⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Bola Omoniyi v. Jacob Adegboyega Alabi (2003) – CA
Jacob Adegboyega Alabi
 6 NWLR (Pt.870) 551;
Court of Appeal
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Muritala Aremu Okunola, JCA
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
FOR THE APPELLANT
- Mr. Rowland Otaru
FOR THE RESPONDENT
- O. Akeredolu Esq., SAN
The appellant in 1993, purchased from the respondent, a parcel of land, with four flats, completed building at Osogbo, for a sum of N350,000.00. The respondent and the agents of the appellant, jointly went and together, instructed a Barrister & Solicitor at Osogbo, to prepare a sale agreement, which was prepared and executed by the parties. The respondent, in addition, wrote letters to the tenants occupying the building, notifying them of the sale and transfer of the property to the appellant. The respondent being resident at Osogbo, while the appellant was at Abuja, continued to collect rents and refused to obtain the consent of the Governor of Osun State, to assign the property as required by the Land Use Act. Consequently, the appellant commenced this action.
The defendant on his own side denied any contract of sale of his house to the plaintiff. His case was that he sought loan of N350,000.00 from Adebagbo, who operated a finance company and who originally was the 2nd defendant in this suit. He was struck out of the case on the ground that no reliefs were claimed against him. He later became PW1 in this case. The defendant deposited with Mr. Adebagbo his plan and title papers as security for the loan. The defendant did not know the plaintiff and had no business with him. When the money was ready, Mr. Adegbabo, asked him to sign a document before he could take away the money.
The defendant refused to sign the document, when he discovered that it was an agreement purporting to transfer his said house to the plaintiff for N350,000.00. But the defendant eventually had to sign the document and other as a result of the fraudulent misrepresentation from the said Mr. Adebagbo and one, Alhaja Abeke Babatunde PW2.
They persuaded him to sign the documents relating to the transfer, which documents, as they represented would be destroyed, if he repaid the loan within the agreed period of three months.
- Whether or not, on the totality of evidence before the court, a case of misrepresentation or fraudulent misrepresentation was established?
- Whether the appellant was not entitled to the reliefs claimed in the statement of claim?
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
IN SUM, THE APPEAL SUCCEEDS IN PART AND IT IS ALLOWED.
- Issue is resolved in favour of the Appellant.
i. From his testimony in the record of proceeding, the respondent said he signed exhibits A & E knowing that the documents transferred his ownership in the disputed property to another person in exchange for N350,000.00. Thus, it is clear that the respondent was not in doubt of the content and import of exhibits A & E where he signed them.
ii. The signing of exhibits C1 & C2 leaves no doubt in the mind of anybody that he freely divested himself of the ownership of his land and buildings therein when he signed exhibits A & E. This finding is supported by the prevailing law in the land which stipulates that a literate person of full age and capacity at law is presumed to understand the document to which he appends his signature. He is in law deemed to be bound by whatever the document says.
iii. In the circumstance, evidence of the respondent which tended to contradict, discredit or detract from the written documents tendered in exhibits A & E by the plaintiff/appellant is inadmissible to debase the contents of exhibits A & E and C1 & C2.
- This issue is resolved in favour of the respondent.
i. There is the uncontroverted evidence that PW3 backdated exhibit A (the agreement for sale) to 1977 to conform with the provision of the Land Use Act. This exhibit along with exhibits E, C1 & C2 were made the same time in 1993. Thus, if as given in evidence before the lower court that exhibit A was made in 1977, some twenty-six years ago, there is no doubt that exhibit A, the agreement for sale, has ceased to be enforceable being barred by the Limitation Act among other provisions which prevents the issue of a discretionary order of specific performance. The purport of backdating exhibit A made in 1993 to 1977, was to deceive the Governor as consenting officer that the document was made in 1977 before the Land Use Act, 1978. This incident of deceit in exhibit A, renders the document void for the purpose of obtaining the consent of the governor for the transaction. While it is trite that an agreement must exist before the deed seeking the consent of the governor is inserted, it is equally trite that the agreement on which basis the governor gives his consent should not be affected by fraud, deceit laches.
ii. In the instant case, I hold that exhibit A (the agreement for sale) is unenforceable as an agreement as it seeks to deceive, same is also barred from being enforced in a Court of Law pursuant to the provision of Oyo State Statute of Limitation. There is no doubt that the exhibit A relied upon for the application for an order of specific performance is bedevilled by deceit.
Section 132(1) of the Evidence Act, Cap. 112;
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
Where the defendant alleged deceit, fraud or misrepresentation, he must establish by evidence that he has been misled by the statement of the plaintiff. That will be sufficient for a proof of fraud. – Muritala Aremu Okunola, JCA. Bola Omoniyi v. Jacob Adegboyega Alabi (2003)
It is our law that a literate person of full age and capacity at law is presumed to understand the document to which he appends his signature. He is deemed to be bound by whatever the document say. It is not open to such a literate adult of full capacity to plead that the signature does not belong to him; or that he was actuated by other motives. – Victor Aimepomo Omage, JCA. Bola Omoniyi v. Jacob Adegboyega Alabi (2003)
A court of law is bound to adjudicate between the parties on the basis of the case formulated by them. The court does not formulate a case for the parties or it may find itself in the arena of conflict. – Victor Aimepomo Omage, JCA. Bola Omoniyi v. Jacob Adegboyega Alabi (2003)