Nwosu to the 1st Appellant; that the questions which the trial Court raised, suo motu, to impugn the case of the Appellant, were not envisaged or raised by the Respondent in the document; that with regard to the identity of the land in dispute, going by the sole and unchallenged survey plan of the land tendered by Appellants (ExhibitF), the question of situs of the land and its features were thus settled, including the fact of the alternative name of the land as plot 31 (B part) Aguiyi Ironsi Layout, Umuahia. He relied on the case of Ezeudu Vs Obiagwu (1986) 2 NWLR (Pt.21) 208 at 220; Agbeje Vs Ajibola (2000) 93 LRCN 1; Udeze Vs Chidebe (1990) 1 NWLR (Pt.125) 141; Onwuka Vs Ediala (1989) 1 NWLR (Pt.213) 94.

On whether the lower Court placed appropriate evidential value on the Exhibit P, and/or whether the description of Exhibit P as “worthless paper” was not prejudicial, and borne out of erroneous evaluation of the Appellants’ evidence, as per Exhibits D, E, G, H, J, Appellants answered the first aim in the negative and the 2nd in the affirmative. He referred us to the resolution of Iroagbara family, made on 12/9/05, selecting three of their members to represent their family in all matters concerning landed properties of the family – Exhibit E, duly signed by members, including CW1 (see pages 145 – 146 of the Records); he said that based on the Exhibit E, the Iroagbara family entered into a Renewal/Revalidation agreement with the 1st Appellant, whereby they revalidated the 1995 sale of the land in dispute by their said Uncle, Mark Amakwe Iroagbara to 1st Appellant – Exhibit P. Counsel said that the trial Court’s characterization of Exhibit P “as a worthless piece of paper” was therefore based on a wrong presumption that there was no proof of any such transaction between Amakwe Iroagbara and the 1st Defendant, and if that was so, there was no way a nonexistent relationship could be revalidated or renewed. He said that contrary to that wrong presumption, Appellants had equally led evidence to establish the facts that they bought the land in dispute from Mark Amakwe Iroagbara in 1995 for N400,000.00; that the evidence of DW1 – DW4 combined with Exhibit P, amounted to a strong and specific evidence in proof of the sale of the land by Amakwe Iroagbara to the Appellant; that Respondent never led any credible evidence to challenge the fact of the sale of the land by Amakwe Iroagbara. Thus, he said the lower Court was wrong to hold that there was noproof of any such transaction between Amakwe Iroagbara and the 1st Defendant. He added that CW1 was not the son of Mark Amakwe Iroagbara and was not in a position to know about the sale.

On the holding by the trial Court that the respondent presented sufficient and more credible evidence than the Appellants to entitle Respondent to judgment, Counsel kicked, saying that the lower Court had no evidential basis to so hold. He argued that the trial Court had, however, stated the correct principle of law on proof of claim for declaration of title to land, but rather failed to apply that principle in this case; having failed to evaluate the evidence of the claimant, based on the relief claimed and issues joined in the pleadings. He relied on Atunwa Vs Ladenika (1998) 7 NWLR (Pt.557)221 at 228 – 229.

Counsel threw up the questions, again:

  • Who, between the Mark Amakwe Iroagbara and Iroagbara family, owned the land in dispute before the sale
  • Who had the right to sell the land: Mark Amakwe Iroagbara or the grandchildren of Iroagbara polygamous family;
  • Did Mark Amakwe Iroagbara sell the land in dispute to 1stAppellant?

For answer he repeated the answers he gave earlier in forgone issues.

On the dismissal of the Counter-clam, Counsel said that the trial Court was wrong to dismiss Appellants’ Counter-claim; that the Court did not consider the merit or otherwise of the Counter-claim, before dismissing it; that the failure of the lower Court to properly evaluate the evidence of the Appellants led to the dismissal of the Counter-claim; that if the Court had dismissed the Respondents Suit for want of any credible evidence, the Lower Court would not have had difficulty in granting the Counter-claim. He asserted again that with the finding of the lower Court, that the land in dispute formed part of the land in dispute in the earlier case of HU/15/77, whereof Mark Amakwe Iroagbara was given judgment, the lower Court was bound by that case and the declaration of title made therein, as per exhibits G and H, to hold for the Appellants.

