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Home » Nigerian Cases » Supreme Court » Jacob A. Jolayemi & Ors Vs Alhaji Alaoye (2004) LLJR-SC

Jacob A. Jolayemi & Ors Vs Alhaji Alaoye (2004) LLJR-SC

Jacob A. Jolayemi & Ors Vs Alhaji Alaoye (2004)

LAWGLOBAL HUB Lead Judgment Report

A. KALGO, JSC

This is an appeal from the decision of the Court of Appeal, Ilorin Division, Ilorin, in which it affirmed the judgment of the trial High Court Holden at Omu-Aran, in the Omu-Aran Judicial Division of Kwara State. According to paragraph 31 of the Statement of Claim, the Appellants who were the plaintiffs at the trial, claimed against the respondents, jointly and severally for:-

“i. DECLARATION that under the applicable native law and custom at Arandun, it is only the family compound of the Plaintiffs by name IMOJI compound that is entitled to present candidate (s) to fill any vacancy in the Ejemu Alaran Chieftaincy stool of Arandun.

DECLARATION that the family/compound of the 1st defendant that is; Imode compound has no right to present any candidate to fill any vacancy in the Elemu Alaran chieftaincy stool.

iii. DECLARATION that the 1st defendant is ineligible and not qualified to be selected, appointed and installed as the Ejemu Alaran of Arandun nor to perform the functions of the office or collect the perquisites attached thereto.

DECLARATION that the 2nd defendant has no power under the applicable Arandun native law and customs pertaining to the Ejemu Alaran Stool to approve the appointment of any person that is not from the Imoji compound at Arandun.

DECLARATION that the 3rd Plaintiff having being chosen and selected by the Imoji compound and presented traditionally to the 2nd defendant is the rightful person to occupy the vacant Ejemu Alaran stool of Arandun.

ORDER setting aside any purported selection, nomination appointment, approval and installation of the 1st defendant or any other person from his Imode compound/family.

vii. PERPETUAL INJUNCTION restraining the 1st defendant from continuing henceforth to hold himself out or under any form of ceremony in pursuance of his purported ambition of becoming the Ejemu Alaran and restraining the 2nd defendant or any other person for the time being acting for him from recognising the 1st defendant as the Ejemu Alaran. Perpetual injunction restraining the defendants jointly and severally from holding out, presenting, parading or in any other manner put the 1st defendant forward as the Ejemu Alaran.

viii. ORDER directing the 2nd defendant to appoint, approve and install the 3rd plaintiff as the rightful Ejemu Alaran forthwith”

The action was a chieftaincy dispute concerning the tool of Ejemu Alaran of Arandun in Irepedun Local Government of Kwara State. It all started with the movement of people from Omu Aran to a new settlement called Arandun. This was in or about 1931 and before then the people were under the Ejemu Alaran. When the people were moving it is alleged that the Ejenin Alaran told them that whenever they settled as new found land, they should maintain their chieftaincy to avoid any controversy. The appellants, together with others, moved and settled at Arandun in or about 1931. There were 6 compounds in Arandun and the appellants belonged to the Moji or Imoji compound and the respondents belonged to Mode or Imode compound. At Arandun the people maintained the stool of Ejemu Alaran and up till 1994 when the last Ejemu Jimoh Oyebanji died, the compound of Imoji produced all the Ejemus of Arandun from 1931 when the settlement was founded. In 1994, the respondents, from the Imode compound protested the appointment of any member of the Imoji family on the ground that according to native law and custom, the post of Ejemu Alaran of Arandun should be rotated between the Imoje and the Imode compounds and that this time it was their turn. This briefly is the substance of the dispute in this case.

The parties filed their pleadings and called witnesses to support their case on pleadings. The learned counsel for the parties also addressed the court at length both in writing and orally alter their witnesses’ evidence. The learned trial judge considered all these and came to the conclusion in her judgment that:-

“The plaintiffs have failed to satisfy this court from the evidence adduced that they have exclusive right to the stool of Ejemu Alaran chieftaincy and as such all the reliefs sought by them have failed and are accordingly dismissed”.

The appellants were dissatisfied and appealed to the court of Appeal. The appeal was dismissed as being without merit and the decision of the trial court was affirmed.

The appellants have now appealed to this court. The appellants and the 1st respondent filed their written briefs in court as required by the court rules and exchanged them between themselves. The 2nd respondent did not file any brief.

