The Attorney-general Of Ekiti State V Prince Michael Daramola (2003)
LAWGLOBAL HUB Lead Judgment Report
E. OGUNDARE, JSC
This appeal concerns the chieftaincy of Ajero in Ijero Ekiti of Ekiti State. Following the demise of Oba Eyeowa II the Ajero of Ijero Ekiti in October 1990 there arose a vacancy in the chieftaincy which according to the chieftaincy declaration relating to the title, was to be filled by the Arojojoye Ruling House. In February 1991 the Secretary for the Ijero Local Government called on the Ruling House to produce a candidate or candidates for the consideration by the kingmakers for appointment as the Ajero. Prince Ola Adegbola (2nd Defendant) who was head of the Arojojoye ruling House was to summon a meeting of the Ruling House to consider the person or persons to be forwarded to the kingmakers for consideration for appointment. According to the plaintiffs, Prince Adegbola did not summon any meeting but rather forwarded the name of Prince Joseph Adebayo Adewole (3rd Defendant) as a sole candidate nominated by the ruling house for consideration by the kingmakers.
The kingmakers rejected the nomination of Prince Adewole and called on the ruling house to forward more names. It would appear that there was no agreement as between the ruling house and the kingmakers as to the person or persons nominated. In consequence,
Ondo State Government (Ekiti State was in Ondo State at the time) appointed six warrant chiefs in place of the traditional kingmakers to appoint a new Ajero. On this development, the plaintiffs took out an action suit no. HCJ/24/91 against the Defendants in this action. The warrant chiefs met, considered the nomination of Prince Adewole and appointed him the Ajero, an appointment which was approved by the Ondo State Government. Before this appointment, the plaintiffs had in suit No. HCJ/24/91 obtained an interlocutory injunction restraining the Governor from appointing warrant kingmakers. Following the appointment the plaintiffs took out the present action claiming, as per paragraph 84 of their further amended statement of claim –
“(a) a declaration that the Arojojoye Ruling House to the Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti Chieftaincy consists of seven stocks: Odogun, Odo-Idara, (Aminmin) Akere, Kumuyi, Akata, Adewa Aderuku and Akutupu;
(b) a declaration that the plaintiffs are authentic members of the Akata Stock of the said Arojojoye Ruling House;
(c) a declaration that the selection and presentation of third defendant by second defendant to the kingmakers and/or third, fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh defendants (as Warrant Chiefs) is against the history, native law and custom of Ijero-Ekiti and hence wrongful, illegal, unconstitutional, null and void and of no effect whatsoever;
(d) a declaration that the purported appointment by the government of first defendant of fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh defendants as Warrant Chiefs to appoint a new Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti is illegal, wrongful, against the native law and custom and tradition of Ijero Ekiti, unconstitutional null, void and of no effect whatsoever;
(e) a declaration that the purported appointment of third defendant as the new Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti by fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh defendants is illegal, wrongful against the native law, custom and tradition of Ijero-Ekiti, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever;
(f) a declaration that the purported approval of the appointment of third defendant as Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti by the government of first defendant is wrongful, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever;
(g) an order nullifying the aforesaid appointment, the approval of appointment and installation of the third defendant as the Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti as same is against the history, native law and custom of Ijero-Ekiti and hence wrongful, illegal, null, void, unconstitutional and of no effect whatsoever;
(h) an order restraining third defendant from parading, calling, and styling himself as the Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti and from enjoying any salary, remuneration or perquisites appertaining to the title;
(i) an order restraining the government of first defendant from recognizing the third defendant as the Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti in any manner whatsoever;
(j) a declaration that the appointment by the kingmakers of second plaintiff as the new Ajero on 9th May, 1991 is valid while the order of the government of first defendant nullifying same is wrongful, illegal, unconstitutional, null, void and of no effect whatsoever;
(k) an order on the government of first defendant to consider the said appointment with a view to approving of same.”
Pleadings having been completed, the case proceeded to trial on the plaintiffs’ further amended statement of claim, their amended reply, the further amended statement of defence of the 2nd and 3rd defendants and the amended statement of defence of the 1st, 4th – 7th defendants.
The learned trial Judge after a painstaking review and evaluation of the evidence adduced before him found the claims of the plaintiffs not proved and dismissed the same in-to-to. He adjudged as follows:
“On the whole on this issue I hold that the Plaintiffs have not satisfied me that they are entitled to the declaration that there are seven stocks in Arojojoye ruling house or that they are authentic members of the Arojojoye ruling house and hence I hold that they have no locus standi to challenge the appointment and installation of the 3rd defendant and the suit is hereby accordingly dismissed in its entirety.”