He urged us to resolve the Issues for the Appellants and allow the appeal.

Responding, Chief G.I. Chionye, who settled the brief of the Respondent, reminded us that Appellate Court cannot ordinarily interfere with the findings of fact by the trial Court, unless there is ample evidence of failure to evaluate the evidence, before arriving at the judgment. He relied on FRN Vs Nasiru Yahaya (2016) 1 NWLR (Pt.1494) 545.

Counsel submitted that Appellants, by their conduct and evidence, had admitted that the land in dispute belonged to members of IROAGBARA FAMILY and not, personally, to Mark Amakwe Iroagbara. Counsel referred us to Exhibit P, tendered by the Appellants, titled “RENEWAL/REVALIDATION OF POWER OF ATTORNEY, dated 6/10/1995, made by Chief Amakwe Iroagbara and given in favour of the Registered Trustees of Redeemed People Mission” (1st Appellant). He noted that the said document was signed by Benjamin Amakwe Nwakuba, Ebere Uzoma and Chief Charles Amakwe for themselves and on behalf of all the children of IROAGBARA family, (with the 1st Appellant) see Pages 148 and 208 of the Records of Appeal; he referred us to that paragraph 5 of the Appellants’ pleadings at the Lower Court says:

“It was much later that the delegate from Iroagbara family demanded customary settlement because of our building on the land and we settled them accordingly and they issued us with agreement on renewal the plots of land, The Church did not have any dispute with anybody over the land in dispute.”

Counsel wondered why Appellant went through the above, which they pleaded, if the land in dispute belonged, exclusively, to the said Mark Amakwe Iroagbara! He submitted that the Exhibit P supported the case of the Respondent, which CW1, CW2 and CW4 presented, that the original owners of the land in dispute were members of Iroagbara family. He referred us to pages 200, 203, 204 and 209 of the Records of Appeal.

Counsel said the trial Court had found as a fact that the Respondent was the owner of the land in dispute, based on Exhibits A and B (which are the Deed of Irrevocable Power of Attorney, dated 23/2/2007 and registered as N0. 29 at page 29 in Volume 845 in the Lands Registry and Land Agreement between three family units of the families of Iroagbara and Mr. Chika A. Kalu) which formed the root of title of the Respondent. He said that the Exhibit B was a receipt made by representatives of the three smaller families that make the larger family of Iroagbara, the original owners of the land in dispute. He said that the makers of the Exhibit B included Charles Mark Amakwe Iroagbara (the son of Mark Amakwe Iroagbara) who testified as DW2. Thus, Counsel said, the trial Court found as a fact that Appellants, who claimed to have bought the land in dispute from Mark Amakwe Iroagbara in 1995, and power of Attorney issued to them could not tender the said Power of Attorney to show such land transaction between 1st Appellant and the said Mark Iroagbara; he said that Appellants, at the trial Court, abandoned their said root of title and relied on a Power of Attorney (Exhibit L) made by Barr. Johnson E.C. Nwosu of Ahiaba Okpuala in Isiala Ngwa LGA of Abia State, as their root of title. He said there was no evidence led, connecting the said Barr. Johnson E.C. Nwosu with Mark Amakwe Iroagbara or Members of the Iroagbara family, the original owners of the land in dispute.

Counsel stated the five ways of proving or establishing title and ownership of land, as per the case of Ndukuba Vs Isundu (2007) 1 NWLR (Pt.1016) 432; Adenyi Vs Anwase (2006) 12 NWLR (Pt.993) 183, and observed that, in this case, both parties relied on document of title; that while Appellants relied on document of title by Mark Amakwe Iroagbara and later by members of Iroagbara family, the Respondent too relied on document by three families of Iroagbara; but that the document pleaded by Appellants allegedly signed with Mark Iroagbara was not produced, rather Appellants later relied on document Issued to 1st Appellant by Barr. Johnson E.C. Awosu (Exhibit L), which had no connection with Mark Amakwe Iroagbara or members of Iroagbara family! Counsel submitted that it was not sufficient for Appellants who counter-claimed against Respondent, and who relied on a grant made by Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, but abandoned that course at the trial, to turn round to give evidence of grant by Barr. Johnson E.C. Nwosu as a means of proving title to the land in dispute and without proving the title of their grantor – Barr. Johnson E.C. Nwosu; that the link of the said grantor must be made by credible evidence linking the grantor to the original land owner, agreed to be the Iraogbara family, by both sides. He relied on Fatoyinbo Vs Osadeyi (2009) 16 NWLR (Pt.1168) 605; Uche Vs Eke (1998) 9 NWLR (Pt.564) 24. He also relied on Ukaegbu Vs Nwokolo (2009) 3 NWLR (Pt.1127) 194.

