⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
ALHAJI AMINU JUBRILLAH ABDULLAHI & ORS v. MRS. CHRISTIANA IYABO ADETUTU (2019) LCN/4802(SC)
by PipAr Chima
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
- TRIAL JUDGE DISCRETION FOR LOCUS IN QUO; LOCUS IN QUO
It is clearly at the discretion of the trial Judge to determine whether in the light of the evidence before him, there is need to resolve, by a visit to the locus in quo, the conflict of evidence or clear a doubt as to the accuracy of a piece of evidence when there is such conflict of evidence. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)
Circumstances that could warrant such a visit include the following: where there is a conflict of evidence as to the existence or otherwise of something material to the case and such a visit would resolve the conflict in evidence or would clear a doubt as to the accuracy of any piece of evidence on the subject, Seismograph Service (Nigeria) Ltd. v. Akporuovo  6 SC 119, 128; Seismograph Service (Nigeria) Ltd. v.Ogbeni 4 SCNLR 5, 104 -105; Ipinlaiye ll V Olukotun 6 NWLR (pt. 453) 148; Atumeyi v. Achimugu (1980) NMLR 90, 92. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)
- APPELLATE COURT INTERFERENCE WITH TRIAL COURTS DISCRETION
It needs to be emphasised here that an appellate Court will usually not interfere with an exercise of discretion in its quest to obtain substantial justice except where it is satisfied that the discretion was exercised arbitrarily or illegally or without due regard to all necessary consideration having regard to the circumstances of the particular case. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)
Even then, it is well – established that an appellate Court will not, in principle, interfere with the exercise of discretion by the trial Court unless that discretion is shown to have been exercised upon wrong principles or that the exercise was tainted with some illegality or substantial irregularity. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)
- EVALUATION OF EVIDENCE; INTERFERENCE BY APPELLATE COURT
It has long been established that the function of the evaluation of evidence is essentially that of the trial Court, Igago v State (1999) LPELR – 1442 (SC) 27; Onuoha V. The State  5 NWLR (pt. 548) 118. Where the trial Court has unquestionably, evaluated evidence and, justifiably, appraised the facts, it is not the business of an appellate Court to interfere, and to substitute its own views for the view of the trial Court. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)
- ADMISSIBILITY OF UNREGISTERED INSTRUMENT; UNREGISTERED INSTRUMENT TO EVIDENCE PURCHASE RECEIPT
I must note right away, that the admissibility or otherwise of an unregistered registerable instrument depends on the purpose for which it is being sought to be admitted. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)
An unregistered registrable instrument, sought to be tendered for the purpose of proving or establishing title to land or interest in land, would be inadmissible under Section 15 of the Land Instruments Registration Law; if it is however tendered to show that there was a transaction between the lessor and the lessee, it will be admissible as a purchase receipt. It will also be admissible if it is meant to establish a fact which one or both parties have pleaded. Under these two conditions, such a document does not qualify as an instrument as defined in the Land Instruments Registration Law. – Nweze JSC. Abdullahi v. Adetutu (2019)
- ALHAJI AMINU JUBRILLAH ABDULLAHI
- AHAJI JUNAID JUBRILLAH ABDULLAHI
- HADIJA KHADIJAT IBRAHIM (for themselves and on behalf of the Estate of Alhaji Jubrillah Abdullahi, the original first Appellant)
- RASHEED ADETOKUNBO
- JAMES OJO
Mrs. Christiana Iyabo Adetutu
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Chima Centus Nweze, J.S.C.
- FOR THE APPELLANT
- Bisi Ade-Ademuwagun
- FOR THE RESPONDENT
- Jean Chiazor Anishere
⦿ CASE HISTORY
The appellant sued for declaration that the plaintiff is the person entitled to Statutory Right of Occupancy in respect of a land situate, lying and being at Onipetesi, Idimango, Agege, Lagos State, which is more particularly described and delineated on Survey Plan No. AB/LA/86/311 prepared by. I. A. Babalola., Licensed Surveyor on the 23rd day of September, 1986.
