Chief Adekunle Agbakin Oro & Ors V. Joseph Akanbi Falade & Ors (1995) LLJR-SC

Chief Adekunle Agbakin Oro & Ors V. Joseph Akanbi Falade & Ors (1995)

LAWGLOBAL HUB Lead Judgment Report


This is a chieftaincy matter about the head chief of Oro Ago in Ifelodun Local Government of Kwara State. The parties before us now were among those in the case at the trial High Court, and the Court of Appeal. Suffice here to mention that at the trial High Court the first defendant was Ifelodun Local Government and the 6th defendant, Oba Saliu Alebiosu the Olupo of Ajase-Ipo was the Chairman of Ifelodun Traditional Council. After the High Court judgment the said first and sixth defendants became passive participants, thus preferring to abide by whatever course the case took on appeals to the Court of Appeal and this Court.

The people of Oro Ago claim to come from Ketu, an Egba town now in the Republic of Benin, long before the colonial incursion broke Africa into colonies. The ruling families, according to both contesting parties to the stool of Oloro, descended from a single ancestor who had seven children. As a result of the prowess in summersaulting exercise, the order of seniority for succession to the stool had been since then established. The seven children therefore form the seven ruling houses. However, the seven could be grouped into two branches, to wit, the Oke Oro (which in their dialect they “pronounce “Okoro”) and Ipara. The Oke Oro ruling house comprises five sub-houses as follows:-

(i) Aworo-Ona

(ii) Isaoye

(iii) Iraye

(iv) Omugo and

(v) Okedaba.

The Ipara Ruling house is made up of the remaining two sub-ruling houses, viz;

(i) Oke-Ayin and

(ii) Aiyetoro.

The last Oloro, Muhammadu Dagba, came from Ipara Ruling house. By uninterrupted custom, the selection of Oloro of Aro Ago has always been rotational between Oke Oro and Ipara Ruling Houses and each rotation in a House follows orderly seniority. Thus, the order of seniority in Oke Oro is as given above i.e. Aworo-ona, Isaoye, Iraye, Omugo and Okedaba; and for Ipara, the order of seniority is Oke-Ayin and then Aiyetoro. The only house, according to history based on evidence, that was once jumped was Omugo when the incumbent died before the final rites of installation and Okedaba had to produce the next Oloro; but this was long ago. Otherwise the line and custom of succession had always been followed.

The other custom clearly before the trial Court is that the selection of Oloro of Oro Ago is always a matter exclusively for that Ruling House next to produce one. Thus, when it is the turn of Oke Oro to produce the chief, the members of that Ruling House meet and consider the candidates presented by the sub-house whose turn is to present a candidate. The other ruling house, Ipara will have nothing to do in the selection, for Oke Oro will also never interfere in the selection of candidate from Ipara. After the death of late Muhammadu Dagba, the Oloro, the next Oloro must come from Oke Oro. The Oloro before Oba Dagba having come from Iraye sub-house, the next candidate for the stool must come from Omugo sub-house

It must be pointed out that both David Kolade the candidate for Omugo house and Joseph Akanbi Falade from Okedaba house are from Oke Oro Ruling House. They are the 6th appellant and second respondent respectively. The son of the fifth respondent as P.W. 2 gave evidence for the plaintiffs and it is remarkable and revealing what he has to say as follows:

“I know the 5th defendant the Esinkin of Oke-Ayin. He is my father. I am a member of the Oke-Ayin family in Ipara group of ruling houses and I am a native of Oro-Ago. The 5th defendant is one of the kingmakers in Oro land. The 5th defendant is Chief Esinkin of Oke-Ayin in Ipara group. It is not correct to say that my father the 5th defendant is the Chairman of the Council of kingmakers for both the Ipara and Okoro groups of ruling houses in Oro-Ago.

There are seven kingmakers in Oro-Ago. Five of who are from Okoro and the remaining two are from Ipara ruling house. At any meeting of the 7 kingmakers the Aworo-ona from Okoro group is the chairman. It is only when the two kingmakers from Ipara meet that the 5th defendant becomes the Chairman. If it is the turn of the Ipara group to present a candidate for the Oloro stool it is their own responsibility. The Okoro group will not intervene. It is only after, the nomination by the Ipara group that the candidate will be presented to the Okoro group as the nominated candidate from Ipara. The Okoro group cannot object to any nomination made by the Ipara group.

