PURPOSE OF BRIEF WRITING

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CASE TITLE:  OKOLOCHA v. NWANI & ANOR (2018) LPELR-46013(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 5TH DECEMBER, 2018

PRACTICE AREA: LAND LAW

LEAD JUDGMENT: ABUBAKAR SADIQ UMAR, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT

INTRODUCTION:

This appeal borders on Land Law.

FACTS:

This is an appeal against the decision of the Anambra State High Court, Awka, delivered by P.C. Obiorah J.

The land in dispute originally belonged to one Ikeagwuana family of Orofia village, Enugwu-Ukwu. The case of the Plaintiff/appellant was that the said piece of land was jointly owned by Cajethan Ikeagwuana (the eldest son of the family and who was at the time of the sale based in the United States of America), Okwudili Ikeagwuana (PW1) and the 2nd Defendant/respondent. The Plaintiff/appellant claimed that by virtue of a sale in the year 2001, Okwudili Ikeagwuana (PW1) sold the land with the consent and directive of Cajethan Ikeagwuana. The Plaintiff said that his mother cultivated the said land immediately after the sale.

The case of the 1st Defendant/respondent is that the plaintiff/appellant was his business partner, who markets and sells goods which he sends to Nigeria from Japan. Going by his pleadings, he claimed to have sent some monies to the plaintiff and that the plaintiff acted as his agent in the purchase of the land in dispute. In other words, the plaintiff bought the land on his behalf and that he is rightly building on the said land.

The 2nd Defendant/respondent, on the other hand, who is a member of the Ikeagwuana family, claimed that Owkudili Ikeagwuana had no mandate to sell the said piece of land which he claimed to be his homestead “Ana Obi”. He contended that the land in dispute was no longer a family property as contended by the Plaintiff/appellant and the 1st Defendant/respondent.

Appellant commenced an action against the 1st Respondent in 2006. The 2nd Respondent made an application to be joined as a defendant and the said application was granted by the trial Court. The Appellant claimed the following reliefs:

“a. A declaration that the Plaintiff is entitled to the statutory right of occupancy of the piece or parcel of land situate at Orofia village, Enugwu-Ukwu which land is properly described and delineated in the survey plan No: PNL/AN.MISC 622/2005 which he purchased from the Ikeagwuana family Orofia village, Enugwu-Ukwu.

b. N500, 000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) being general damages for trespass committed to the land by the defendant and his agents.

c. An order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendant, his servants and agents from entering or committing further acts of trespass on the land.”

The 1st Defendant/respondent counter claimed for declaration of title, revocation of the deed of conveyance and irrevocable power of attorney in respect of the land in dispute made in favour of the Appellant and injunction. The 2nd Defendant also counter claimed for declaration of title, nullification of sale of the land to the Plaintiff, damages for trespass and injunction. The parties filed and exchanged their respective amended pleadings and the suit proceeded to trial. At the close of evidence and after the address of counsel, the trial Court dismissed the Plaintiff/appellant’s claims and as well as the counter-claims of the 1st and 2nd Defendants/respondents. Dissatisfied, appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:

The issue for determination, as identified by the Court, is:

“Whether the learned trial judge was right to have dismissed the claims of the appellant.”

DECISION/HELD:

In conclusion, the appeal was dismissed.

RATIOS:

  • APPEAL- ISSUE(S) FOR DETERMINATION: Whether a respondent who has not cross-appealed or filed a respondent notice can raise issues not related to the grounds of appeal filed by the appellant
  • APPEAL- BRIEF WRITING: Purpose of brief writing
  • APPEAL- FORMULATION OF ISSUE(S) FOR DETERMINATION: Whether an Appellate Court can reformulate/reframe issues for determination in an appeal
  • EVIDENCE- BURDEN OF PROOF/STANDARD OF PROOF: Burden and standard of proof in an action for declaration of title to land; whether a plaintiff can rely on the weakness of defence to prove his case

lawpavilion • December 12, 2018


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