SHOULD THE GRANT OF AN APPLICATION FOR THE RENEWAL OF A WRIT ONLY BE MADE EXPARTE?
CASE TITLE: OKPARA v. ANOZIE & ORS (2020) LPELR-49296(CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 21ST JANUARY, 2020
PRACTICE AREA: LAND LAW
LEAD JUDGE: ITA GEORGE MBABA, J.C.A.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on Land Law.
This Appeal is against the judgment of Imo State High Court in Suit No. HOW/98/2007, delivered on 11th March 2013, by Hon. Justice Ngozi Opara, wherein the High Court gave judgment to the Claimants (Respondents on Appeal).
The High Court had earlier on 23/5/2011 granted an order of Interlocutory Injunction in favour of the Claimants, affirming the order of renewal of the originating process, which the Appellant had challenged as having expired 3 years before the Respondents sought an order for its renewal. Appellant filed his Notice of Appeal on 20/3/13 against both the said interlocutory decision and the final judgment, grounds 1 – 3, relating to the interlocutory decision and grounds 4 – 8, relating to the final judgment.
At the High Court, the Respondents (as Claimants) had sought:
(1) Declaration that the Claimants are entitled to the Statutory Right of Occupancy over the land known as UZO AMAKOHIA EGBELU UMUIMEKA, or Plot 199 Works Layout, Owerri, Imo State.
(2) The sum of N10,000,000 (Ten Million Naira) damages for trespass.
(3) Perpetual Injunction restraining the defendant, his privies, agents, workers and servants from further trespass on the land of the Claimants.
The High Court in a well-considered judgment found in favour of the Claimants (Respondents on Appeal).
Dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
The Court determined the appeal on these issues couched as follows:
(1) Whether there was a competent originating process in this matter at the trial Court, upon which the Court conducted and determined the matter.
(2) Whether the trial Court’s final judgment of 11th March 2013 in this matter was not against the weight of evidence, especially considering the fact that the said Court ignored and did not consider the Chart document from Lands Registry Owerri – Exhibit 7, which charted the res – Plot 199 Works Layout, Owerri into the expanse of land DW2, acquired from Declan Amadi – native of Umuimeka, Orji, Owerri, to whom Appellant traced his Donor’s title.
(3) Whether the trial Court did not breach the Appellant’s right to fair hearing, when on the 11th March 2013, before delivering its judgment, it ignored the Appellant’s protest that the Respondents’ final written address was not served on him, for him to exercise his right of reply on points of law.
On the whole, the Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same.
- ACTION- WRIT OF SUMMONS: Position of the Law on the grant of an application for the renewal of a writ and whether such application can only be made exparte; when does a renewed originating process take effect
- APPEAL- HEARING OF APPEAL: Whether the fact that a third party opts to take interest in a res soon after the judgment is delivered over same or during the pendency of an appeal over the judgment affects the powers of the appellate court to hear such appeal
- APPEAL- APPEAL AGAINST INTERLOCUTORY RULING/FINAL DECISION: Whether leave of Court is required to appeal against an interlocutory decision and time within which to apply; effect of failure
- APPEAL- RECORD OF APPEAL: Whether parties and the appellate courts are bound by the record of appeal
- LAND LAW- DOCUMENT OF TITLE: Whether mere production of document of title is sufficient in a claim for declaration of title to land; what the Court must satisfy itself with before the production of documents of title is admitted as sufficient proof of ownership