Similarly, when it is the turn of the Okoro group to present a candidate the members of the Ipara group will not intervene with the nomination to be made by Okoro which will after the nomination present their candidate to the Ipara group. This is the custom.

I know the late Oloro of Oro-Ago Mohammed Dagba. He was appointed the Oloro of Oro Ago in 1962. He was from Ipara group. The Okoro group did not play any part in the appointment of Oba

Mohammed Dagba. He was nominated and appointed by the Ipara group. After which he was presented to Okoro group.

I know the 2nd defendant Joseph Akanbi Falade and I am aware that he was purportedly appointed the Oloro of Oro-Ago sometime in 1986. I also know the 4th defendant Chief Ogege Arekujo.

I have seen Exhibit 1, the Esinkin of Oke Ayin therein referred to is the 5th defendant, my father. While the Oju of Aiyetoro mentioned in Exhibit I is the 4th defendant from Ipara group. Under the native law and custom of the people of Oro Ago for the nomination and appointment of an Oloro of Oro Ago Exhibit 1 was not proper as it violates the custom. Whenever it is the turn of Ipara group to nominate an Oloro it is its own sole responsibility to nominate the candidate from within the Ipara group. The Ipara group cannot participate in the nomination of a candidate when it is the turn of Okoro group. I know the Olupo of Ajase-po the 6th defendant. I also know the Irepodun/lfelodun Traditional Council, the 7th defendant on 26th June, 1986 there was a meeting of the Irepodun/lfelodun Traditional Council at Ajase-po and I was invited by the Council’s secretary to attend the meeting. I attended the meeting. The Olupo of Ajase-po and Chairman of the Traditional Council invited the five groups from Okoro Ruling House of Oro Ago to go home and call a meeting of the kingmakers comprising of Okoro group only and nominate a suitable candidate for the Oloro stool and forward the name of any such nominee to the Traditional Council of Ajase-po. After this I left Ajase-po with the Okoro group kingmakers. The 5th defendant also attended that meeting. The 3rd defendant was also present at that meeting. I know that the 5th defendant, my father is not literate in both English and Yoruba language.

Cross examination by Otu:

I know I am above 50 years old. The founder of my community was one Ajagun. His descendants founded the 7 ruling houses in Oro Ago. There has been piece in Oro-Ago since its inception because of the peoples love for tradition and precedence. It is because of an attempt to overturn this tradition that we now have this suit in Court. The Ipara group is now attempting to overturn the tradition. In 1962, I was in Oro Ago, I remember that as at 1962 I was still in the Nigeria Police Force. My station then was Ilorin. I have never attended any meeting of the Okoro group or the Okedaba ruling house except the meeting of the Traditional Council which I attended at Ajase-po.

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When it is the turn of the Okoro group to nominate and present a candidate for the vacant stool of Oloro of Oro-Ago it is only the Okoro group that will sign the nomination letter sent to the Traditional Council. The Okoro group will only present the name of their nominated candidate to Ipara group which is normally not involved in signing the nomination letter to be sent to the Traditional Council. Exhibit 1A is the application for the appointment of the late Oloro of Oro Ago dated 5th May, 1962, The signatories to Exhibit 1A include two names from Omugo” The application to the Ifelodun Traditional Council, Exhibit IA captioned:

“Application for the Appointment of Oloro of Oro Ago” is certainly the main plank of the defendants/respondents’ case. But what did the learned trial Judge have as evidence on the makers of this document P.W. 3 said he was invited by P,W. 5, Babajamu from Okedaba, to thumb-print the document; he was also the nephew of the late Oba Dagba. However, Babajamu (P.W. 5) denied writing the document and that he even did not know when it was thumb-printed. Apart from P.W. 3, none of those who purportedly thumb-printed Exhibit 1A was called as witness even though two of them were alive at the time of trial; in fact one seemed to be all the time in Court. The mischief in Exhibit 1A is that it placed Omugo house next to Aworoona (otherwise known as Oganyin) in seniority to create the impression that Omugo was senior to Iraye and Isaoye. Okedaba was placed last in Exhibit 1A to create the impression that it was the next house to produce Oloro on the demise of Oba Dagba. Learned trial Judge comparing various writings of P. W. 5, Babajamu, including Exhibit 23 which he wrote to one Dr. P.O.A. Dada, and Exhibit 1A, came to the conclusion that P.W. 5 made Exhibit 1A. as an interested party for he was also a candidate for the Oloroship for Okedaba House. It is therefore clear that Exhibit 1A was made to confuse or to gain advantage or both to the detriment of the age long tradition of Oro Ago in peaceful rotation of the chieftaincy stool of Oloro. It is interesting that Exhibit 1 is made on the basis of Exhibit 1A which contains all the shortcomings not expected of a genuine document. The six chiefs, who allegedly signed Exhibit 1 are illiterates and there was no jurat to indicate that it was read and translated to them and they understood the document. Not only that they allegedly appended their names which they could not have done being illiterates.