The plaintiffs being dissatisfied with this judgment appealed to the Court of Appeal which latter Court allowed the appeal, set aside the judgment of the trial High Court and adjudged as hereunder:
“In conclusion, I am of the view that this appeal be allowed and the judgment of the trial court in Suit No. HCJ/35/91 delivered by Hon. Justice S. K. Ajayi on 31st March, 1995 be and is hereby set aside. In its place there shall be judgment for the appellants in the following terms:
That the appellants are authentic members of the Akata stock of Arojojoye Ruling House.
That the selection and presentation of third respondent by second respondent to the warrant chiefs is null and void as no members of Akata stock participated in the nomination exercise as required by custom and the law.
That the purported appointment of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th respondents as warrant chiefs by the Government of Ondo State represented by the 1st Respondent contrary to an Order of Court is null and void.
That the subsequent purported appointment of 3rd Respondent as Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti by the Government of Ondo State represented by 1st Respondent is illegal, wrongful, null and void.
That the purported approval of the appointment of the 3rd Respondent as Ajero of Ijero Ekiti by the Government of Ondo State represented by 1st Respondent is wrongful, illegal, null and void.
It is hereby ordered that the aforesaid appointment, approval of appointment and installation of the 3rd Respondent as the Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti be and are hereby nullified.
The 3rd Respondent is hereby restrained from parading, calling and styling himself as the Ajero of Ijero-Ekiti and from enjoying and salary, remuneration or perquisites appertaining to that title.
It is further ordered that reliefs Nos. (a), (i), (j) and (k) on the Further Amended Statement of Claim at pages 221 and 222 of the record of proceedings be and are hereby refused.
There shall be costs in favour of the appellants against the Respondents which I fix at N5,000.00.”
It is against this judgment that the 2nd and 3rd defendants have now appealed to this Court upon 13 grounds of appeal. The 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th defendants also appealed against the said judgment upon 9 grounds of appeal. The plaintiffs being also dissatisfied with some aspects of the judgment of the Court of Appeal appealed to this Court upon 3 grounds of appeal.
Pursuant to the Rules of this Court the parties filed and exchanged their respective briefs of arguments in respect of the appeals. At the oral hearing of the appeal, on application made to the Court, we made an order substituting Attorney-General of Ekiti State for Attorney-General of Ondo State as 1st Defendant/Appellant in the appeal. Learned counsel for the parties proferred oral submissions in elucidation of the points raised in their respective briefs.
Three issues have been formulated as calling for determination in the main appeal of the 2nd and 3rd defendants. These are:
“(i) Having refused the main reliefs of the plaintiffs relating to the number of stocks making up the Arojojoye Ruling House and as adumbrated under reliefs (a), (i), (j), (k) and (l) of the further amended statement of claim, whether or not the lower court was still not in error by allowing the appeal before it and declaring the appointment of the 3rd Appellant as wrongful, null and void – grounds 1, 5 and 10.
(ii)Considering the state of the law, pleadings and oral evidence adduced, whether or not the lower court was justified or possessed the jurisdiction to make the orders contained in the last paragraph of its judgment – Grounds 2, 3, 4 and 12.
(iii)Considering the totality of the evidence adduced before the trial High Court and the painstaking way and manner the said trial High Court reviewed the said evidence and arrived at its judgment, whether or not the lower court was not in grave error by disturbing or setting aside the said judgment – Grounds 6, 7, 8, 9 and 11.”
In respect of the appeal of the 1st, 4th – 7th Defendants, the following 3 issues are also formulated.
“(i) Whether a Court can award a relief not claimed by a party and whether a party is expected to comply with a Court order he has no notice or is aware of (Grounds 3 & 4).
(ii) Whether the lower court was right in declaring null and void and setting aside the appointment of 3rd Defendant/Appellant as Ajero of Ijero Ekiti in the circumstances of this case (Grounds 1, 2, 5, 6, and 10).
(iii) Whether the lower court was right in declaring null and void the appointment of 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th defendants/appellants as warrant Chiefs and also reversing the findings and decision of the trial Court in this case (Grounds 7, 8 and 9).and in respect of the cross-appeal of the Plaintiffs the following 2 issues have been raised:
“A. Whether or not the lower Court was, in view of the evidence led, right in holding that cross-appellants failed to prove that the Arojojoye Ruling House comprises, seven stocks, which is their claim (a).