Counsel submitted that the findings of fact by the trial Court, in favour Respondent, cannot be disturbed by this Court. He submitted that Appellant was wrong in his allegation that the trial Court started evaluation of the evidence with that of Appellants (who were the Defendants), before taking on that of the Respondent (who was Plaintiff) and so reversed or misplaced the onus of proof, or the person who should discharge the burden of proof.

Counsel submitted that in this case that the Appellant had Counter-claimed, both parties were claimants and each had the burden of establishing his/their claim, and it did not matter whether the evidence of the Defendant was evaluated first; he said that in law, a Counter-claim constitutes a separate and independent action, wherein the Counter-claimant has a duty to prove the Counter-claim, to the satisfaction of the Court, on the same scale as the main case. Counsel said that Appellants failed to show that the land in dispute was granted to them by members of Iroagbara family, agreed to be the original owners of the land. He relied on Balogun Vs Yusuff (2010) 9 NWLR (Pt.1200) 515.

On whether the quality of evidence adduced by Appellants in support of the Counter-claim was such that the trial Court was right to dismiss the Counter-claim, Counsel answered in the affirmative. He said that while Appellants pleaded, in their defence and Counter-clam, that the land in dispute belonged to late Mark Amakwe Iroagbara and not to Iroagbara family, Appellants also claimed that on 6/10/95 the said Mark gave a Power of Attorney to the 1stAppellant over the land in dispute for a consideration of N400,000.00 and pleaded the said Power of Attorney, as a receipt of the money, they failed to tender the same in evidence! See pages 206 – 207 of the Records.

Thus, because Appellants who pleaded that the land belonged to Mark, personally, and relied on the Power of Attorney of 6/10/95 as their root of title, failed to produce the document, that removed the foundation of their case. Counsel said Appellants cannot rely on Exhibit J (the affidavit in proceedings and judgment in HU/90/07), made by Mark Amakwe Iroagbara on 24/3/88, to assert that the land belonged to the said  Mark, personally, because in paragraphs 2 and 3 of Exhibit J the following were deposed to:

“(2) That the said piece or parcel of land is my patrimonial property

(3) That I and my brothers inherited the said land according to our traditional native law and custom from my late father – Iroagbara. That the saidownership of the same was also established by the Umuahia High Court in Suit No. HU/15/77 – Mark A. Iroagbara Vs Bob Ndumele Onwuegbu in the Judgment dated 26th November, 1985, given by Hon. Justice Duke E. Njiribeako on 27th April, 1987.” See page 108 of the Records.

And under cross examination Counsel said the DW1 (Anthony Nwakuba Iroagbara, who testified for Appellants) said:

“Okputa Okporoama” land and the entire area belonged to Iroagbara family. Yes, it was the vast entire “Okputa Okporoama” land that Amakwe Iroagbara sued in Court. “Okputa Okporoama” land was never shared by the sons of Iroagbara.” See page 200 of the Records.

That also, under cross examination, DW2, Mr. Charles Amakwe Iroagbara (Son of Mark Amakwe Iroagbara stated, thus:

“I know the land in dispute; the Defendants’ land bounds the land in dispute. The land in dispute also share boundary with land of the Claimant. The Defendants got their land bounding the land in dispute from my father… I now say that it was Bob Onuegbu who sold the land to the Defendant where they built their Church, the Iroagbara family have not partitioned their land, ‘Okputa Okporoama’ land is a vast land where many are now living and the entire “Okputa Okporoama” land, originally belonged to Iroagbara family, it was Bob Onuegbu who sold different lands in “Okputa Okporoama.” That land in dispute is a part of “Okputa Okporoama” land, it was Bob Onuegbu who sold it.” See pages 203 – 204 of the Records.