Therefore whether the names or thumb prints the jurat’s absence makes Exhibit 1

Quoted immediately above. All the parties agree it is turn of Oke Oro to present a candidate but the twist given to the line of seniority in Exhibit 1A and 1 is what

The documents Exhibits 1A and 1 influenced the decision of Ifelodun Local Government and the Chairman of Ifelodun Traditional Council, Olupo of Ajassepo in arriving at a wrong conclusion and approving the appointment of Joseph Akanbi Falade as the Oloro of Oro-Ago.

The learned trial Judge, after a thorough and painstaking review and evaluation of all the evidence before him came to the conclusion that the present appellants as plaintiffs proved their case to his satisfaction and disbelieved the defendants now respondents. He granted all their prayers and found that the appointment of Joseph Akanbi Falade was null and void and entered judgment for the plaintiffs.

Against the decision of the trial High Court Judge (Orilonise J.), the respondents who were defendants in that Court appealed to the Court of Appeal. Against the Grounds of Appeal, the respondents as appellants in that Court formulated the following issues for determination.

“(1) Whether the learned trial Judge was not in error when he held that Exhibits 1, 1A, 7 and 7A were vitiated by fraud and forgery and that they were thereby null and void.

(2) Whether the learned trial Judge was not in error when he held that Exhibits 1, 1A, 7 and 7A were void because they did not comply with the Illiterates Protection Law, and whether he was right to have voided them.

(3) Whether the learned trial Judge was right when he held that Exhibit 1A formed the basis upon which the appellants founded their case.

(4) Whether the learned trial Judge was right when he held that the Ipara group of Kingmakers participated actively in the selection, nomination and approval of the 2nd defendant (now appellant) as the Oloro of Oro-Ago, and that such participation was contrary to native law and custom of Oro-Ago.

(5) Whether the learned trial Judge was right in his findings as to the customary law relating to the selection, nomination and approval of any Oloro of Oro-Ago, and that the selection, nomination and approval of the 2nd defendant as the Oloro of Oro Ago was null and void”

Against the issues and grounds of appeal the appeal was fully argued by the parties. The issues as formulated by the present respondents as appellants in the Court of Appeal were similar to those formulated by the present appellants as respondents; thus the Court of Appeal ought to have no difficulty resolving the issues between the parties, Okunola, J.C.A. (with Achike, J.C.A. and Oduwole, J.C.A. concurring) wrote the lead judgment. He reviewed all the evidence in the trial Court and the submissions before him. I have set out the issues as formulated for determination by the respondents as appellants in the Court of Appeal which are identical to those formulated by the present appellants as respondents. However, learned Justices of the Court of Appeal, in the lead judgment, curiously held that the main issue for determination “before us is

“That it is the turn of Okedaba to present the present candidate”

With great respect. the issues formulated never adverted in any line to what I have null and void under illiterates (Protection) Law. D.W. 10, Chief Balogun, the Esikin of Oke Ayin, who also allegedly signed Exhibit 1 was illiterate; so were the others is the strong issue and the decision of the learned trial Judge that those Exhibits are unreliable and never portrayed the true custom of selecting the Oloro of Oro Ago.

