From Godwin Tsa, Abuja
The Abuja division of the Court of Appeal on Tuesday ordered an accelerated hearing of a suit brought against a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr Majiya Agbe and Sky Bank Plc over the ownership of a multimillion naira Abuja property.
A three-member panel of the court headed by Justice Abubakar Yahaya ordered Messrs Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume, SAN, counsel to the appellants and Dr GOA Ogunyomi and Oluwasegun Owa, lawyers to the 1st and 2nd respondents, to effect corrections on defective court documents so as to pave the way for a seamless hearing.
The appellants, Messrs Samuel Nwosu and Chukwuemeka Anyaoha, had sued the respondents, Mr Majiya Agbe, SAN, and Skye Bank Plc, before a Federal Capital Territory (FCT) High Court over the ownership of a property situated at the Asokoro area of Abuja.
At Tuesday’s proceedings, 1st respondents lawyer Mr. Ogunyomi drew the attention of the court to discrepancies in the appeal numbers that were assigned by the appellate Court’s registry, prompting the court to adjourn the matter till March 22 when the issues would have been sorted out.
In his submissions, Ume urged the court to grant parties a short adjournment so as to rectify the errors.
‘It is hereby ordered that parties in the suit go to the court’s registry immediately to sort out the anomaly in the court processes. The suit is adjourned till March 22 for hearing,’Justice Yahaha, the presiding judge held.
The suit was instituted before Justice AO Ebong, who delivered a ruling on November 30, 2016, on an interlocutory issue that bordered on amending the court process to bring in an interested party.
According to the appellants’ brief of argument, Mr Majiya Agbe is their tenant and allegedly owed a year’s rent.
However, ‘suddenly, Mr Agbe issued a letter to his co-tenants that he is now the landlord of the same premises and that the co-tenants should henceforth pay their rents to him.’ This development triggered the legal battle, according to the appellants.
While the 1st respondent, Mr Agbe, claimed in his second amended statement of defence and counterclaim that ‘Sam Total owes N60 million to the 2nd respondent, Skye Bank Plc – that it was the forfeiture of mortgage that enabled the 2nd respondent to sell the house to him (Agbe, SAN).’
As a result, the appellants urged the lower court (FCT High Court), presided over by Justice Ebong, to join the alleged debtor, Sam Total Trade Ltd, in order to give its own version of the said debt of N60 million and for the appellants to inform the court of its version of the alleged Deed of Legal Mortgage already pleaded by the 1st respondent.
But the respondents, Mr Agbe and Skye Bank Plc, vehemently opposed the appellants desire to bring in the necessary party, alleging ‘abuse of court process,’ which Justice Ebong upheld.
In their grounds of appeal, the appellants pointed out that the trial court erred in law when it held that: ‘It is therefore the plaintiff’s claim endorsed on the writ of summons and statement of claim that determines who the necessary parties to the suit are…’
The appellants maintained that the court ‘misdirected itself’ in several of its reasonings concerning the ruling.
In the appellants’ pleadings, they urged the three-member panel of the Appeal Court to declare that Mr Agbe has no right whatsoever to issue his co-tenants any documents purporting to claim that the defendant (respondent) is the landlord of the property, Plot 222 Shehu Shagari Way, Asokoro, Abuja.
‘An order of injunction restraining the defendant either by himself or by his agent, assigns or any person howsoever claiming through him from asserting any right of ownership over the property Plot 222 Shehu Shagari Way, Asokoro, Abuja, or Plot 222 Cadastral Zone A4, Abuja or doing anything that derogates from the 1st and 2nd Plaintiffs (appellants) right of ownership of the property,’ the appellants prayed the court.