Mallam Muhamadu Abubakar & Ors v. Baba Nana (1974)
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B. A. COKER, J.S.C.
This appeal resolves itself on the facts of the case. The issue always was and is whether the property of the appellant’s father was rightly sold to the respondent’s father by the Native Court, the records of which were produced in evidence as Exhibits H and I. The Kogi Divisional Area Court held that the appellant or his relations had validly redeemed the pledge by which they pledged their father’s house to one Captain Atete, the ancestor of the respondent, and that the purported sale of the same property to Captain Atete was irregular.
The present respondent then appealed to the Upper Area Court which affmned the findings of fact of the Kogi Divisional Area Court and concluded that the court records, by virtue of which the present respondent claimed that the property was sold to his father, Captain Atete, were not just fabricated by the trial court but were indeed forgeries.
The present appellant thereafter appealed to this Court and the complaint is that the High Court upon appeal should not have disturbed the findings of the lower court and also that the High Court did not correctly interprete the document referred to as Exhibit D in the proceedings. The respondent was not represented by counsel but he contends that the High Court was right in rejecting the case of the present appellant as his own father clearly bought the property.
We readily observe that the High Court had no grounds for reversing the findings of fact of the trial court, that the document Exhibit D was a valid pledge of the house of the appellant’s father to the ancestor of the present respondent. The court’s records, Exhibits H and I, show that although the sale was purported to be made to one Gana Imo, the Court Receipt, Exhibit H, was issued to Captain Atete and in his name. The inference is therefore inescapable that Captain Atete at this point of time had contrived to buy and indeed had bought the property which was pledged to him. Such a transaction amongst natives, unless there be evidence to contradict it, retains the perpetual redeemability of the property and it is obvious that the High Court did not advert to this feature of native transaction. Besides this, however, we think it was amply demonstrated by the appellant in the court of trial that the records of the court, Exhibit 1, were to say the least “irregular” and that the Kogi Divisional Area Court had rightly ascribed to that document its appropriate probative value. The High Court on appeal showed no reasons why it decided to disagree with the court of trial on these obvious issues of facts and we are unable to support the proposition of the High Court that even if the records, Exhibit 1, were obtained by fraud there was no reasons to suppose that the judge or the scribe were parties to the fraud.
The fact is that the sale of the property to the respondent’s father was based by the present respondent on Exhibit I and if that is found to be irregular in the way it was so found here, then the present respondent had just failed to establish the sale to his own father of what was manifestly only pledged to him.
On account of all this, we conclude that the High Court wrongly reversed the findings of the Kogi Divisional Area Court. Those findings were abundantly supported by the evidence which the court accepted and the High Court had no materials before it to justify its reversal of that judgement.
The appeal succeeds and it is allowed. We set aside the judgement of the High Court, Borin, in appeal No. KWS/31A/1970. We assume there was no order for costs and restore the judgement in that Suit of the Kogi Divisional Area Court dated the 1 st December, 1969. This shall be the judgement of the Court. We direct also that the present respondent shall pay to the appellant the costs of this appeal flixd in this Court at N160 and in the High Court at N80.