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Charles Ume v. Godfrey A. Okoronkwo & Anor (1996)


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CASE SUMMARY OF:
Charles Ume v. Godfrey A. Okoronkwo & Anor (1996)
by PaulPipAr

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PARTIES
APPELLANT
Charles Ume

v.

RESPONDENTS
1. Godfrey A. Okoronkwo;
2. Jude Uzozie;

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CITATION
(1996) 10 NWLR (Pt.477) 133;

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COURT
Supreme Court of Nigeria

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LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Emmanuel Obioma Ogwuegbu, JSC

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LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
FOR THE APPELLANT
- Appellant absent and unrepresented

FOR THE RESPONDENT
- Chief F.A. Ilobi

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FACT
This is a further appeal to this court against the judgment of the Court of Appeal, Enugu Division by one of the defendants (Charles Ume) in a consolidated suits. In the High Court of Imo State, Orlu Judicial Division, the plaintiff (Godfrey Okoronkwo & Anor) instituted an action against the defendants claiming the following reliefs:
"(1) Declaration of title to the piece and parcel of land situate at Umuezeaha Umukegwu Akokwa within jurisdiction and shown in the Plan No. IM/GA2171/76 filed with this Statement of Claim. The annual value is N10.00
(2) N200.00 (two hundred naira) general damages for trespass.
(3) Perpetual Injunction restraining the defendants by themselves and/or their agents or servants or their privies from further trespass on the land or from any further violation of plaintiff's ownership and enjoyment of the said land."
The 2nd defendant filed a cross action (HOR/26/77) against the plaintiff claiming a declaration of title to the same parcel of land, general damages for trespass and perpetual injunction.
The plaintiff called the land ALA EKPE AFA situate at Umuezeaha Umukegwu Akokwa. The defendants called it ALA UMUNWOKEOCHA situate at Ikpa Umukegwu.
The 2nd defendant (Charles Ume) was protrayed to be the caretaker to the first defendant at the two held Customary Arbitrations. Later, the same 2nd defendant claimed to be the owner of the land and he appealed the decision of the High Court to the Court of Appeal, but the Court of Appeal found for the plaintiff. He further appealed the Court of Appeal's decision to this Court (Supreme Court).

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ISSUE
1. Whether the appellant and his predecessors-in-title were bound by the decision of the native or customary arbitration that sought to resolve the dispute between the appellant's predecessor-in-title and the plaintiff respondent.
2. Whether the respondent established a valid and binding customary arbitration between his predecessor-in-title and the appellant's predecessor-in-title.

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HOLDING
1. The Supreme Court held that the appellant is bound by the decision of the Customary Arbitration. The Court stressed that even if the 2nd defendant was not present at the Customary Arbitration, by the fact that he was portrayed to be the care taker, any decision then taken on his principal is binding on him.

2. The Supreme Court answered the second issue in the affirmative. The Supreme Court, stated, "The 1st defendant only resiled after the arbitrators had made their awards by refusing to produce the 'juju'. It was not open to him to do so at that stage";
"The plaintiff established a valid and binding customary arbitration which is binding on the 1st and 2nd defendants.";

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REFERENCED

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SOME PROVISIONS

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NOTABLE DICTA
One of the many methods of settling disputes under the customary law is to refer the dispute to the family head or an elder or elders of the community for a compromise solution. When the dispute has been investigated at the meeting and in accordance with customary law and a decision is given, it is binding on the parties. There is as a rule an agreement that the decision of the arbitrators would be accepted as final and binding. - Emmanuel Obioma Ogwuegbu, JSC. Ume v. Okoronkwo (1996)

Oath taking was one of the methods of establishing the truth of a matter and was known to customary law and accepted by both parties. - Emmanuel Obioma Ogwuegbu, JSC. Ume v. Okoronkwo (1996)

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