Whether or not the lower Court was right in refusing to grant cross-appellants’ claim (i).”
I shall now consider the issues raised before us.
Marrying the issues as formulated by the two sets of Defendants I would say that the issues calling for determination in this appeal are:
(1) Having refused the main reliefs of the Plaintiffs relating to the number of stocks making up the Arojojoye Ruling House and as adumbrated under reliefs (a), (i), (j), (k) and (l) of the further amended statement of claim, whether or not the lower court was still not in error by allowing the appeal before it and declaring the appointment of the 3rd appellant as wrongful, null and void;
(2) Considering the state of the law, pleadings and oral evidence adduced, whether or not the lower court was justified or possessed the jurisdiction to make the orders contained in the last paragraph of its judgment;
(3) Considering the totality of the evidence adduced before the trial High Court and the painstaking way and manner the said trial High Court reviewed the said evidence and arrived at its judgment, whether or not the lower court was not in grave error by disturbing or setting aside the said judgment; and
(4) Whether a Court can award a relief not claimed by a party and whether a party is expected to comply with a Court order he has no notice or is aware of.
The issues raised by the Plaintiffs in their cross-appeal are subsumed in the above issues.
I shall now proceed to consider the four issues above, taking Issues 1 and 3 together.
Issues 1 and 3
(1) Having refused the main reliefs of the plaintiffs relating to the number of stocks making up the Arojojoye Ruling House and as adumbrated under reliefs (a), (i), (j), (k) and (l) of the further amended statement of claim, whether or not the lower court was still not in error by allowing the appeal before it and declaring the appointment of the 3rd appellant as wrongful, null and void.
(3) Considering the totality of the evidence adduced before the trial High Court and the painstaking way and manner the aid trial High Court reviewed the said evidence and arrived at its judgment, whether or not the lower court was not in grave error by disturbing or setting aside the said judgment.
I have earlier in this judgment set out the reliefs claimed by the Plaintiffs at the trial. It is apparent on the face of the reliefs that Plaintiffs’ case is based essentially on (a) that there are seven stocks (or branches) constituting the Arojojoye ruling house of which Akata is one and that Plaintiffs are members of that stock. Their complaint is that the Akata stock was not invited to a meeting of the ruling house at which the 3rd Defendant was nominated. It is equally their complaint that the 2nd Plaintiff was not considered for nomination because he belongs to the Akata family which the Defendants do not recognize as a branch of the Arojojoye ruling house whose turn it was to present a candidate or candidates for appointment to fill the vacant stool.
To succeed, therefore, in their reliefs there must be a finding in their favour that there are seven branches or stocks that form the Arojojoye ruling house. It is not seriously disputed by the defence that the Plaintiffs are members of the Akata family; they, however, seriously contested the claim of that family to be a stock of the Arojojoye family.
Both sides agree on one point and that is, that Odogun, Gangan-a-riran (otherwise Odo-Idara), Akere, Kumuyi and Aderuku are five branches of the Arojojoye ruling house. In paragraph 6 of the further amended statement of defence of the 2nd and 3rd defendants, they averred as follows:-
“6. The 2nd and 3rd Defendants deny paragraph 9 of the further amended Statement of Claim and put the plaintiffs to the strictest proof thereof. The Defendants in answer to that paragraph aver as follows:-
(a) There are only five branches to the Arojojoye Ruling House: namely –
(i) Odogun branch,
(ii) Gangan-a-riran branch, comprising Odo-Idara and Odo-Iwaro (Akutupu) Stocks,
(iii) Akere branch whose head is Aminin,
(iv) Kumuyi branch and
(v) Aderuku branch founded by Aderuku Arojojoye from whom the name Arojojoye took its root.
Adewa was the son of Aderuku Arojojoye.”
