Appeal Court Orders Retrial Of Chieftaincy Case, 13 Years After

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The legal tussle between Idoko and Uwaile quarters in Oko-Amakom, Oshimili South Local Government Area of  Delta State, over the Onihe title is to continue in Asaba High Court, as an Appeal Court sitting in Benin City, Edo State, has ruled that the rights of Uwaile indigenes were breached by the judgment of High Court, Asaba, delivered in November 1997.

The high court presided over by Justice Mathias Odita had delivered the judgment ceding the right to the title to the Idoko quarters, even as the Uwaile family’s lawyer withdrew mid-way into the proceedings, thereby leaving the Uwailke quarters without legal representation.

In spite of the withdrawal, the trial judge went ahead and delivered judgment in favour of the Idoko quarters, forcing the Uwaile quarters to appeal against the judgment on grounds that they were not giving fair hearing.

In a lead judgment delivered by Justice Ibrahim Mohammed Musa Saulawa, the court, while nullifying the earlier judgment, noted that the lower court failed to accord the Uwaile quarters opportunity to present their final address which is a contravention of constitutional provision, stressing that any judgment or decision arrived at thereafter will amount to a denial of fundamental right to fair hearing.

The court said that a hearing can only be fair when all parties are accorded opportunity to fair hearing.

Consequently, the three-man justices of the court held that the judgment of the lower court delivered on November 3, 1997 is null and, therefore, set it aside and returned the case to the Chief Judge of Delta State to reassign same for further hearing, with a cost of N50,000 against the respondents. [Vanguard]

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