CASE SUMMARY OF:
Engr. Christopher Ugwu & Ors v. Mrs. Magdalene Ezeanowai & Ors (2017) - CA
1. ENGR. CHRISTOPHER UGWU
2. ANTHONY EZEANOWAI
3. GEOFFREY EZEANOWAI
4. THEOPHILUS EZEANOWAI
5. DANDY EZEANOWAI
6. CHINEDU EZEANOWAI
1. MRS. MAGDALENE EZEANOWAI
2. NELSON NDUBUISI EZEANOWAI
3. MISS FRANCA EKWUTOSI EZEANOWAI
Court of Appeal
LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Joseph Tine Tur, J.C.A.
LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
FOR THE APPELLANT
- Chief (Mrs) A.J. Offiah, SAN
FOR THE RESPONDENT
- V. U. Ugwu, Esq
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The respondents who were the plaintiffs at the High Court commenced by Writ of Summons proceedings against Engineer Christopher Ugwu & Ors. before the High Court of Justice of Enugu in Enugu Judicial Division on 13th November, 2002. They sought among several reliefs though related, "A declaration that the storey building situated at No.10 Chime Avenue, New Haven, Enugu is a family property and belongs to the plaintiffs and the defendants except the 1st defendant (1st Appellant) collectively and in common.".
After consideration of the suit, the Judge of the High Court gave judgement in favour of the plaintiff. This has therefore necessitated the appeal by the defendants now the appellants.
Whether the weight of evidence adduced by the respondents entitled them to the remedies the learned trial Judge granted them in the lower Court?
The Justices of the Court of Appeal gave judgement in favour of the respondents. the lead judgement stated, "The learned trial Judge was right in entering judgment for the respondents.":
"The 2nd - 5th appellants acquiesced to the partition of family property on 2nd April, 1997 (see Exhibit "1"). They have no legal nor equitable interest to donate the same portion of the property to the 1st appellant."
"My humble opinion is that upon the death of Andrew Uzoma Ezeanowai on 12th day of May, 1973 his property was to have devolved on the immediate or extended family members according to the native law and custom prevailing in his locality and by a partition of the family property there was no need for the respondents to seek that a receiver should be appointed to collect rent on their property, the property having become theirs absolutely. Furthermore, the lifespan of the Letters of Administration ceased to have any legal effect since 2nd April, 1997 when the property was partitioned.";
Order 18 Rule 3(1)-(4) of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2011;
Order 18 Rules 4(1) and (2) of the Rules;
S.134 Evidence Act 2011;
S.70 - 73 Administration of Estate Law Cap. 5 Revised Laws of Enugu State of Nigeria, 2004;
S.45(1) CFRN 1999;
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The issues formulated by the appellants have to be distilled from the grounds of appeal and the pleadings. - JOSEPH TINE TUR, J.C.A. Engr. Christopher Ugwu & Ors v. Mrs. Magdalene Ezeanowai & Ors (2017)
By the provisions of Order 18 Rules 3(3) of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2011, the parties should assume I have read the briefs and considered the exhibits, authorities and the reasoning of the learned trial Judge in order to arrive at this decision. This will obviate the necessity of having to summarize the arguments of the learned silk and the respondents' counsel in the briefs of argument which often makes the proceedings bulky but not concise. - JOSEPH TINE TUR, J.C.A. Engr. Christopher Ugwu & Ors v. Mrs. Magdalene Ezeanowai & Ors (2017)
What is not denied on the pleadings needs no further proof at the trial. No person sets out to prove that which has not been denied. - JOSEPH TINE TUR, J.C.A. Engr. Christopher Ugwu & Ors v. Mrs. Magdalene Ezeanowai & Ors (2017)
Partition of family property has to occur by the voluntary agreement of the beneficiaries to the estate of the intestate and is usually evidenced in a deed or proved by parol evidence. - JOSEPH TINE TUR, J.C.A. Engr. Christopher Ugwu & Ors v. Mrs. Magdalene Ezeanowai & Ors (2017)
Family property remains so once partition has not occurred. - JOSEPH TINE TUR, J.C.A. Engr. Christopher Ugwu & Ors v. Mrs. Magdalene Ezeanowai & Ors (2017)
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