And in paragraph 9 of the further amended statement of claim of the Plaintiffs they averred:
“9. The said Arojojoye Ruling House consists of seven Stocks:-
(a) Odogun stock with Prince Owolabi as head, and Ajayi Iyun-Baba-Ileke, son of late Oba Agbeleja Odundun, as founder;
(b) Odo-Idara stock with Prince Ojo Aderiye as the head and a full brother of late Oba Eyebiokin, as founder;
(c) Akere stock with Prince John Olatunde as head and a son of late Oba Ageleja Odundun as founder;
(d) Kumuyi stock with Omoniyi Kumuyi as head and Eyeowa Ataranmotan, a son of late Oba Agbeleja as founder;
(e) Akata stock with Prince Chief Michael Daramola (first Plaintiff) as head, and Adegbuyi Abulalasogun, direct son (Abilagba – first born) of late Oba Eyebiokin, as founder;
(f) Adewa/Aderuku stock with Prince Ola Adegbola, (second Defendant) as head and late Oba Aderuku Arojojoye, son of late Oba Odundun Agbeleja as founder;
(g) Akutupu stock with Prince Gesinde as head and formerly part of Odo-Idara stock (b) (supra).”
The area of disagreement is over (i) whether Odo Idara and Akutupu (or Odo-Iwaro) form one branch known as Gangan-a-riran or are different branches and (ii) whether Akata of the Plaintiffs is a branch of the ruling house. If, therefore, the Plaintiffs’ version is found correct, then they are members of the Arojojoye ruling house and are entitled to be considered for appointment as the Ajero. But if the version of the 2nd and 3rd Defendants is found to be correct, then the Plaintiffs’ case must be dismissed.
What did the trial court find? The learned trial Judge observed:
“let me quickly settle this question as to how many branches are there in Arojojoye ruling house. The Plaintiffs say there are 7 but the defendants say that there are five. Both agree on the following branches: Akere, Adewa,Odogun, Akutupu and Kumuyi. The defendants say that Akutupu and Odo-dara are one and the same thing while the Plaintiffs say that they are separate branches and of course the main contention is the Akata branch which the Plaintiffs maintain forms a branch while the defendants say Akata is not a branch at all. I tend to believe the defendants on the Akutupu Odo-dara issue. The list of attendance at the meeting of 20th & 22nd April 1991 called by the Babalogbon group did not contain Odo-dara at all while Akutupu featured very well. This indicates that Akutupu must have included Odo-dara. So, really, the only dispute is that of Akata…”
Dealing with the issue of Akata, the learned Judge said:
“I now come to the third issue which is the relationship of Akata family with the Arojojoye ruling house. I consider this to be the pivot on which the whole case stands…. Now, the Plaintiffs are contending that the Akata family of which they are descendants are part of Arojojoye ruling house and that Abulalasogun their ancestor was the first son of Eiyebiokin while Agbeleja the ancestor of Arojojoye ruling house was the brother of Abulalasogun. I must say here that I am not impressed by the failure of both parties to prove by evidence or even in their pleadings the family tree from the apex ancestor to the present generation. Nobody, for instance told this Court how they came by either 5 or 7 stocks. Who begat whom before you now have 5 stocks or seven stock. Who was the ancestor of each stock and how was he connected with the apex ancestor? Having said that I must remark that the onus of proof rests squarely on the Plaintiffs. It is they who assert that they are related to the Arojojoye ruling house.”
The learned Judge examined closely the evidence led before him and observed:
“There is conflict in the traditional history. While the Plaintiffs say their ancestor was the first son of Oba Eiyebiokin, the Defendants are saying that Abulalasogun, the Plaintiffs ancestor came from Uro. This is oath against oath. Let us examine the evidence on either side and put them on an imaginary scale. The 1st & 3rd Plaintiffs said in their evidence that Abulalasogun was the first son of Oba Eiyebiokin and that he was a brother to Agbeleja. Even though, paragraph 9(a)-(g) of the further Amended Statement of Claim lists the head and the founder of each of the seven stocks and paragraphs 13-15 attempt to link these with Eiyebiokin whom the Plaintiffs call the apex ancestor, yet evidence was not called on these and on the authority of J. E. Elukpo & Sons Ltd. V. F.H.A. (1991) 3 NMLR (pt.179) 322 this Court cannot regard those averments as evidence in support of their claim. The only available evidence on the part of the plaintiffs is the evidence of 1st & 3rd Plaintiffs who merely said Abulalasogun was the first son of Eiyebiokin and that Awodola was the son of Abulalasogun while Awodola was the father of Akata. They did not link Awodola with any of other six stocks, nor did they say how many sons Eiyebiokin had and their names and how eventually the seven stocks became established. In fact these two Plaintiffs were the only people who tried to link Akata with Arojojoye ruling house at all. I am aware of the provision of our Evidence Act that says there is no specific number of witnesses required to establish a fact but one would have been happier to have an independent witness to give the details of the relationship. The evidence of PW4 Johnson Adenigba who described himself as a transporter from Adewa family cannot be relied upon. He merely said ‘I am related to the Plaintiffs who are from the Akata family. We are all from Arojojoye ruling house. We interact as a single family.’ He could not tell me any details of the relationship; who begat whom and how they came to be seven stocks. In fact all his evidence on the chieftaincies that are exclusively reserved for princes and which the Akata family had held before it was faulted by other witnesses. It has been established for instance, that while the Elewere is a royal chieftaincy, evidence had been led to the effect that one Ajidahun who was an Elewere relinquished it after 15 years to take up Eisiken chieftaincy on the protest of the 3 ruling houses of Ijero. It has also been established that any hunter could be appointed the Egbedi and that Eisiken is not a royal chieftaincy reserved for princes.”