Counsel also referred us to the evidence of DW3 and DW4 on the same issue and said that the same had acknowledged the land as family property, that the trial Judge was right, when he dismissed the Counter-claim, considering such quality of evidence. He relied on sections 133 and 134 of the Evidence Act 2011 on the burden of proof, which lies with the person who asserts a thing. See NsefikVs Muna (2007) (Pt.1043) 502.

Counsel said the Respondent had always maintained that the land in dispute was part of the larger Iroagbara family land; that the surviving members of the Iroagbara family sold the land in dispute to him and issued him, with a receipt therefor – Exhibit B, signed by three members of the smaller units of Iroagbara family; that Exhibit A authorized the signatories to act on behalf of the Iroagbara family. Counsel said the Respondent was able to prove his claim and root of title as per the Exhibits A and B; that the evidence of CW1 and CW2 were, unchallenged. He relied on the case of Adesanya Vs Oluewu (1993) 1 SCNJ 77 at 95; Ogubanbi Vs Abowab 13 WACA 222.

He asserted that the trial Court was right in its reasoning and conclusions, giving judgment to Respondent. He urged us to presume the failure of Appellants to produce the alleged instrument of grant of the land allegedly given to them by Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, against them, under section 167(d) of the Evidence Act; that if the same had been produced, it would have been against them. He noted that DW4 attempted to produce a photocopy of the alleged document and later withdrew it, on being opposed. He relied on the case of MBCI Vs ALIFIJIR MINNING NIG LTD (1993) 4 NWLR (Pt.287) 346; AJAO Vs ADEMOLA (2005) 3 NWLR (Pt.913).

Counsel urged us to note that Charles Amakwe Iroagbara, the son of the late Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, was one of the representatives of the Iroagbara family, who signed Exhibit B (Agreement dated 15/11/2006) in favour of the Respondent. He urged us to resolve the Issues for Respondent and dismiss the appeal.

RESOLUTION OF ISSUES

I have already stated that all the Issues raised in this appeal relate to evaluation of the evidence by the trial Court, and that the appeal can be resolved under a single Issue:

“Whether the trial Court was right in giving judgment in favour of the Respondent and dismissing the Counter-claim by Appellants, in the circumstances of this case, considering the evidence adduced on both sides, including the Exhibits A, B, D, E, G, H, J, L and P?”

A simple facts of this case at the lower court shows that both parties to the case claimed to have been settled in the land in dispute by vendor(s) of common ancestry, and admitted to be the original owner(s) of the land in dispute, that is, the Iroagbara Family. But while the Appellants claimed that a member of the said Iroagbara Family – Mark Amakwe Iroagbara – owned the land, personally, relying on the Suit and judgment he had in HU/15/77: Mark Amakwe Iroagbara Vs Bob Ndumele Onwuegbu,delivered on – (Exhibits G & H),the Respondent asserted that the land was a family of Iroagbara family and that the said Mark Amakwe Iroagbara only represented the entire family in the said case in Exhibits G and H. They all placed reliance on Exhibit J, by the said Mark Amakwe. The Respondent claimed to have gotten the land in dispute on 6/10/2007 from the representatives of the Iroagbara family, who signed Exhibit B for him and brought him into possession. But Appellants who earlier relied on a Power of Attorney made, directly, by Mark Amakwe Iroagbara in their favour, in 1995, later placed reliance on a document by some members or the family (Exhibit P) said to be a RENEWAL/REVALIDATION of the earlier agreement between the Appellant and the said Mark Amakwe Iroagbara in 1995. Appellants did not produce the earlier (original) document of title they had with Mark Amakwe Iroagbara. But rather changed their position to place reliance on Exhibit L, donation of the property to them by Barr. Johnson E.C. Nwosu. The trial Court held for the Respondent and dismissed the Appellant’s Counter-claim, finding it difficult to believe their story. The following exhibits are critical in the case:

