Abuja property tussle: Appeal Court grants litigants’ request in suit against SAN, Polarise Bank

By Ameh Ejekwonyilo

The Court of Appeal in Abuja has slated July 5 for hearing of a property case lodged against a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mr J.B Majiyagbe by Mr Samuel Nwosu.

At the resumed hearing on Monday, the three-member panel of the appellate court granted an application seeking to substitute the name of Skye Bank for Polaris bank, which is the bank’s new name.

The application was filed by Mr. Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN) on behalf of his clients, Messrs Nwosu and Chukwuemeka Anyaoha.

The appellants, Nwosu and Chukwuemeka Anyaoha, had approached the court over ownership of a property situated at Plot 222 Shehu Shagari Way, Asokoro, Abuja.

Consequently, the court ordered that all court processes relating to appeal number CA/A/541/2018 be amended to reflect the name of Polaris Bank.

The court further made an order directing that fresh hearing notice be issued on the second respondent, Polaris Bank, who was not represented in court.

Earlier, counsel to the appellant Mr Chukwuma-Machukwu Ume (SAN) tendered a letter from the Deputy Registrar of the court confirming that the correct number of the appeal was CA/A/541/2018 and not CA/A/112/2017.

It would be recalled that on the last adjourned date, a three-man panel of the appellate court headed by Justice Abubakar Yahaya, ordered Ume, Mr G. O. A. Ogunyomi and Oluwasegun Owa, lawyers to the 1st and 2nd respondents, to correct the discrepancies in the appeal number.

This was sequel to an observation raised by Mr G.O.A Ogunyomi, counsel to Mayiyagbe that whereas the motion that was filed by the appellants was marked CA/A/541/2018, the original appeal number handed by the court, was CA/A/112/2017.

The appellants, Nwosu and Chukwuemeka Anyaoha, had approached the court over ownership of a property situated at Plot 222 Shehu Shagari Way, Asokoro, Abuja.

In their brief of argument, the appellants alleged that Majiyagbe, being their tenant, owed them one year rent.

They said they were surprised when they learned that Majiyagbe subsequently issued a letter to his co-tenants, notifying them that he had bought the property and demanded that they should henceforth pay rent to him.

However, in his own amended statement of defence and counter-claim, Majiyagbe said he bought the property from Skye Bank Plc, now Polaris Bank Ltd.

He said the property was sold to him after a company, Sam Total Trade Ltd, which used it as collateral, failed to pay N60 million mortgage loan it took from the bank.

The appellants are specifically praying the appellate court to set-aside a ruling of the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, which rejected an application they filed to join the alleged debtor, Sam Total Trade Ltd, as an interested party in the case.

They are further praying the court to declare that the senior lawyer had no right to issue his co-tenants, any document purporting to claim that he was now the landlord of the property.

They are equally praying for an order of injunction restraining Majiyagbe from asserting any right of ownership over the property.

Meanwhile, two related cases that were the offshoot of the legal dispute had been struck out by the Lagos State High Court in January, 2014.

In a certified true copy of the ruling striking out the suits marked: LD/316M/2005 & ID/690/2005 before Justice K. O. Alogba, the court held the suits were “incompetent.”

In the said suits, Skye Bank Plc and Mr. Samson Akiode were the claimants, while Mr. Samuel Nwosu, an appellant in the appeal was named a defendant.

Delivering his ruling, Justice Alogba had held, “I have perused the affected originating processes in both suits. I agree that they are incompetent being in violation of Section 2(1) of the Legal Practitioners Act CAP L11 Law of Federation of Nigeria, 2004.

“The effect is that both suits are based on incompetent originating processes and so renders the case incompetent. Both suits are accordingly hereby struck out,” the court held.

It would be recalled that it was on the basis of these suits which were pending in 2005, that Mr. J.B Majiyagbe purportedly acquired the property located at Asokoro in Abuja, which allegedly belonged to Messrs Samuel Nwosu and Chukwuemeka Anyaoha, who are the appellants.

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