Applying the quideline laid down in Kojo V. Bonsie (1957) 1 WLR 1223 in resolving conflict in traditional history, the learned Judge went on:
“And so, we shall now have recourse to events in recent times and see to which extent the evidence of each party has passed the test of facts in recent years. I have held here that intra family marriages can hardly be used to determine blood relationship because the Plaintiffs claim that members of different stocks of the Arojojoye ruling house inter marry freely and they gave examples which were not denied. The defendants’ answer, (particularly that of the 2nd defendant) is that such marriages must have been contracted outside Ijero without the couple knowing that they were related. On chieftaincies the defendants have established some chieftaincies which are exclusively reserved for princes and which have never (been) taken by anybody from Akata. The only exception to this was the Elewere held by one Afolabi Ajidahun but which he relinquished after 15 years. The defendants said it was the princes’ protest that forced him to relinquish it to take Esinkin which is the Akata’s family chieftaincy. Egbedi is a hunter’s chieftaincy. So I am satisfied that no Akata has been given a princely chieftaincy. Most important is the interactions of the Akatas with the rest of the ruling family. Even though Johnson Adenigba said the Akatas always join the Arojojoye ruling house in sharing a goat whenever anybody dies and they interact as a single family. It was this Johnson Adenigba that the 3rd defendant said was not a member of Arojojoye ruling house because he was brought by his mother from somewhere else and so could not be a competent witness on the genealogy of the Arojojoye ruling house. The 3rd defendant’s assertion on this was not debunked by the Plaintiffs. Madam Oriade Babalola debunked the claim of P.W.7 Joshua Kumuyi that the Akatas are the same with Arojojoye ruling house. He was declared a persona non grata and the entire Kumuyi family boycotted him and ceased to meet in his house for their family meetings when they sensed that he was romancing with the Ajidahuns. She said they knew that he had been bought. This was not controverted by the Plaintiffs. The evidence of Princess Chief Eyeloja Adam is succinct and categorical on the issue. She denied any relationship between the Akatas and the Arojojoye ruling house. To cap the denial of the Plaintiffs’ claim the 2nd defendant was emphatic on the fact that the Akatas had not been doing anything with them during the life time of the late Oba. They were meeting regularly every fortnight and it was only when the selection exercise began that the Akatas wanted to bulldoze themselves into their meeting. They have not been holding meetings with them before. Furthermore if Chief Eisikin, an Akata Chief could be kingmaker, the probability of an Akata to be a prince becomes remote because a prince cannot be a kingmaker. I also find it curious that none of the descendants of Abulalasogun who was said to be the 1st son of Eiyebiokin had ever contested the Ajero stool, let alone being an Ajero. No independent witness came forward to link the Akata with any ruling house and the fact that the Chairman and the Secretaries of the 3 ruling houses in Ijero wrote against the candidature of the 2nd Plaintiff (Exhibit R) makes this story of consanguinity with the Arojojoye ruling house less credible. Defence witnesses said it was when this tussle began that the Ajidahuns started to add the title ‘prince’ to their names. Another point of note is the admission of the 3rd Plaintiff that Abulalasogun, their ancestor was granted land between Obalogbon’s land and the palace. If the claim that Abulalasogun was the 1st son of Eiyebiokin was true, then it was he that should grant land to other people by virtue of his position as heir to the Oba Eiyebiokin. In fact this pece of evidence supports the defendants’ story that Abulalasogun was granted land at Odo Ogode by Obalogbon and that they farm on Olotin’s land and that that was how they became in-laws to the Olotin. Throughout the proceedings, there was no mention of any time any member of the Akata family held any position either as Elerebi or Secretary in Arojojoye ruling house nor was any specific occasion recalled when the Akatas joined the other members of the Arojojoye ruling house to do anything apart from wild and generalized assertions by the Plaintiff witnesses ‘We do everything together.’ From all this I am more persuaded by the story of the defendants from the plaintiffs’ story which is not supported by acts of recent time.”
