Aminu Jinadu & Ors V. Salami Akiyele (1944)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Claim to property belonging to Chieftaincy—Defence relating to Defendant’s status—The Appointment and Deposition of Chiefs Ordinance, 1930, s. 2 (1) and (2). Jurisdiction—Procedure.
Plaintiffs as representing the four houses of the Ejilu Malaki Chieftaincy of Lagos alleged in their Statement of Claim that after 1907 no Chief was appointed ; that following a dispute in 1940 regarding the selection of a Chief, the management was vested in a committee, of which they were members ; that recently Defendant had unlawfully taken possession of the Chieftaincy residence and paraphernalia and was wearing the family head’s emblem ; and that he refused to give them up. Their claim was for their return and a declaration that Defendant had no right thereto.
Defendant alleged that he had been lawfully elected by the Prince Shokun family to be the Ogboni Iduntafa of Iga Oduntafa founded by the late Prince Shokun, his ancestor ; that he had been so installed and capped by the Oba Falolu of Lagos, and that he was therefore entitled to possession. His Counsel raised the point of the Court’s jurisdiction in view of s. 2 (2) of the above Ordinance.
The Judge decided that the possession of the property claimed by Plaintiffs could not be separated from the title of the Chieftaincy, which was the only issue before him—an issue he could not try in view of s. 2 (2) of the Ordinance.
On appeal PlaintiffS (Appellants) argued that subsections (1) and (2) should be read together and that jurisdiction was not ousted where it was only alleged that a person was the nominee of the community and that no appointment had been approved by the Governor ; also that their claim did not raise the question of appointment of a Chief.
that subsection (2) of s. 2 of the Ordinance was not dependent on subsection (1) or limited to cases where the Governor had approved a successor or made an fppointment under subsection (1) ; and that the trial judge was right in deciding that he had no jurisdiction to try the issue whether Defendant’s alleged appointment as Chief had been made in accordance with native law and custom ; but that he was wrong in holding that that was the only issue before him, as there was also the issue regarding possession, on which Plaintiffs were entitled to a decision in due coarse.