In the appellants’ brief the following issues were formulated for the determination of this court:-

“1. Which of the traditional histories should the courts below have believed having regard to the pleadings and evidence led at the trial of this action.

Were the High Court and the Court of Appeal right in considering pre- 1931 history when determining which family was entitled to produce the chieftaincy title Ejemu – Alaran of Arandun.

Was proper consideration given to the contents of Exhibit D”.

The 1st respondent also raised 3 issues which read:-

Whether the Court of Appeal is right when it held that the Defendants/Respondents adequately proved that the family of the Appellants were adequately represented at the meeting reflected in Exhibit D.

Whether the Court of Appeal was right in holding that the respondents have produced Ejemus prior to 1931 and whether non pleading of the names of the Ejemus vitiates the finding.

Which of the traditional histories should the Courts below have believed having regard to the pleadings and evidence led at the trial of this action”.

I have examined the grounds of appeal and the issues filed by both parties and I am of the view that the appellants’ issues are apt and germane to this appeal and the issues raised by the 1st respondent can properly be argued or considered in the appellants’ issues. I shall therefore consider the appellants’ issues.

The appellants, as plaintiffs, pleaded in their Statement of Claim as follows: –

“1. The plaintiffs are important and principal members of Imoji compound of Arandun and they brought this action for themselves and the other members of Imoji compound of Araridun.

The 3rd plaintiff was the person selected and chosen by the Imoji compound to succeed to the Ejemu Alaran stool that become vacant on the demise of Chief Oyebanji Jimoh on 12th August 1994.

The plaintiffs aver that there are six large compounds/families at Arandun with each compound having a particular chieftaincy title exclusively to itself.

The plaintiffs aver that Arandun was established in or about 1931 by people families and compounds that migrated from Omu Aran. The plaintiffs shall lead evidence oral and, documentary of the settlement at Arandun.

The plaintiffs aver that the Ejemu Alaran Chieftaincy title is a ruling house title that belongs exclusively to male members of Imoji compound.

The plaintiffs aver further that any Ejemu Alaran once installed also doubles as the Baale of Omiririn, a neighbouring village near Arandun.

The plaintiffs aver that under the relevant native law and custom pertaining to the Ejemu Alaran chieftaincy stool (oral and documentary evidence of which will be led at the trial) it is the responsibility of the members of Imoji compound to select and nominate a candidate to fill any vacancy in the Ejemu Alaran stool.

The plaintiff avers that since the establishment of Arandun over 65 years ago there had been 3 Ejemu Alarans all from the Imoji compound and they are as follows:

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Idowu Ebijareole.

Dada Jolayemi Ewedunmoye.

Oyebanji Jimoh Inawole.

The plaintiffs aver that after the demise of Ejemu Dada Jolayemi Ewedunmoye sometime in 1971 the 2nd defendant as the Oba of Arandun attempted to put a usurper from Imode compound by name Eshorun Adeoti on the Ejemu Alaran stool.

The plaintiffs aver that members of their compound protested vehemently to the then District Officer Mr. Ameh Adaji who set up an Ad hoc committee to look into the matter.

The plaintiffs aver that when the ad hoc committee completed its assignment sometime in 1972, it found in favour of the claims of the plaintiffs compound and the District Officer ordered the 2nd defendant to remove Eshorun Adeoti and to install Ejemu Oyebanji Jimoh.

The plaintiff’s aver that as a result of the averments in paragraphs 10 and 11 above, the 2nd defendant installed Ejemu Oyebanji Jimoh as the rightful Ejemu Alaran sometime in 1972.

The plaintiff aver that the defendant is from Imode compound and is not in anyway related to the plaintiffs at Imoji compound and is therefore not entitled to the Ejemu Alaran stool.

The plaintiffs aver that when the component units or compound were leaving Omu Aran for Arandun to settle, it was agreed that each compound should keep its traditional chieftaincy.

The plaintiffs aver that there are some chieftaincies rotated between some compounds but the Ejemu Alaran is not one of such chieftaincies. Only the members of Imoji compound of the male line could occupy the stool.

The plaintiffs aver that the last Ejemu Alaran was chief Oyebanji Jimoh for short and he was from Imoji compound and he passed on 12th August, 1994′.