And finally found:
“This onus the Plaintiffs have not satisfactorily discharged.”
The learned Judge concluded:
“On the whole on this issue I hold that the Plaintiffs have not satisfied me that they are entitled to the declaration that there are seven stocks in Arojojoye ruling house or that they are authentic members of the Arojojoye ruling house…”
With his findings the learned Judge rejected Plaintiffs’ version that there are seven branches or stocks constituting the Arojojoye ruling house and that Akata is one of them.
On Plaintiff’s appeal to the Court of Appeal, the Court, per Onnoghen JCA (who delivered the lead judgment with which the other Justices that sat with him agreed), set out paragraphs 22-29 and 60-65 of the further amended statement of claim of the Plaintiffs and observed that the averments in these paragraphs were admitted by the defence in paragraph 1 of the further amended statement of defence of the 2nd and 3rd Defendants and, by implication, in paragraphs 2 and 11 of the amended statement of defence of the 1st, 4th – 7th defendants. The learned Justice of the Court of Appeal opined that those averments need no further proof and concluded that the trial Judge did not properly consider the effect of the admissions of those averments on the case. He also observed that some vital averments in the Plaintiffs’ pleadings were also admitted by the 2nd and 3rd
Defendants which admission ought to favour the Plaintiffs. The learned Justice proceeded to evaluate the evidence adduced at the trial and came to the conclusion that –
“It is also my view that the appellants proved that they are members of Arojojoye ruling family even though they have not proved that there are seven stocks in that family. They did prove that Akata stock is one of the stocks in Arojojoye ruling family from the totality of the evidence before the court.
On the other hand, the 2nd and 3rd Respondents who alleged that the appellants ancestor came from Uro failed to establish same by positive evidence. No member of the family the appellant’s are alleged to come from in (sic) Uro was called to trace their relationship with the Akata family of Ijero.
In conclusion, it is my considered view that the trial judge did not properly evaluate the evidence of the appellants. In fact, he did not evaluate the impact of the admissions made by the Respondents in their pleadings.”
(Italics are mine for emphasis)
In the end, the Court dismissed Plaintiffs’ claims (a), (i), (j) and (k).
The 2nd and 3rd Defendants have in this appeal attacked the above findings of the Court below. It is the submission of their learned leading counsel, Chief Olanipekun, SAN that as the fulcrum of Plaintiffs’ case is that there are 7 stocks constituting the Arojojoye ruling house and as the Court below found that they failed to prove this fact, this case ought to fail. Learned Senior Advocate also argued that the Court below having dismissed the main or core reliefs of the Plaintiffs, was in error in not dismissing the entire Plaintiffs’ case. He submitted that where a principal order or relief was refused, the court could not go on to grant ancillary and/or consequential reliefs sought since those would not have any solid foundation upon which to stand. He relied on Akapo V. Hakeem-Habeeb (1992) 6 NWLR 266 at 297, per Karibi-Whyte JSC. It is learned Senior Advocate’s submission that the other reliefs of the Plaintiffs are “ancillary, subjected or subordinate” to the principal reliefs the Court below refused. He argues further:
“As rightly held by the trial court in the last but one paragraph of its judgment on page 366, the locus standi of the plaintiffs to institute this action has not been established since they have failed to establish that there are seven stocks within the Arojojoye Ruling House as pleaded by them. Since the plaintiffs have refused to establish this, their right to challenge the appointment or installation of the 3rd appellant/defendant is not cognizable by law. Put in another way, their right is questionable, nebulous, unidentifiable and unsubstantiated. In this type of situation, their case ought to have been dismissed or at best, struck out.”
Mr. Akanle, SAN leading counsel for the plaintiffs, in his brief, asserts:
“(a) the claim that there are seven stocks in Arojojoye Ruling House is crucial to cross-appellants’ case.
(b) but the claim that their Akata stock is one of the seven and hence part and parcel of Arojojoye is more crucial and it is a distinct claim on its own;
(c) although the Court of (1st) instance found against Akata but the court below found for it; consequently Akata stock of the plaintiffs-cross-appellants has the locus standi to institute the action herein,
(d) contrary to what the two courts below held, it is the contention of cross-appellants that they did prove the existence of seven stocks,”