However, the Court of Appeal decided the appeal certainly not on the issues before it, but on a completely different ground. The evidence of D.W. 10, Chief Balogun Gbenle, the Esinkin of Okeayin (the 5th defendant) was quoted extensively and I feel it is pertinent to quote it in this judgment as follows:

“I know Joseph Akanbi Falade. He is the present Oloro presented by Okedaba ruling family. After the death of Oba Dagba, Owa sent a message to Ola that it was the turn of Okeoro group to present a candidate. Owa is the next to the Oloro-Ola then called a meeting at Aleoko. The meeting was attended by Oro Ago community and traditional Chiefs. At that meeting it was agreed that it was the turn of Okedaba ruling house to present a candidate. Okedaba then presented Joseph Akanbi Falade. The Okeoro group held other meetings after the meeting at Aleoko. I did not attend the other meetings of Okeoro group. The seven kingmakers held a meeting to deliberate on the choice of a candidate from Okeoro group. Only five kingmakers held the meeting to deliberate on the selection and nomination of Joseph Akanbi Falade because two of the seven kingmakers for Oro Ago had died and no replacements had been made. The five kingmakers who met to deliberate on the nomination of Oba Falade are:

(1) Arogun of Okedaba

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(2) Ajapona Arebedun of Iraye

(3) Ooju Arekujo of Ayetoro

(4) Esinkin of Okeayin (myself)

(5) Asapakin Ajibaye.

The kingmakers accepted the nomination of Joseph Akanbi Falade and wrote to the Ifelodun Local Government at Share for the approval of Oba Joseph Akanbi Falade as the new Oloro of Oro Ago. When the Local Government did not send a reply the kingmakers wrote another letter. There are seven ruling houses in Oro Ago and the Oloro stool is rotated among the ruling houses. There are two groups of Okeoro and Ipara. In the Okeoro group there are Aworoona, Isaoye. Okedaba. Iraye and Omugo in that order of ascension. In the Ipara group are, Okeayin and Ayetoro also in that order. I have known six past Oloros since I was born. They are Oba Ariyunkeye from Okeayin, Oba Salami of Aworoona, Oba Bakare of Ayetoro. Oba Aseperi of Isaoye. Oba Dagba from Okeayin and Oba Akanbi Falade from Okedaba. The kingmakers are the messengers to the Bales and the Bales must know whenever any new Oloro is to be installed. The Bales are responsible for calling on the kingmakers in Oro Ago to arrange for a new Oloro once the Owa informs Chief Ola of the demise of any Oloro of Oro Ago. The kingmakers did not receive any protest letter after it had approved the nomination and selection of Oba Akanbi Falade.”

Learned Justice of Appeal then held that from the quoted evidence above the evidence of D.W.10 was germane to the issue for determination as formulated by him i.e. “That it is the turn of Okedaba to present a candidate” and that trial Court failed to consider this evidence which would have assisted it in arriving at findings of fact. He held D.W. 10 was a vital witness (contrary to what the trial court found as a fact). Because of this alleged failure to consider the evidence of D.W.10, he relied on a number of cases e.g Fatunde v. Onwoamanam ( 1990) 2 NWLR (Pt.132) 322; (1990) 4 SCNJ 24; that the matter was not properly considered by the trial court. He therefore concluded as follows:

“In sum, this appeal succeeds and it is allowed on the ground that the trial court failed to give consideration to a crucial issue raised in the pleadings and the evidence before it. In consequence, I order that this cause be retried de novo by a different judge of Omu Aran High Court other than those that had at one time or other been involved in the case.”

He relied on ldika v. Erisi (1988) 3 NWLR (Pt. 78) 563; Umar v. Bayero University (1988) 4 NWLR (Pt. 86) 85 and Atanda v. Ajani (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 111) 511 to support his ordering trial de novo. It is against this setting aside judgment of the trial court and ordering a retrial that the plaintiffs appealed to this court. The appellants set out the following issues for determination:

“1. Whether the lower court was right when it held that the learned trial Judge did not consider the evidence of D.W.10 (Chief Balogun the Esinkin of Okeayin).

  1. Having regard to the claims of the plaintiffs and the findings of fact made by the learned trial Judge, is the lower court right when it held that the central or main issue for determination is that it is Okedaba ruling house that is to present the next Oloro of Oro-Ago when there was no counter-claim and same was not made an issue before the lower court
  2. Whether having regard to the facts and circumstances of this case the Court of Appeal was justified in making an order of retrial.
  3. What is the effect where crucial and fundamental findings of fact of a court are not appealed against”

The respondents’ issues for determination are virtually the same as their counsel adopted the first three issues: the fourth issue he submits is “purely academic and unrelated ex facie to the judgment of the court below”

