High court has unlimited jurisdiction in chieftaincy matters (4)

Justice

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA
HOLDEN ATABUJA
ON FRIDAY, THE 13TH DAY OF FEBRUARY, 2015
BEFORE THEIR LORDSHIPS
IBRAHIM T. MUHAMMAD JUSTICE, SUPREMECOURT
JOHN A. FABIYI JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT
MUSA D. MUHAMMAD JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT
CLARA B. OGUNBIYI JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT
KUDIRAT M. O. KEKERE-EKUN JUSTICE, SUPREME COURT
SC. 92/2005
BETWEEN:
GOYANG KAYILI………………………. DEFENDANT/APPELLANT
AND
1. ESLY YILBUK) …………….. PLAINTIFF/RESPONDENT
2. ATTORNEY GENERAL OF
PLATEAU STATE) …………………………………DEFENDANT/RESPONDENT
3. PANKSHIN LOCAL GOVERNMENT ……………….DEFENDANT/RESPONDENT
IN the result and with all the issues resolved against the Appellant, the totality of the appeal is lacking in merit and dismissed. On the issue of costs, I make an order that each party should bear its costs of prosecuting this appeal. Appeal is hereby dismissed with no order made as to costs.

On the Cross-appeal:- The 2nd and 3rd Respondent in the main appeal occupied the same position as 2nd and 3rd Respondents in the court below which reversed the judgment of the trial court and ruled that the Plaintiffs/Respondent had proved their case and were entitled to judgment. In other words, the Court of Appeal allowed the appeal and held that having proved that they, (Plaintiffs/Appellant before it and 1st Respondent/Cross-Respondent in this court) belong to a ruling house in Somji and the stool of village head of Somji is rotational and it is now the turn of their ruling house, it is therefore their exclusive right to occupy the stool. On the one hand, the 1st Defendant/Respondent/Appellant before us felt dissatisfied with the judgment of the Court of Appeal and hence filed the main appeal in this court.

The 2nd and 3rd Respondents/Cross-Appellants are in total support of the said appeal and urged in favour of allowing same thereof. On the other hand however, the 2nd and 3rd Respondents/
Cross-Appellants were dissatisfied also with the same judgment of the lower court and did file their notice of cross-appeal on the 16th November, 2011 containing three grounds of appeal and their particulars. In accordance with the rules of court, the Cross-Appellant filed their joint Cross-Appellants’ brief of argument on the 16th November, 2011 but deemed properly filed on the 27th November, 2012. The 1st Respondent/Cross-Respondent’s brief of argument to the cross-appeal was also filed on the 3rd January, 2013. No brief was filed on behalf of the Appellant/1st Cross-Respondent.

At the hearing of the cross-appeal, counsel relied on their respective briefs of arguments. While Mr. Pwajok representing the Cross-Appellants urged in favour of allowing the cross-appeal, Mr. Gotom on behalf of the 1st Respondent/Cross-Respondent submitted against the cross-appeal as lacking in merit and that it should be dismissed. The three issues raised for determination in the cross appeal are as follows:-

Issues for determination
1. Whether the court has jurisdiction to entertain this suit, having regard to the fact that all
venues prescribed by the relevant statute have not been exhausted. (Ground 3)
2. Whether the case as made out by the 1st Respondent was that ascension to the stool of
the village head of Somji was rotational to warrant judgment being entered for the 1st
Respondent/Cross Respondent by the court below when his claim was clearly that. NEHA
and NEES are the ruling houses of Somji village, any member of which can aspire to the
throne of Somji village. (Ground 1)
3. Whether the documents which were admitted in evidence without objection should not have probative value ascribed to them (Ground 2).”

Without having to dissipate energy or belabour effort unnecessarily, I will point out quickly that the issues raised and argued in the 2nd and 3rd Respondents/Cross-Appellants brief of argument are substantially the same as those raised and argued in the Appellant’s brief of argument. There cannot be a different approach to resolving the issues; rather, the obvious is for the cross-appeal to suffer the same fate as the main appeal. In other words, and as rightly submitted by the counsel Mr. Gotom, the cross-appeal, like the main appeal is totally devoid of any merit and should be dismissed. I so hold and dismiss the cross-appeal therefore with no order made as to costs.
On the totality of the appeal and cross-appeal, both are hereby dismissed with no order made as to costs.

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