At the trial the appellants called 3 witnesses to prove their claims. P.W.1. testified that:-

“In Arandun we have six family compounds. They are, Oke-Isan, Moji, Mode Ajaa, Oke Apa, Isedo. Arandun was founded about 65 years ago. The people of Arandun came from Omu Aran to settle there. The families that are entitled to produce the Ejemu Alaran is Moji compound. I know a village called Omirinrin. It is my father’s farm. Ejemu Moji owns Omirinrin. Idowu Ebi-Jareole is known to me Idowu Ebijarare-Ole was Ejemu Alaran Moji.

There was no Ejemu before him. He was the 1st Ejemu after him there was another Ejemu called Ejemu Dada Jolayemi Ewedunmoye. After Ewedunmoye thore was Jimoh Oyebanji. After the death of Ewedunmoye when Ejemu Oyebanji was to be installed as Ejemu, the Oba then installed one Adeoti Esoroun was from Mode compound. Oyebanji was from Moji compound. As a result of this we Informed the whole town that, that was strange.

The report was ledged with the District Officer in Omu-Aran. What the Oba did was within my personal knowledge Esorun Adeoti was removed and Oyebanji was made the Ejemu Alarandun. All the three past Ejemus were from Moji compound in Arandun. The 1st defendant is not related to Moji compound and is not entitled to be made the Ejemu Alaran. Before the people of Arandun left Omu Aran, I heard through history that when the Alaran was leaving to found his own town, he appealed to all the chiefs to maintain their chieftaincy whenever they got to a new found land as he did not want any light over the land or chieftaincy. Ejemu chieftaincy has never rotated between our compound and any other compound in Arandun”.

W. 2. also said: –

“Arandun is made up of six large units or families comprising smaller units in some cases. The compounds are Oke Isan, Imoji, Imode, Ajaah, Apai and lluro or Isedo. Apart from Alaran of Arandun chieftaincy, there are 9 (nine) other chieftaincies in Arandun. Alaran, Odofin, Esa, Jemu Apa, Aro, Asanlu, Ejemu Aran, Elemo and Oloo. Imoji compound or family has exclusive right to nominate and select Ejemu-Aran. It is exclusively the right of Imode to fill Ejemu chieftaincy. The 1st defendant is from Imode. According to history, Arandun was founded in 1931. The people of Arandun were from Omu Aran. It is the sole responsibility of Imoji to fill the Ejemu Alaran chieftaincy title. Three Ejemu Alarans have reigned since Arandun was founded they are: Idowu Ebijare Ole, Dada Jolayemi (Ewedunmoye) and the 3rd is Jimoh Oyebanji. In 1971, the present Alaran – 2nd Defendant, attempted to install one Esarun Adeoti from Imode compound who is not related to Moji compound as Ejemu Alaran. The appointment is a misnornce. (sic)

Imoji people petitioned the Alaran and the then sole Administrator Ahmed Adaji. An enquiry was then set up to look into the tussle and the result was that it was wrong of Alaran based on history and facts, to have appointed the said Esarun Adeoti. The Sole Administrator then advised Alaran to install Jimoh Oyebanji as the rightful Ejemu Alaran of Arandun. The Alaran complied with the directive. Ejemu Jimoh Oyebanji is from Imoji family. The two other previous Ejemu Alaran were bonafide sons of Imoji. Ejemu Alaran chieftaincy is rotated only within Imoji family”.

And in cross-examination he added: –

“According to history when Arandun known as Aran were moving to Arandun, it was agreed that each family was carrying to Arandun, the chieftaincy title which was exclusive to that family and that has not changed and that agreement has been complied with ever since. It is not true that my family attended any meeting to the effect that Ejemu title would be rotated between our family and any other family. It is not true that I rushed to the court because we knew that our petition to the Local Government would not be successful”.

The evidence of P.W’s 1, 2 and 3 of the appellants have proved conclusively that: –

“1. The appellants belonged to the Imoji family compound and the respondents belonged to the Imode family compound.

The Imoji compound have since 1931 – 1994 occupied the chieftaincy title of Ejemu Alaran of Arandun and the Imode compound was entitled to the Edemo chieftaincy

Arandun was founded in 1931.

Ejemu chieftaincy title has never rotated between Ejemu compound and any compound in Arandun.

All the three past Ejemus were from Imoji compound in Arandun.

An attempt by the Alaran to appoint one Esarun Adeoti from Imode compound was successfully resisted by Imoji compound and reversed by the then Sole Administrator.

The last installed Ejemu Alaran Jimoh Oyebanji died in August 1994′.