The respondent, in another suit, sued for a declaration that she is entitled to the Statutory Right of Occupancy in respect of the land situate, lying and being at Onipetesi, Agege, Lagos, which is delineated on Plan No. CD. 52/71 dated 2nd March, 1971, annexed to the Deed of Conveyance granted to the her by Adetokunbo Bisiriyu dated 28th September, 1971 and registered as 55/55/1369.
⦿ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION
- Whether the non-visit to the locus in quo was fatal?
i. By virtue of the overwhelming evidence which the respondent adduced at the trial, there was every cogent reason to hold that the trial Court’s failure to visit the locus in quo did not occasion a miscarriage of justice on the appellant. As indicated earlier, the appellants were dissatisfied with the concurrent findings of the lower Courts. Now, in the first place, quite apart from the fact that they, [the appellants], did not apply for a visit to the locus in quo, Ipinlaiye II v. Olukotun  6 SCNJ 178, the trial Court entertained no doubts about the veracity of the respondent’s case, page 21 of the record: a stance which received the concurrent affirmation of the lower Court, pages 176 – 177 of the record. Worse still, the appellants failed, woefully, to perforate the effervescence of the said concurrence by any allusion to their perversity, that is, their persistence in error; different from what is reasonable or required, against weight of 10 evidence.
ii. Whether the lower Court erred when it agreed with the trial Court that the appellants’ document of title, exhibit D8 (instrument title not registered), was inadmissible?
i. Instructively, the [trial Court] found as a matter of fact at pages 394 – 395 of the record that – “The plan attached is dated 1986 but Exhibit D8 was made in 1969. The date on the conveyance and the survey plan are not the same. The plan was prepared in 1969 but signed by the surveyor seventeen years later in 1986. The above discrepancy regarding the dates in the two documents was adjudged by the lower [trial] Court to have rendered Exhibit D8 ineffective. What is more, the said Exhibit D8 was a registrable instrument by virtue of the provision of Section 15 of the Instruments Registration Law of Lagos State, as amended. However, by the non-registration thereof, Exhibit D8 has been rendered rather inadmissible.” From their pleadings and oral evidence, it is not in doubt that the said exhibit, [that is, Exhibit D8], was pleaded and sought to be tendered in evidence for the purpose of proving or establishing title to the land or interest in the land in dispute. The lower Courts were, therefore, right in their positions that it was inadmissible by virtue of its non-registration, being a registrable instrument.
⦿ ENDING NOTE BY LEAD JUSTICE – Per
⦿ CONTRIBUTIONS OF OTHER JUSTICES TO ISSUE(S)
⦿ REFERENCED (STATUTE)
Section 15 Land Instruments Registration Law.
⦿ REFERENCED (CASE)
- FAIR HEARING IS NOT A SPARE PART
Adebayo v. AG, Ogun State (2008) LPELR – 80 (SC) 23 – 24 “I have seen in recent times that parties who have bad cases embrace and make use of the constitutional provision of fair hearing to bamboozle the adverse party and the Court, with a view to moving the Court away from the live issues in the litigation. They make so much weather and sing the familiar song that the constitutional provision is violated or contravened. They do not stop there. They rake the defence in most inappropriate cases because they have nothing to canvass in their favour in the case. The fair hearing provision in the Constitution is the machinery or locomotive of justice; not a spare part to propel or invigorate the case of the user. It is not a casual principle of law available to a party to be picked up at will in a case and force the Court to apply it to his advantage. On the contrary, it is a formidable and fundamental constitutional provision available to a party who is really denied fair hearing because he was not heard or that he was not properly heard in the case. Let litigants who have nothing useful to advocate in favour of their cases, leave the fair hearing constitutional provision alone because it is not available to them just for the asking.”
⦿ REFERENCED (OTHERS)
⦿ SIMILAR JUDGEMENTS