  • Exhibit A in this case was a document appointing 3 members of the sub-families of Iroagbara family to represent the family in all land agreements about the family
  • Exhibit B: The Power of Attorney by the 3 representatives of Iroagbara family in Exhibit A donating/selling and in dispute to the Respondent.
  • Exhibit D – An affidavit deposed to by Benson Iroagbara, elder brother of Mark Amakwe Iroagbara that the land in HU/15/77 belonged to Nwosu Uluocha and when he died Mark Amakwe Iroagbara inherited the land by tradition, and that Mark represented the family in the case.
  • Exhibit E – a document showing some names of members of Iroagbara family,also authorised to represent the family in land transactions, and they made Exhibit P.
  • Exhibits G & H – proceedings and judgment in HU/15/77
  • Exhibit J – Affidavit by Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, admitting that the land in HU/15/77 was Iroagbara family land, inherited by him and his brothers, from their late father – Iroagbara; that he instituted the Suit in HU/15/77 against Bob Ndumele Onwuegbu.
  • Exhibit L – Document Power of Attorney donated by Barr. Johnson Nwosu to the 1stAppellant, which the court held to have concerned another parcel of land.
  • Exhibit P said to be document Renewing/Revalidating the earlier agreement of 1995 between the 1stAppellant and Mark Iroagbara.

Appellants had placed much reliance on Exhibit G and H, saying that by the proceedings and judgment in the Suit No. HU/15/77, Mark Amakwe Iroagbara was the sole and exclusive owner of the land in dispute in this case (which formed part of the larger land in the earlier Suit HU/15/77). That argument appeared, completely, defeated by the production of Exhibit J, by Appellants, wherein the said Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, himself, deposed to affidavit on 24/3/88 as follows:

“(2) That the said piece or parcel of land is my patrimonial property.

  • That I and my brothers inherited the said land according to our traditional native law and custom from my late father – Iroagbara. That the said ownership of the same was also established by the Umuahia High Court in Suit No. HU/15/77 – Mark A. Iroagbara Vs Bob Ndumele Onwuegbu in the judgment dated 26thNovember 1985, given by Hon. Justice A.O. Ononuju and confirmed by Hon. Justice Duke E. Njiribeako on 27th April 1987.” (See page 108 of the Records of Appeal).

That clearly show that Mark Amakwe Iroagbara took out and maintained the said Suit No. HU/15/77 for himself and on behalf of the said Iroagbara family (see Exhibit D),even if the suit was not so headed expressly. His affidavit, supplying, that vital information made him appear as an honest man of great family interest, who would not use his personal advantage to defraud his family members. Such deposition, in my opinion, appears to be a welcome exception to the legal principle that oral or subsequent evidence, cannot be used to explain or vary the contents of document, that is, if Appellants were right in insisting that the Suit No. HU/15/77 was not fought in a representative capacity. Of course, they will not be right, in view of the Exhibit D and other pieces of evidence in this case. Appellants had argued, rightly, that a documentary evidence is the best evidence (section 125 of the Evidence Act.See Dedo Vs Solanke (2006) 9 NWLR (Pt.986) 477); but they were wrong to say that, since there was nothing to show that Suit No. HU/15/77 was fought in a representative capacity, no oral evidence can be accepted to suggest that Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, who got judgment in the case, did so for the Iroagbara family, not in his personal capacity.

I do not think the cases cited by Learned Senior Counsel, relating to the Issue and to Issue estoppels and/or estoppels by conduct can avail the Appellants, in the circumstances, since it is the same Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, himself, that has comeout to depose that, the land was that of Iroagbara family, and that he, in fact represented the said family in the said case. That in my view rather supports or compliments the facts in Exhibit G and H, wherein the elder brother of Mark Amakwe (Benson) had earlier deposed to Exhibit D, wherein he said Mark represented the family in the Suit. He also told the trial Court, in this case, under cross examination:

“Okputa Okporoama” land and the entire area belonged to Iroagbara family. Yes, it was that vast entire “Okputa Okporoama” land that Amakwe Iroagbara sued in Court. “Okputa Okporoama” land was never shared by the sons of Iroagbara.”See Page 200 of the Records where he was testifying for the Appellants.