There is no doubt that most of the evidence from which the above are proved was based on direct evidence. It is pertinent to observe that of the 3 witnesses of the appellants only P. W. 2 is 51 years of age in 1995 when he testified in the trial court; the others, PW’s 1 and 3, were 63 and 65 years of age respectively at the material time. The learned trial judge did not anywhere in her judgment disbelieve their evidence. I shall consider this in more detail later.

The respondents as defendants pleaded in paragraphs 1, 5, 10, 13, 14 and 17 of their amended statement of Defence thus: –

“1. The defendants admit paragraphs 1, 10, 16, 18, 19, 25, 28 and 29 of the statement of claim.

Contrary to the averment in paragraph 4 of the statement of claim, Arandun was not established in or about 1931. Arandun existed before 1931 and before moving to Omu to form together with Aran Orin what became Omu-Aran. They all moved to Ajo and back 16 Omu-Aran before Aran Orin moved its present site and Arandun moved to its present site. The identity of each component of Arandun, Aran Orin, Omu was distinct and the remnants of those left behind at Omu Aran are still distinct and hold chieftaincy title peculiar to the Arans. Arandun was formerly called Aran Odun and was named after Odun river at the site.

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The defendants aver that paragraphs 9, 10 and 11 of the statement of claim are false when they state that the 2nd defendant attempted to install a usurper from Imode compound in 1971 or at any other time.

Before moving back to present Arandun Imode compound had produced many Ejemus both at Arandun and Omu-Aran. This will be demonstrated by evidence in court.

It is true that the last 3 immediate Ejemus came from Imoji as averred in paragraph 8 of statement of claim but not as of right and evidence will be led to show the circumstances which made that possible. The conclusion reached in 1973 by the Sole Administrator Igbomina/Ekiti and Arandun people was that after Oyebanji Jimoh from Imoji it should be the turn of Imode the minute of the meeting shall be tendered at the hearing.

With respect to paragraph 20 of the statement of claim the defendants aver that the 1st defendant being a descendant of an Ejemu from Imode is qualified and has been duly accepted and announced by the Alaran-in-council as the successor to the late Ejemu Oyebanji Jimoh. The defendants shall tender document of the Alaran-in-council and or king makers to this effect”.

They also called 3 witnesses and tendered a document exhibit D1, at the trial. The evidence of DW1 in part reads: –

“I am aware that in 1973, there was a case which involved a chieftaincy title involving Ejeniu. On 21st August 1973, the Sole Administrator in person of Mallam A. Yusuf invited the kingmakers of Arandun Community over the Chieftaincy tussle with a view to settling the case amicably between the two displeased parties. During the time two compounds from Arandun were invited. These are Imoji and Imode compound. I was also at the meeting. I was the Council Secretary who took down the minutes at that meeting. I have the minutes of the meeting here with me.”

In cross examination he said: –

“At the meeting we were told that both Imoji and Imode were producing Ejemu in rotation at Arandun……….Moji compound succeeded to the throne three times at the expense of Imode at Arandun.”

DW.2 also testified for the respondents and in his cross examination had this to say: –

“The Ejemu at Aran Odun was from Mode compound. After Akehinlere was Otundebomoye. Idowu Ebijareole was not the 1st Ejemu at Arandun instead he was Ejemu at Amu Aran who was transferred to Arandun with that title. I do not know when we went to settle at Arandun. After Ebijareole his son Dada became Ejemu because his father was too old hence it was Pleaded that his son Dada should be allowed to succeed him…….Since we settled at Arandun, the three Ejemus that reigned at Arandun are Idowu Ebijareole, Dada Jolayemi and Oyebanji Jimoh Inawole.”

(Underlining mine)

DW.3 in his examination in Chief had this to say:-

“The title of Ejemu did not come into being for the first time at the present Arandun after moving from Omu-Aran. Moji compound are entitled to the chieftaincy title of Ejemu. When we were at Omu Aran, three families were entitled to the title i.e. Moji, Mode and Adinkun compounds……….”.

In his cross examination, he added: –

“I know Idowu Ebijareole. I also know Dada Jolayemi Ewedunoye. I know Oyebanji Jimoh Inawole. Since we got to Arandun. These are the three people who had been Ejemus. The three of them are from Imoji Compound.”

