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Home » Nigerian Cases » Supreme Court » Lasisi Oyewunmi Aroyewun Ors Vs Oba Yesufu Adeola Adediran (2004) LLJR-SC

Lasisi Oyewunmi Aroyewun Ors Vs Oba Yesufu Adeola Adediran (2004) LLJR-SC

Lasisi Oyewunmi Aroyewun Ors Vs Oba Yesufu Adeola Adediran (2004)

LAWGLOBAL HUB Lead Judgment Report

KATSINA-ALU, JSC

This appeal is from a judgment of the Court of Appeal, Ibadan delivered on 25 June 1990 whereby that Court dismissed the appeal of the defendants.

By a statement of claim dated 14 March 1986, the plaintiff claimed against the defendant four reliefs, to wit:

(i) Declaration that the plaintiff is the only recognized Chief or Oba Ajoriwin of Irawo in Ifedapo Local Government Area of Oyo State of Nigeria.

(ii) Declaration that there is only one Irawo and no Irawo-Ile of Irawo-Owode in Ifedapo Local Government Area of Oyo State of Nigeria.

(iii) Perpetual injunction restraining the 1st defendant from parading himself in any form as a recognized Chief or Baale within Irawo Community.

(iv)Injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, privies and or supporters from illegally naming and using part of Irawo as Irawo Owode.

However, in the course of the trial the plaintiff withdrew the reliefs claimed in paragraphs (ii) and (iv) above. The only live claims before the trial court were (i) and (iii).

The brief facts of this case are these. Prior to 1952 the plaintiff and the 1st defendant contested for the Obaship of Irawo otherwise known as the Ajoriwin of Irawo a town near Oyo in the Oyo State of Nigeria. The plaintiff triumphed and was duly installed as the Ajoriwin of Irawo. The 1st defendant did not challenge his defeat in any of the ways open to him under the law. In protest however the 1st defendant and his supporters moved from Irawo to a place about 2 miles away to settle. The defendants christened this settlement “Irawo-Owode.”

As I have already indicated the defendants lost both in the trial court and the Court of Appeal. The defendants have now further appealed to this court.

In their brief of argument the defendants raised four issues for our determination. These read as follows:

Whether the Court of Appeal was right in view of the pleadings of the parties, especially the respondents, and their evidence before the trial High Court, when it held that Irawo means Irawo Owode plus Irawo Ile when this was not the case canvassed by the parties.

Whether the Court of Appeal was right to have defined Irawo to mean Owode and Irawo Ile when the trial High Court had earlier found that the two places were separate and when there has been no appeal on the said finding.

Whether the dispute in this proceeding is a chieftaincy dispute and if so, whether the High Court or any court had jurisdiction at any time prior to the 1979 Constitution to entertain a dispute involving chieftaincy, the cause of action having arisen in 1952 and whether or not the provisions of the 1963 Constitution prevail.

Whether an order of injunction can be rightly ordered when a legal right thereto has not been established.

For the plaintiff, two issues were set down for determination by us in this appeal. They read as follow:

Whether in all the circumstances of this case the Court of Appeal was right in making the order for declaration as made and in granting the order of injunction.

See also  Emma Amanchukwu V. The Federal Republic Of Nigeria (2009) LLJR-SC

Whether the Court of Appeal was right in holding that the trial Court has jurisdiction in the matter and that the dispute was not a chieftaincy dispute within the ouster clause of the Chief Law.

The two issues raised by the plaintiff encompass the four formulated by the defendants. For this reason, I adopt the plaintiff’s issues for purpose of determining this appeal.

As I have earlier indicated, the course of the trial, the plaintiff withdrew reliefs (ii) and (iv) leaving only reliefs (i) and (iii) which for ease of reference I read them again.

“(i) Declaration that the plaintiff is the only recognized Chief or Oba Ajoriwin of Irawo in Irawo in Ifedapo Local Government area of Oyo State of Nigeria.

(ii) Perpetual Injunction restraining the 1st defendant from parading himself in any form as a recognized Chief or Baale within Irawo Community.”

I shall consider the issues raised in this appeal in the light of claims (i) and (ii) reproduced above.

ISSUE No. 1. The plaintiff sought a declaration that he is the only recognized chief in Irawo or Oba Ajoriwin of Irawo in Irawo in Ifedapo Local Government Area. The Defendants Appellants had contended in their brief of argument that the Court of trial had found as a fact that there were Irawo-Ile and Irawo-Owode in line with their statement of Defence. It was therefore the submission of the Defendants that the claim of the plaintiff that there was only one Irawo was not established. I must point out here that though the learned judge had found as a fact that there were two Irawos-Irawo-Ile and Irawo-Owode, the learned trial Judge however held that the plaintiff is the only recognized Chief in Irawo as a whole. In his own words:

“In sum, the plaintiff succeeds in part.

(i) declaration is granted that the plaintiff is the only recognized Chief or Oba Ajoriwin of Irawo, be it known as Irawo as Irawo-Ile and Irawo-Owode in Ifedapo Local Government Area of Oyo State of Nigeria.”

The Court of Appeal affirmed the above decision of the trial judge. In the course of its judgment the Court of Appeal per Akpabio JCA said:

“…………… I hold the view that Ira-Owode plus Irawo-Ile together make up what is known as Irawo simpliciter, and the plaintiff/respondent as the Ajowirin of Irawo is the common Oba for both districts, i.e. Irawo-Owode and Irawo-Ile.”