Also DW2, the Son of the said Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, testifying for the Appellants, too, said:

“… I now say that it was Bob Onuegbu who sold the land to the Defendant where they built their Church. The Iroagbara family have not partitioned their land. “Okputa Okporoama” land is a vast land where many are living and the entire “Okputa Okporoama” land originally belonged to Iroagbara family.” See page 204 of the Records.

That oral evidence and affidavits supported the documentary evidence, and should be seen as complementary, rather than conflicting or varying. See Ukeji Vs Ukeji (2014) LEPLR – 22724 SC – once documentary evidence supports oral evidence, such oral evidence becomes more credible.Koiki Vs Magnusson (1999) 8 NWLR (Pt.615) 492; Aiki Vs Idowu (2006) 9 NWLR (Pt.984) 50.

The above, in my view, marked the collapse of the entire infrastructure upon which Appellants’ built their case in the Counter-claim, and in defence to the Respondent’s case. It was obvious the land in contention was not a personal land on Mark Amakwe Iroagbara,though he was the sole Plaintiff that took out action to challenge Bob Onuegbu on the land in HU/15/77 and won. Mark Amakwe Iroagbara was acting for Iroagbara family, as he later confessed, and explained, agreeing with the heading of Exhibit D, which was an affidavit, taken out by his Elder brother, Benson, in the same HU/15/77!

By law, any member of the family has competence to take out action to protect or defend a family land, with or without the consent of other members of the family, but in doing so, that does not vest the ownership of the family land on him, exclusively. SeeOguzie & Ors Vs Oguzie (2016) LPELR – 41086 (CA); Sapo Vs Sunmonu (2010) 11 NWLR (Pt.1205) 374; (2010) LPELR – 3015 (SC); Jatti Vs Duwal (2014) LPELR – 24177 (CA). He may, however, enjoy possessory rights over the land until his expenses, incurred in the protection or defence of the land, is settled by the other family members. Sapo and Anor. Vs Sunmonu (supra); SPDCN Vs Edamkue & Ors (2009) 14 NWLR (Pt.1160) 1 (SC).

In resolving the issue as to who, between the late Mark Amakwe Iroagbara and his larger family(family of Iroagbara as a whole) owned the land in dispute, the trial Court said:

“It has been demonstrated and proved that the land in dispute is sandwiched or hemmed in between the Plot Nos. 18 and 20 Umuobasi Street, Umuahia owned by the Claimant and even the defendants agree that the original owner of the Plot Nos. 18 and 20 Umuobasi Street, Umuahia, was the Iroagbara family. I must at this point settle the issue of who, as between the Iroagbara family and the Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, as a person, owned the vast and entirety of “Okputa Okporoama” land of which Plots 18 and 20 Umuobasi Street, Umuahia and the land in dispute form only a tiny part. There is evidence which is undisputed, that the entirety of “Okputa Okporoama” land was a subject of dispute in HU/15/77.

… The Defendants tendered the Exhibit D which showed that Mark A Iroagbara maintained the Suit for himself and as representing the Iroagbara family. The Exhibit is an affidavit deposed to by Benson Iroagbara who was then the eldest brother of Mark Amakwe Iroagbara. The DW4 also tendered the Exhibit J, which is alleged to be an Affidavit of Facts deposed to by Mark Amakwe Iroagbara on 24/3/88… I must also refer to the evidence elicited from the DW4, under cross examination, wherein he said:

“We first bought the land in dispute from Amakwe Iroagbara. The exact area where our Church building is erected was bought from two people. I cannot recollect their names. Obviously the original owners of even where our Church is situate were the Iroagbara family.”

From the above pieces of evidence… it is clear that all the land from Plots 18 and 20 Umuobasi Street, Umuahia through the land in dispute to even where the Church of the 1st Defendant stands, which is No. 16 Eze Akomas Street Umuahia, were all part of the “Okputa Okporoama” land it (sic) and belonged to the Iroagbara family,,,” The Claimant has presented very credible evidence to show that he bought the land in dispute from Hon. Agu Uzomba Iroagbara and Maduabuchi Nwakuba of the Ugba Ibeku Umuahia…” See pages 249 – 251 of the Records of Appeal.