(Underlining mine)

I have taken the trouble to set out the material evidence supporting the pleadings of the parties at the trial. Pleadings are the body and soul of any case in a skeleton form and are built up and solidified by the evidence in support thereof. They are never regarded as evidence by itself and if not followed by any supporting evidence, they are deemed abandoned. See Ajao V. Alao (1986) 5 NWLR (pt. 45) 802; Ebueku V. Ani (1988) 2 NWLR (pt. 75) 128. A party is bound by his pleadings and cannot give evidence outside what was pleaded. If he does, it goes to no issue and is irrelevant. See Aguocha V. Aguocha (1986) 4 NWLR (p1. 37) 566; Owoade V. Onitola (1988) 2 NWLR (pt. 77) 413; Adekeye V. Akin-Olugbade (1987) 3 NWLR (pt. 60) 214. If a party’s pleadings are relevant to his claim in court and he produces evidence in support of the pleadings, the court is bound to consider and decide his claim on the evidence. See Overseas Construction Ltd V. Creek Enterprises Ltd (1985) 3 NWLR (pt. 13) 407 at 414; African Continental Seaways Ltd V. Nigerian

Dredging Roads & General Works (1977) 5 SC 235 at 250; H.I.O. Adeniji V. T. A. Adeniji (1972) 4 SC 10 at 17.

Having said this, let me stop here to consider the appellants’ issues. I shall take issues 1 and 2 together. To my humble understanding, the two issues are asking which evidence as narrated by the parties at the trial should be believed by the lower courts in determining which family is entitled to produce the Ejemu Alaran of Arandun. I have earlier in this judgment set out the summary of the material evidence given by the parties’ witnesses in support of their respective pleadings. None of the witnesses was successfully challenged or destroyed in cross-examination at the trial and the learned trial judge, in her judgment did not say that she disbelieved any witness who testified before her. All she said was that she preferred the evidence of the defendants/respondents to that of the plaintiffs/appellants.

Let me now recall briefly the evidence of the parties at the trial. The 3 witnesses of the appellants were ad idem in their evidence that –

(a) the people of Arandun were from Omu Aran.

(b) Arandun was founded in 1931;

(c) Imoji compound or family have reigned since Arandun was founded in 1931.

(d) the three Ejemu Alarans who reigned in succession from 1931 are: Idowu Ebijareole, Dada Jolayemi (Ewedunmoye) and Jimoh Oyebanji, all from Imoji compound.

(e) The respondents are from Imode compound or family.

(f) Effort to install one Esohun Adeoti from Imode compound was successfully resisted in 1972 and he was replaced by Jimoh Oyebanji from Imoji compound.

The 3 witnesses of the respondents gave divergent stones but all agreed that –

(i) Imoji compound succeeded to the throne of Ejemu Alaran three times at Arandun;

(ii) the respondents are from Imode compound or family of Arandun;

(iii) the people of Arandun originally moved from Omu Aran to settle at Arandun;

Items (i) – (iii) are in full agreement with items (a) (c) – (f) in the summary of evidence of the appellant’s witnesses. But DW.1 in his testimony said that at the meeting he attended in 1972, “we were told that both Imoji and Imode were producing Ejemu in rotation at Arandun”. This is ordinary hearsay as he was not talking from personal knowledge.

The respondents also pleaded that Arandun was not established in or about 1931, and that it existed before 1931. But at the trial, they did not produce any specific evidence to prove it. Their witnesses only testified that the Arans settled at Odun, Omu Aran and Ajo and they each had their head chiefs, before settling in Arandun. They did not call any evidence to prove when Arandun was established or settled by the Arans in disagreement with what the appellants pleaded and proved by evidence. In the circumstances, it is my respectful view that the Court of Appeal was wrong when it held –

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“I am of the considered opinion that the learned trial judge was very right in considering the pre-1931 history of Arandun people so as to arrive at a just resolution of the issues in controversy between the parties”.

There was no scintilla or iota of evidence to support the view that Arandun was established or settled before 1931, and so the question of resolving a controversy did not arise. The evidence of the appellants as per pleadings that Arandun was established in 1931 was not challenged at all.

It is also very clear from the evidence of the appellant’s witnesses elicited above, that members of their family did reign in Arandun as Ejemu Alaran since 1931 unchallenged. I therefore have no hesitation in deciding issues 1 and 2 against the respondents and in favour of the appellants.