The D.W. 10, is the 5th defendant/respondent, Chief Balogun the Esinkin of Oke-Ayin, i.e. belonging to the senior of the two sub-houses of Ipara Ruling House. According to preponderance of evidence, even from Joseph Akanbi Kolade who was being installed Oloro from Okedaba by this D.W.10. it was not the function of D.W.10 to participate in the nomination of any candidate for Oloro from OkeOro House as he belonged to Ipara House. The learned Justice of the Court of Appeal held, to which his learned brothers concurred, that the evidence of D.W.10 was not considered and that led to the appeal being allowed and a trial de novo being ordered. But the evidence abundantly in the printed record is against this finding. The evidence of D.W.10 is virtually in line with other witnesses for defence and very cogent reasons in learned trial Judge’s judgment were misapprehended by the Court of Appeal. D.W.10 was one of the principal makers of Exhibits 1 and 1A which learned trial Judge held to be not genuine, his use of the word “forgery” notwithstanding. By the evidence before the court there was hardly a body known as “Oro-Ago Kingmaker” as Exhibit 1 is headed. It is in form of a letter to the Sole Administrator of Ifelodun Local Government saying a group of persons Chief Esinkin (i.e. Balogun, Esinkin of Oke-Ayin, D.W.10), Chief Asapakin, Chief Ajapona, Chief Ooju, Chief Arogun and Chief Oore – has nominated Joseph Akanbi Falade of Okedaba as the new Oloro of Oro-Ago. In Oro Ago, according to the evidence before trial Judge and believed in preference to incoherent testimonies of the defendants, the letter Exhibit 1, should not have been relied upon because Esinkin of Oke-Ayin, i.e. D.W.10 ought not to feature as a kingmaker for Oke-Oro as he belongs to Ipara. Again Asapakin for Isaoye and Ajapona for Iraye, are not kingmakers once there was Chief Oloba who is the head of Isaoye and the kingmaker for that family of Isaoye. Esinkin and Ooju are for Okeayin and Aiyetoro houses respectively.

Upon all the above evidence, assuming learned trial Judge merely reviewed the evidence of D.W. 10 without evaluating and making a finding on it, the preponderance of evidence as found by him in that the D.W.10 cannot be believed as he merely meddled in a matter of Oke-Oro that never concerned him. However, having considered Exhibits 1 and 1A, to which D.W. 10 purportedly subscribed and which trial court found to be spurious documents not worthy of any reliance, the bottom is totally knocked out of D.W. 10’s evidence. The learned trial Judge found against him evidence of D.W. 10 that Exhibits 1 and 1A could not be relied upon, Exhibit 1. I have explained above; but Exhibit 1A purports to be older document made in 1962 and written to Borin Native Authority now replaced by Ifelodun Local Government. Like Exhibit 1 it is also a letter thumb printed by the alleged writers whose knowledge of the document is disputed. At any rate both Exhibit 1 and Exhibit 1A are not legal document under any Chieftaincy Law and are not Chieftaincy Declarations. There is no seal of any recognised authority on any of them; such letters could be written by any group of persons and they certainly do not attain any force of law. So are Exhibits 2, written by a group calling itself Oro-Ago Princes, Exhibit 5, by a group calling itself Oro-Ago Community and so many others – Exhibits 6, 6A-F, Exhibits 7,7 A, 7B and C. They are either petitions or letters claiming to be authentic order of,succession of Oloro.

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Learned Justices of Appeal were grossly in error to have even confined themselves to alleged failure to evaluate and make finding on the evidence of D.W.10. In all the cases before an appellate court, it is always right to consider all the issues raised except for compelling reasons where those other issues have been obviously overridden by a fundamental defect in one of the issues raised by the trial court’s decision cannot be allowed to stand. Anyaduba & Anor v. Nigerian Re- nowned Trading Co. Ltd. (1992) 5 NWLR (Pt.243) 535; Okonji v. Njokanma (1991) 7 NWLR (Pt. 202) 131; Balogun v. Labiran (1988) 3 NWLR (Pt. 80) 66 at 80. It was also an error by the Court of Appeal to overlook the issues raised by the parties and formulate its own issues to replace those made by the parties. The parties should be confined to their field of battle to avoid juridical mismanagement, for to shy away from the issues the parties desire to fight and formulate a new one for them which they never addressed may result in miscarriage of justice. U.BA. Ltd. v. Achoru (1990) 6 NWLR (Pt.156) 254; (1990) SCNJ 17; Ochonma v. Unosi ( 1965) NMLR 321.