I think the above findings and reasoning are unassailable, especially as the evidence of the Appellants, in support, of their Counter-claim was in disarray, seeking to rely on the root of title passed on to the 1stAppellant by Mark AmakweIroagbara, as sole owner of the land in 1995, following his success in Suit No. HU/15/77. They had pleaded the alleged root of title, but failed to produce it at the trial. Rather, they switched over to Exhibit P, alleged power of Attorney said to be a renewal/revalidation of the earlier (original) agreement between the 1st Appellant and the said Mark Amakwe Iroagbara. Exhibit P itself appears to be a contradiction of the Appellants’ claim that the land belonged to Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, personally, seeing the exhibit asserts that it was a family land and purports to have been signed by representatives of the family of Iroagbara, to renew the sale!

Of course, failure to produce the alleged original agreement allegedly made in favour of 1st Appellant by Mark Amakwe Iroagbara further dainted the claims of Appellants to a valid hold on the land, as the failure to produced the said pleaded document is, by law, presumed against Appellants, that if the same existed and was produced would have been against the Appellants. See section 167(d) of the Evidence Act, 2011.

It also follows, that the Exhibit P Power of Attorney donated by some members of Iroagbara family, relied upon by the Appellants, cannot exist, in the absence of the alleged original agreement said to have been donated to 1st Appellant by the said Mark Amakwe Iroagbara. The contradictions aside, Exhibit P can only be founded on the alleged earlier original agreement,when produced, and cannot therefore hang in the air. The law is that you cannot put something on nothing and expect it to stand! Macfoy Vs UAC Ltd (1962) AC; Oyedare (Mogaji) & Ors Vs Olayinwola (2012) LPELR – 8569 (CA); Hamzat & Anor. Vs Sanni & Ors (2015) LPELR – 24302 (SC); Okwuosa Vs Gomwalk & Ors (2017) LPELR – 41736 (SC).

Appellants had also founded their claim on Exhibit L. Making findings on Exhibit L, the Trial Court held:

“The land in Exhibit L, which Barrister Johnson E.C. Nwosu allegedly sold to the 1st Defendant was Plot 31 (B. part) Aguiyi Ironsi Layout, Umuahia, and according to Exhibit L, the land, subject matter of Exhibit L, was passed on to the said Barrister Johnson E.C. Nwosu by Albert Ukaekwe of Umuobasi Ugba Ibeku Umuahia, but the evidence of the defendants including the DW4, shows that the original owner of the land in dispute in their view was the Iroagbara family or Amakwe Iroagbara, personally. The DW4 said so… It is easy, therefore, to see that the defendants, for reasons best known to them, tendered the bought (sic) Exhibit L which concerned another parcel of land, to create a case in support of them (sic) claim for the land in dispute.” See pages 248 – 249 pf the Records.

In the circumstances, the trial Court held that 1st Appellant had, absolutely, no title over the land in dispute and did not demonstrate any interest which the Court could recognise. I agree with the learned trial Court,that Exhibit P which Appellants relied upon to found their right to the land could not stand on its own, without the alleged original agreement which Exhibit P purportedly renewed or revalidated. But it has to be stated that 1st Appellant appeared to have been a victim of scam by some members of the same Iroagbara family, who appear to have sold the same land to different people!

Appellants have quarreled that the trial Court commenced its evaluation of the evidence with that of the Appellants, thereby implying that the onus of proof was on the Appellants, whereas they were defendants at the Court below; that the trial Court by so doing, misplaced the onus of proof. I think that was a grave misconception by the Appellants’ Counsel, who failed to appreciate that Appellant had a counter-claim in the case and that, by law, a counter-claim is a separate and independent claim/case from the main case brought by the Plaintiff. The trial Court, in considering the Counter-claim, has a duty to approach the same on the standard/principle required to prove the main claim, and the burden is on the Counter-Claimant, to establish his claim, by credible evidence, as the Plaintiff must also do in respect of the main claim, on the preponderance of evidence. See Balugun Vs Yusuff (2010) 9 NWLR (Pt.1200) 515.