Issue 3, questions whether the lower courts have given proper consideration to the contents of Exhibit D. or D1. Exhibit D1 is the minutes of the meeting in 1973 between the Sole Administrator Igbomina/Ekiti Division M. A. Yusuf and Arandun people to settle the dispute which arose after the installation of one Esarun Adeoti from Imode compound as Ejemu Alarun of Arandun. At the trial, the appellants maintained that they were not bound by whatever was decided at the meeting because they were neither present there nor represented by any body. None of their witnesses attended the meeting and no member of the Imoji family attended the meeting or proved to be present there. It is important for the respondents to prove that Exhibit D1 is binding on the appellants because it was alleged that the meeting agreed that the stool of Ejemu Alarun of Arandun should from then be taken in rotation between the Imoji and the Imode family compounds. If they are to be bound by this, it must be shown that either the members of the Imoji family including the appellants attended the meeting where the resolution was reached or the family was formally notified of this resolution. There was no evidence to this effect, and nowhere can it be inferred. In fact the reaction of the appellants after the death of Jimoh Oyebanji in 1994 and the attempted installation of the respondent as Ejemu, leading to the petition per Exhibit 1, seemed to confirm that the resolution was not communicated to the appellants, their family or even the principal members thereof. I have also carefully studied Exhibit Dl and find that no where in it was any member of Imoji family compound, even among the kingmakers mentioned as being present or represented at the meeting. And although DW. 1 in his testimony said that the two compounds of Imoji and Imode were invited to the meeting nothing to show that the former actually attended the meeting. In fact PW 2 a member of Imoji family stated clearly in his evidence in cross-examination that:-

“It is not true that my family attended any meeting to the effect that Ejemu title would be rotated between our family and any other family”.

Exhibit D1 (would) appeared to be a record of discussion only held between the Sole Administrator and the community of Arandun excluding the appellants and the decisions or resolutions reached there were not communicated to those affected therewith i.e. the Imoji family members, who were not shown to be present at the meeting. This is clearly shown by the title of Exhibit D1 which reads: –

“Notes on the discussion held on Tuesday 21st August, 1973, between the Sole Administrator (Igbomina/Ekiti) and the Community of Arandun in Town Hall Omu-Aran on the disputed title of Ejemu of Arandun”.

In the circumstances, it is my respectful view that no weight should be attached to Exhibit D1 as was done by the trial court and the Court of Appeal.

The learned trial judge in her judgment merely said:

“I do not believe that the Plaintiffs side was not represented at the meeting”.

And later added:

“I hold that both parties agreed on contents of Exhibit D1”.

As I stated earlier there was no evidence to show that any member of the Imoji family compound was present or represented at the meeting, and the belief or disbelief of the learned trial judge does not assist in the circumstances. See Bozin V. The State (1985) 2 NWLR (pt. 8) 465. There was also no evidence, even in cross-examination, or any suggestion to the effect that both parties agreed on the contents of Exhibit D1.

The Court of Appeal also considering the effect of Exhibit D1 said: –

“That, agreement or understanding as evidenced in Exhibit D1 is therefore very important in this case particularly as it offers a clear link between pre-1931 and post 1931 Ejemu Alaran stool. It confirms the contention by the respondents that they had been producing Ejemu – Alaran prior to 1931 jointly with the appellants”.

With due respect to the Court of Appeal, the above quoted statements are only extracted or found in the document Exhibit D1, which I explained earlier to be weightless in this case, as the respondents have failed to link it with evidence of any witness or to prove that the appellants or any member of their family compound attended that meeting as evidenced in Exhibit D1. The Court of Appeal was therefore wrong to treat Exhibit D1 as “very important in this case” and for the same reason to affirm the decision of the trial court. From all what I have said in this issue I find that Exhibit D1 was not properly considered by the lower courts and I resolve it in favour of the appellants.

It is pertinent to observe that since the establishment of Arandun in 1931 up till 1994, when the last Ejemu died a period of 63 years, the Ejemu who ruled Arandun were only chosen from the Imoje family compound. And when attempt was made to change this to the Imode family, there was a big disturbance which led to the interference of the Sole Administrator of the area and finally the dethroning of the person chosen from the Imode family. This period of 63 years to me, has clearly shown that the people of Arandun community have fully established and accepted the tradition of appointing the Ejemu for themselves and any attempt to change it will further disturb the peace there. This is in accordance with the evidence adduced by the appellants at the trial on their pleadings. The respondents have not established anything to the contrary sufficient to tilt the scale of justice in their favour.

Having resolved all the appellants three issues in their favour, I find that there is merit in this appeal. I accordingly allow it and set aside the decision of the Court of Appeal which affirmed that of the trial court. I am not unaware of the well settled principle of law that this court does not interfere with he concurrent findings of facts of two lower courts as in this case except where special circumstances are shown.


SC. 106/2000

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