That court then proceeded to make the following declaration:

“It is therefore hereby declared that the plaintiff respondent is the only recognized Chief or Oba Ajowirin of Irawo in Ifedapo Local Government Area of Oyo State of Nigeria.”

The above declaration is amply supported by the evidence presented before the trial court. Let me explain. The appellants at p.2 of their brief of argument stated as follows:

“Up till 1952, there used to be a town known simpliciter as Irawo. The ruler was known as Ajoriwin of Irawo. Around that period, there was a dispute between the 1st Appellant and the 1st Respondent on the ascension to the throne of Ajowirin of Irawo. In the ultimate the 1st Respondent was installed to the throne.

See also  B. O. Benson Vs Lawrence Otubor (1975) LLJR-SC

The 1st Appellant and his supports in protest moved from Irawo to a place about 2 miles away to settle. The new place was called ‘Irawo Owode’ by them. This situation has remained so since 1952.”

In the course of the trial the 5th Defendant/Appellant Amusa Adesisi testified as D.W. 1. He testified in part thus:

“We used to call the whole place then Irawo. The name Irawo-Ile came about when the first defendant left the town for Irawo-Owode.”

Under cross-examination this witness said:

“The NTC was there before I was born. I know that the Ajoriwin leased the land to NTC on behalf of the entire Irawo Community. The only secondary school we have is known as Comprehensive High School, Irawo, not Irawo-Ile or Irawo-Owode. Our maternity Centre is Irawo Maternity Centre. Our Post Office is known as Irawo Postal Agency. Our Customary Court is Irawo Customary Court……………

I know that the Ajowirin is the Oba of whole Irawo not for Irawo-Ile alone, it includes Irawo-Owode.” (Underlining for emphasis).

DW 3, Lawani Akande Aroweyun is the 1st defendant/Appellant in this court. In this evidence he said inter alia:

“Oba Aderinola was the Oba Irawo some 48 years ago ……….. There was never two Irawos but one ……”

Under cross-examination the 1st Appellant testified thus:

“The former Ajoriwin leased the land at Owode to the N.T.C. on behalf of himself and the entire Irawo Community. The NTC is still there paying rents to the Ajoriwin now on the throne.”

From the pieces of evidence called by the Appellants themselves which I have highlighted above, one crucial fact has been established. It is this. That the area they now call Irawo-Owode has always been within the jurisdiction of Oba Ajowirin. It is important not to lose sight of the fact that it was when in 1952, the 1st Appellant lost the throne to the Respondent that he moved a little distance away from Irawo town with his supporters to found Irawo-Owode an area within the jurisdiction of the Ajowirin. This fact, indeed, is not in dispute. Put in another way, the 1st Respondent was from the outset and still is the only recognized Chief of Irawo in Ifedapo Local Government Area of Oyo State. The complaint of the Appellants in this regard is clearly without merit.

ISSUE No. 2. The second issue is whether the Court of Appeal was right in holding that the trial court has jurisdiction in the matter and that the dispute was not a chieftaincy dispute. In other words there is a concurrent finding of fact that the claim herein is not a chieftaincy claim. The defendants appellants, at page 6 of their brief of argument state as follows:

See also  Leo O. C. Obijuru V. I. M. Ozims (1985) LLJR-SC

“A look at the claims of the Plaintiff/Respondent as endorsed on the fact of both the Writ of Summons and Statement of Claim shows that the Plaintiff in the main had (4) four legs of claim two of which deals (sic) mainly with chieftaincy matters:

(1) Declaration that the Plaintiffs is the only recognized Chief or Oba Ajowirin of Irawo in Irawo in Ifedapo (sic) Local Government of Oyo State of Nigeria.

(2) …………………….…………..

(3) Perpetual Injunction restraining the 1st Defendant from parading himself in any form as a recognized Chief or Baale within Irawo Community.

(4) …..…………………………….

I think there is a misconception of the Plaintiff’s claim. Section 24 of the Chiefs Law Cap. 19 Vol. 1 Laws of Western Nigeria 1959 defines “chieftaincy question” as “any question relating to the selection, appointment, installation, deposition, suspension or abdication of a chief.” A casual reading of the claim of the plaintiff would reveal that plaintiff was not challenging the selection, appointment and installation of the 1st defendant. This is because the plaintiff contested with the 1st defendant for the throne of Ajowirin of Irawo in 1952. The plaintiff won and was duly installed. He is still on the throne.

In the second place, the plaintiffs suit is not against his deposition or suspension. As I indicated above, the plaintiff is the Ajowirin of Irawo. He has neither been deposed nor suspended. It can therefore be seen clearly that the plaintiffs claim in the present action is not a chieftaincy dispute.

Now, this is what I think the plaintiffs claim is all about. What the plaintiff sought to do in this action was to abate the nuisance created by the rebellion of the 1st Defendant.

As I have already indicated there is a concurrent finding by the two lower courts that the claims of the plaintiff was not a chieftaincy claim. It is now settled practice that the Supreme Court will not interfere with concurrent findings of the lower courts unless they are not justified by the evidence and have thereby occasioned a miscarriage of justice. The appellants have not persuaded me to hold a contrary view. See Akeredolu V. Akinremi (1989) 3 NWLR (Pt. 108) 164, Osho V. Foreing Finance Corporation (1991) 4 NWLR (Pt.184) 15.

In the result this appeal fails. I dismiss it and affirm the decisions of the High Court and the Court of Appeal. The Respondent is entitled to costs of N10,000.00 against the Appellants.


SC. 206/1999

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