It should be noted that the trial Court, specifically, said that it was evaluating the evidence of the Appellant in relation to the Counter-claim, when it said:

“It is at this point one notices a lot of confusion in the evidence of the Defendants told the Court. It should be appreciated that the Defendants Counter-claimed, so they have the same duty as the Claimant on the main suit to prove their case on the preponderance of evidence…” page 247 of the Records of Appeal.

Appellants did not, therefore, appear honest, when they argued to imply that the trial Court misplaced the onus of proof, and was considering the whole case as if Appellants were required to proof the case made by the Respondent! Each side had a duty to establish the case it brought, with credible evidence and the trial Court had duly considered their respective cases, and found the claim of Appellants wanting, confused and speculatory. Of course, the case of the Respondent was supported by the Appellants, who admitted that the land in dispute belonged to Iroagbara family, originally, and there was evidence that the representatives of the said family, as per Exhibit B, were those who transferred their family land to the Respondent, as per Exhibit A. However, I think the same family, which donated the signatories to the Exhibit P (as per Exhibit E), and some of whom also signed the Exhibit B, should be held accountable to the 1st Appellant, having admitted leading the 1st Appellant to the family land! They cannot be allowed to defraud the 1st Appellant, and profit from it. See the case of Benjamin Duru Vs The Gov. of Imo State & Ors: CA/PH/392/2006 delivered on 6/10/17, where my Lord Agbo JCA said:

“This Court cannot be used as an instrument for the sanctification of amoral, reprehensable and fraudulent conduct”

It is interesting to note that Charles Amakwe Iroagbara, the Son of Mark Amakwe Iroagbara, as well as Benjamin Iroagbara and Ebere Uzomba Iroagbara were among the selected representatives of the Iroagbara family in Exhibit B, made to represent the family in all land transactions, and they were among the signatories to Exhibit B, (Power of Attorney), that passed the family land to the Respondent! But the said Charles Amakwe Iroagbara, Benjamin Iroagabara and Ebere Uzomba Iroagbara were also among the representatives of Iroagbara family in Exhibit E, who made Exhibit P for the Appellants! He Charles testified as DW2 for Appellants and ended up destroying their case, when he said that when his father was alive he sold the land to 1st Appellant; that he was present when the father did so; that his father did not sell any land of the family, but only to somersault later, to admit, under cross examination, as follows:

“I now say that it was Bob Onuegbu who sold the land to the defendants where they built their Church. In my place land owners do not sell their lands twice… The Iroagbara family have not partitioned their land… In 1995 Uzomba Iroagbara was still alive. By our custom, my father could not transact on the family’s lands when his older brothers were alive. I say that Amakwe could sell family land even when his older brothers were alive, if there was need for that… “Okputa Okporoama” land is a vast land, where many people are now living and the entire “Okputa Okporoama” land originally belonged to the Iroagbara family, it was Bob Onuegbu who sold to the different landlords in “Okputa Okporoama” land. The land in dispute is a part of ‘Okputa Okporoama’ land and it is Bob Onuegbu who sold it.” see pages 203 – 204 of the Records of Appeal.

That, to me, is admission of fraudulent dealings against the Appellants.

DW4 also did much damage, when he said that Exhibit L was his root of title to the land in dispute, whereas the same had no bearing with the original owner(s) of the land.That, in my view, inflicted more irreparable damage on the case of the Appellants, who called DW2 and DW4 as witnesses. In the circumstances, I cannot fault the decision of the trial Court, and I resolve the Issues against the Appellants and dismiss the Appeal.

I ward the sum of N50,000.00 Fifty Thousand Naira against the Appellants, to the Respondent, as cost of this Appeal.

 

ITA G. MBABA

JUSTICE, COURT OF APPEAL

COUNSEL:

APPELLANT:

OKEY AMAECHI ESQ (SAN) (who settled the brief) and ADIZUA C. OKOROAFOR ESQ, GRANT OSUH ESQ, EMMANUEL OKOROJI ESQ, C. AHANWA ESQ and UCHENDU EZE ESQ

RESPONDENT:

G.I. CHIONYE ESQ, withV.N. EKEOMA ESQ