⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Oyebamiji & Ors. v. Iyabo Afusat Lawanson & Ors. (2008) – SC
– Statute Barred;
– Administration of estate;
– Concurrent findings;
1. Alha Ji Oyebamiji;
2 Mr. Lucky (Deceased);
3. Alha Ji Busari Basiru;
4. Mr Lanre Laoye Ogunyemi;
5. Alha Ji Ganiyu Kola Balogun;
6. Mr. Kayode Omotosho;
1. Iyabo Afusat Lawanson;
2. Ismaila Lawanson;
3. Kazzim Lawanson;
4. Next of Kin and Beneficiaries of the Estate of Bamidele Ayinla Lawanson (Deceased)
(2008) 15 NWLR (Pt.1109) 122;
(2008) 6-7 SC Pt. 1243;
(2008) 6-7 SC Pt. 1243;
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
J. O. Ogebe, J.S.C;
⦿ LAWYERS WHO ADVOCATED
* FOR THE APPELLANT
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
The respondents sued the appellants before the High Court of Justice Ibadan claiming the following reliefs:
(a) N10,000.00 General damages for trespass being presently committed by the defendants on the property of Bandele Ayinla Lawanson (deceased) the father of the plaintiffs lying and being at Orita Bashorun, Aba Road, Ibadan covered by Deed of conveyance registered as 50/50/458 of Lands Registry, Ibadan.
(b) Perpetual Injunction restraining the defendants by themselves, their agents, servants and privies from committing further trespass on the land.
Pleadings were exchanged by the parties and the trial court after hearing evidence and listening to the addresses of the parties gave judgment in favour of the Respondents.
Dissatisfied with the judgment, the appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal Ibadan and raised for the first time the issue of limitation of action. The Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.
This is a further appeal to the Supreme Court.
1. Whether the statute of Limitation or any statute for that matter, is one that the Appellants should specifically plead in their statement of defence or one to be merely inferred by the court from the Respondents’ Writ of Summons and statement of claim and no more as the appellants are contending in this appeal?
2. Whether the plaintiffs/respondents has discharged the burden of proof placed on them to entitle them to the judgment of the court in this appeal?
⦿ HOLDING & RATIO DECIDENDI
[APPEAL: DISMISSED WITH N10,000]
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT, AND AGAINST THE APPELLANT.
i. These provisions are very clear that a party wishing to rely on a Statute of Limitation or the Administration of Estate Law must specifically plead same. It is not true therefore that such defence should be left to speculation or inference. Apart from that, the respondent’s claim was for present trespass as at the time of the action, and the Statute of Limitation could not possibly apply to it. It was also very clear from the pleadings that the respondents inherited their deceased father’s property under Customary Law and so, the question of the application of the Administration of Estate Law or the application of English Law did not arise.
2. ISSUE 2 WAS RESOLVED IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT, AND AGAINST THE APPELLANT.
i. The facts of the case are relatively simple. The respondents sued for trespass and injunction and were able to show that their father purchased the land in 1959 from Olugbode family under customary law, and the land was converted into a conveyance exhibit 8′ on 20th April, 1961, which was duly registered in the Land Registry, Ibadan. The appellants claimed to have bought the land by customary law as far back as 1956 but were unable to establish that fact. The trial court disbelieved them and gave judgment in, favour of the respondents. The Court of Appeal also evaluated the evidence thoroughly and dismissed the appellants’ appeal. It is not the practice of this Court to interfere with concurrent findings of facts of both the trial court and Court of Appeal on essentially issues of fact unless there is established a miscarriage of justice or a violation of some principles of law or procedure. See: Nziwu v. Onuorah (2002) 4 NWLR (Pt. 756) 22. No such situation has arisen in this case the judgments of the two lower courts cannot be faulted.
⦿ SOME PROVISIONS
Order 25 Rules 6 (1) and (2) of the High Court (Civil Procedure) Rules of Oyo State reads as follows:
“Rule 6(1): A party shall plead specifically any matter, for example, performance, release, any relevant statute of limitation, fraud or any fact showing illegality – which, if not specifically pleaded might take the opposite party by surprise.
Rule 6(2): Any condition precedent, the performance or occurrence of which is intended to be contested, shall be distinctly specified in his pleading by the plaintiff or the defendant, as the case may be; and, subject thereto, an averment of the performance or, occurrence of all conditions precedent necessary for the case of the plaintiff or the defendant shall be implied in his pleading.”
Section 6(2) of the Limitation Law Cap 64 of the Laws of Western Region of Nigeria provides:
“No action shall be brought by any other person to recover any land after the expiration of twelve years from the date on which the right of action accrues to him”;
Section 7(2) of the same Law provides: “Where any person brings an action to recover any land of a deceased person, whether under a Will or an Intestacy, and the deceased person was on the date of his death in possession of the land, and was the last person entitled to the land to be in possession thereof, the right of action shall be deemed to have accrued on the date of his death.”
⦿ RELEVANT CASES
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
It is not the practice of this Court to interfere with concurrent findings of facts of both the trial court and Court of Appeal on essentially issues of fact unless there is established a miscarriage of justice or a violation of some principles of law or procedure. – Ogebe, J.S.C. Oyebamiji v. Iyabo (2008)
The reliance of the appellants upon the statute of limitation could not be upheld since they failed to plead the relevant facts upon which the trial court could come to the conclusion that the suit by the respondents was statute barred. More importantly, the suit of the respondents was in trespass. For everyday the appellants remained on the land in dispute, which as the evidence revealed, belonged to the respondents, they committed a fresh act of trespass which was actionable. It would therefore not avail them to contend as they did that the cause of action arose on a particular date since they remained on the said land even at the time the suit was being heard. – Oguntade, J.S.C. Oyebamiji v. Iyabo (2008)