It is apparent that the Court of Appeal never adverted fully to what is contained on the written record; had it taken extra care the full impact of the D.W. 10’s evidence would easily have been gleaned vis-a-vis the evidence of the other defendants and their witnesses which the trial court totally and rightly rejected. Trial court diligently evaluated the entire evidence before it and came to a conclusion on the facts that the evidence for the plaintiffs carried convincing weight and that the defendants’ evidence for all its defects, could not be believed. Unless the findings of fact are perverse or inconsistent with the evidence or are otherwise based on the evidence not legally admissible, it is not the business of the Court of Appeal to interfere with them. Highgrade Maritime Services Ltd. v. F.B.N; Ltd. (1991) 1 NWLR (Pt. 167) 290; Iriri v. Erhurhobara (1991) 2 NWLR (Pt. 173) 252; Ekpa v. Utong (1991) 6 NWLR (Pt.197) 358; Bamgboye v. Olarewaju (1991) 4 NWLR (Pt. 184) 132.

The learned trial Judge found nothing worthy of legal declaration of chieftaincy in Exhibit 1 and 1A, the documents are not any documents known to law and there is nothing remotely perverse, illegal, or irregular in his not regarding them as worthy of serious consideration. He found that D.W.10 was merely meddling in the affairs of Oke-Oro Ruling House to which he did not belong and had no right to interfere with. He found the next sub-house to produce Oloro of Oro-Ago is the sub-house known as Omugo and these findings are amply supported by the evidence before him. The announcement by Olupo of Ajase Ipo and Ifelodun Council of Chiefs recognising the second defendant’ as Oloro of OroAgo was based on their being misled by Exhibits 1 and 1A that it was not yet the turn of Okedaba to present a candidate. All these are sound findings of fact which the Court of Appeal waived off as irrelevant. The Court of Appeal has erred in so doing.

On behalf of the respondents, this Court has been asked that in case we found that the Court of Appeal acted in error in their view of the evidence of D.W.10 and how the trial court treated it, this matter should be remitted for hearing by the Court of Appeal on the other issues not considered. On what is before this Court, it is impossible for this Court to order a hearing. There is no cross-appeal by the respondents and this Court can only grant what is prayed for legally and procedurally. A successful party who intends this Court to vary a judgment of the Court of Appeal must as a respondent cross-appeal since this Court has repealed the filing of respondents’ Notice. So a decision not appealed against cannot be canvassed in the appellate court Commerce Assurance Ltd. v. Alii (1992) 3 NWLR (Pt. 232) 710. Similarly, a successful party in the Court of Appeal who is averse to some part of that Court’s decision can only challenge that portion of the decision in the Supreme Court only if there is a cross-appeal filed. Ceekay Traders Ltd. v. General Motors Co. Ltd. (1992) 2 NWLR (Pt. 222) 132. Before the respondent’s notice under Order 8 rule 3(1) and (2) of this Court was repealed, a party who won in the Court of Appeal could only have part of the judgment varied in the Supreme Court by either filing respondents notice or cross-appealing. See Attorney-General. Oyo v. Fairlakes Hotels Ltd. (No.2) (1989) 5 NWLR (Pt. 121) 255; Yesufu v. Cooperative Bank Ltd. (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 110)483; Adekeye v. Akin-Olugbade (1987) 3 NWLR (Pt. 60) 214; Western Steel Works v. lron and Steel Workers (1987) 1 NWLR (Pt. 49) 284; Kotoye v. Central Bank of Nigeria (1989) 1 NWLR (Pt. 98) 419.

The powers of this court under S. 22 Supreme Court Act whereby an order the Court below ought to make could be made here, regrettably could not be invoked. Assuming the Court of Appeal considered all other issues instead of relying solely on purported failure to consider the evidence of D.W. 10, I find no avenue whereby strong and unassailable findings of fact by trial Judge could be set aside without being perverse.

I find great merit in this appeal and the Court of Appeal certainly was in error to have narrowed down the issues it considered but was in total misapprehension of the facts before the trial court whose findings of fact on all authorities cannot be faulted. For the reasons I have adumbrated above, this appeal therefore succeeds and I allow it.

I set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal and in its stead I restore the judgment of the trial Court. I order N1,000.00 as costs in this Court against each set of respondents; N500.00 in the Court of Appeal against each set of defendants/respondents and the costs ordered by the Court of Appeal if already paid to be refunded to the plaintiffs/appellants.


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