Whether Complaint Against Jurisdiction is an Appealable Question of Customary Law

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CASE TITLE: ZEDAKOJI & ANOR v. ALOHUTADE (2022) LPELR-56416(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 6TH JANUARY, 2022

PRACTICE AREA: CIVIL PROCEDURE

LEAD JUDGMENT: UGOCHUKWU ANTHONY OGAKWU, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION

This appeal borders on jurisdiction of the Customary Court to entertain land matters.

FACTS

The plaintiff/Respondent instituted an action against the appellants at the Ado-Odo Grade II Customary Court, Ado-Odo in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area of Ogun State. The action was in respect of a piece of land situate at Podofe, Itire via Ado-Odo in Ado-Odo/Ota Local Government Area and which land was said to measure approximately three (3) acres and four (4) plots. The Respondent claimed declaration of title to the said land, trespass and perpetual injunction against the Appellants.

​Upon being served with the originating process, the Appellants filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection, challenging the jurisdiction of the Ado-Odo Grade II Customary Court to entertain a land matter. The trial Court heard the preliminary objection, dismissed the same and affirmed its jurisdiction to entertain the Respondent’s action. Not content with the decision, appellants wrote to the trial Court, asserting their position and notifying the trial Court that they will boycott the proceedings, as they are not submitting to the jurisdiction of the trial Court. This they did.

The trial Court re-asserted the affirmation of its jurisdiction to entertain the action and thereafter adjourned the matter for hearing. ​Hearing thereafter commenced, and notwithstanding the hearing notices served on the Appellants, they failed to attend the trial Court for the hearing of the matter. The Respondent testified in person and called two other witnesses. At the end of the trial, the trial Court held that the Respondent had proved his case and entered judgment for him accordingly.

The Appellants were dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial Court and appealed against to the High Court of Ogun State, which, upon the creation of the Customary Court of Appeal for Ogun State, transferred the appeal to the Customary Court of Appeal of Ogun State. The Customary Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. Further dissatisfied, appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

The issue for determination was:

“Whether the trial Court had jurisdiction to entertain the Respondent’s action.”

DECISION/HELD

In conclusion, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

RATIOS:

  • APPEAL – APPEAL FROM CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL: When will an appeal lie from the decisions of the Customary Court of Appeal to the Court of Appeal
  • APPEAL – APPEAL FROM CUSTOMARY COURT OF APPEAL: Whether complaint against jurisdiction is an appealable question of customary law
  • JURISDICTION – JURISDICTION OF CUSTOMARY COURT: Position of the law as regards jurisdiction of the Customary Court over land matters
  • APPEAL – REPLY BRIEF: Essence of a reply brief; whether a reply is meant to extend/improve the scope of argument/submission in the brief of the appellant

lawpavilion • January 13, 2022


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