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ALHAJI ISA NOEKOER V. EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE AND OTHERS
BEFORE THEIR LORDSHIPS
OLABODE RHODES-VIVOUR, J.S.C
MARY UKAEGO PETER-ODILI, J.S.C
JOHN INYANG OKORO, J.S.C
AMIRU SANUSI, J.S.C
SIDI DAUDA BAGE, J.S.C
ALHAJI ISA NOEKOER – Appellant(s)
1. EXECUTIVE GOVERNOR OF PLATEAU STATE
2. ATTORNEY-GENERAL & COMMISSIONER FOR JUSTICE, PLATEAU STATE
3. MINISTRY FOR LOCAL GOVERNMENT AND CHIEFTANCY AFFAIRS, PLATEAU STATE
4. MR. IGNATIUS MIAPHEN, SECRETARY, QUA’AN PAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL
5. QUA’AN PAN LOCAL GOVERNMENT COUNCIL
6. EMMANUEL DANIANG – Respondent(s)
1. COURT OF APPEAL, JOS JUDICIAL DIVISIONAL [Coram: Chioma E. Nwosu – Iheme, Joseph Tine Tur and Elfrieda O. Williams Dawodu JJCA]
2. HIGH COURT OF PLATEAU STATE HOLDEN AT JOS [Y. P Dalffiak J., Presiding]
E. O. OKJOR with E. I. NDIDIGWE, J. E. ESANUBI, B. O. ANAJEKE and I. T. EGWUONWU – For Appellant
J. A. MAWIYDU (Hon Attorney General Plateau State) with N. D. SHASEET (Director Citizen Right) J.D. LONGDON (DDPP), N. MBAP (SSC), N.J. AGABA – SSC and S. F. DALYOP (SSC) – For Respondent
ISSUES FROM THE CAUSE(S) OF ACTION
CUSTOMARY LAW – CHIEFTAINCY MATTERS:- Election/Selection to fill a vacant stool – Judgment declaring same inconsistent with applicable native laws and customs and directing that emergent occupant be stopped from parading self as such – Nature of judgment- Whether one in rem or one in personam – Legal implications
PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE ISSUE(S)
APPEAL – INTERFERENCE WITH CONCURRENT FINDING(S) OF FACT(S): Instances where the Supreme Court will not interfere with concurrent findings of fact(s) made by Lower Courts
APPEAL – INTERFERENCE WITH CONCURRENT FINDING(S) OF FACT(S): Attitude of the Supreme Court to interference with concurrent finding(s) of fact(s) of Lower Courts
APPEAL – REPLY BRIEF:- Where deemed to contain nothing new and to be no more than a re-argument of appellant’s arguments in main brief- Attitude of curt thereto – How treated
COURT – CONTEMPT OF COURT: What amounts to contempt of court
JUDGMENT AND ORDER – CONSEQUENTIAL ORDER: Meaning, nature and effect of granting a consequential order – Whether the Court has inherent power to make consequential order
JUDGMENT AND ORDER – JUDGMENT IN REM/JUDGMENT IN PERSONAM:- Meaning of judgment in rem and judgment in personam – Distinction between judgment in rem and judgment in personam
JUDGMENT AND ORDER – JUDGMENT OF COURT: Binding effect of – Implication for parties
JUDGMENT AND ORDER – EXECUTORY AND DECLARATORY JUDGMENT: Nature of – Legal implication(s)
The appellant had been declared winner of a selection process for the vacant stool of his village as against one Michael Lapang who then took out a suit challenging the outcome. At the end of trial, the learned trial judge entered judgment in favour of Michael Lapang declaring the selection as void and ordering the authoritires concerned to ensure new elections. Dissatisfied with the judgment, the appellant together with 1st-5th respondents filed an appeal while Mr. Lapang also filed a cross appeal. However, before the appeal and the cross appeal could be heard, Michael Lapang died and consequently, the appellant’s counsel applied to withdraw the appeal whereupon the appeal and the cross appeal were struck out.
Subsequently, steps were taken to comply with the initial order of the trial High Court which appealed was struck out through the conduct of fresh elections to select an occupant for the stool. the Appellant brought a new action seeking the court to declare the former judgment as a judgment in personam which could not subsist upon the death of the person who initiated it.
JUDGMENT APPEALED AGAINST
The Court of Appeal upheld the earlier decision of the trial court which held that the prior judgment of another High Court in regard to the subject matter of the case (village stool of Kwalla District of Qua’an Pan local government of Plateau State) was a judgment in rem. Therefore, the appellant’s claim to the stool was legally untenable and not recognisable at law.
ISSUE(S) FROM THE CAUSE(S) OF ACTION
1. Whether the learned justices of the Court of Appeal were right to have found that the judgment of the Plateau State High Court in a Chieftaincy matter in suit No.PLD/S.5/2001 is a judgment in rem which survived the death of Michael Lapang in whose favour judgment was given and who died during the pendency of the appeal against the said judgment of the Court of Appeal in Appeal No.CA/J/192/2006 and that the 1st to 5th Respondents can enforce the said judgment to suspend the Appellant for purposes of conducting fresh selection into the stool of District Head of Kwalla (Ground no.3); and
2. Whether going by the three final reliefs granted by the trial judge in his judgment in Suit No.PLD/S.5/2007, the election of the Appellant as the District Head of Kwalla on the 16th May 2001 was nullified or declared to have been nullified as held by the learned Justices of the Court Appeal (Grounds Nos.1 and 2).
AMIRU SANUSI, J.S.C. (DELIVERING THE LEADING JUDGMENT):
The appellant herein, lodged this appeal against the judgment of Jos division of the Court of Appeal [“the Lower Court” or “Court below”] delivered on the 9th day of December, 2014 which had earlier affirmed the judgment of the High Court of justice, Plateau State [the trial Court] delivered on 20th of May, 2013.
The Kwalla District of Qua’an Pan local government of Plateau State, as at the time material to this case, had six villages each having a village head as its traditional head/leader. Each of the six village heads was by law eligible to contest the stool of the district head of Kwalla district in the event of having a vacancy of the stool. On the 16th of May, 2001, the appellant, who was the village Head of Shangfu, contested for the stool of District Head of Kwalla following a vacancy of that stool along with one Michael Lapang who was the village head of Chun village. The appellant was declared winner having scored 3 votes as against the 2 votes scored by the said Michael Lapang and was accordingly declared winner.
JUDGMENTS BY AREAS OF PRACTICE
JUDGMENTS BY PRACTICE/PROCEDURE ISSUES