LAND CASES BETWEEN OWANTA AND OWA-EKEI
By Chief Dr. Onyekpeze
It was inevitable that sooner or later, a dispute was bound to arise among the people of Owa, who have joined by contributing money in the fight for the land, regarding the enjoyment of the fruit of their joint effort. The judgment of the West African Court of Appeal was delivered on 19th October 1944. In 1946, the plaintiffs and defendants were engaged in dispute over the land in dispute, which ultimately led to an action in Owa Native Court, which later transferred in this court for hearing and consideration (Ex. ‘P.5′).
The defendants (Owa-ekei) as plaintiffs sued the present plaintiffs (Owanta) in an action, in which the claim as amended was as follows:
The plaintiffs’ claim against the defendants is for a Declaration that they are entitled to continue to possess and occupy all the portion of land East of line marked by concrete pillars posited thereon and verged pink on the plan filled in Court extending from Boji-Boji on the North to Araghara on the South without let or hindrance.
£250 damages for trespass to the said land.
An injunction restraining the defendant, his people, servants and agents from interfering with the said land and trespassing, or continuing the trespass on the said Eastern side of the demarcated line.
Judgment was given for the defendants Owanta. The land used in that case was received in evidence with the copy of judgment (Ex ‘D2’) and marked Ex. ‘D2′). It is superimposed on the plaintiffs’ plan Ex. ‘P1’ whereon the area covered by it is shown and bordered orange. It is abundantly clear that a substantial part of the land now in dispute was included within it.
Their claims was dismissed; the learned trial judgment stating his judgment that he was satisfied that no proper legal boundary was ever fixed between the two villages. The effect of the judgment was to dismiss the claim of Owa-ekei that they are entitled to continue to possess and occupy the land east of the line of cement pillars.
During the protracted case between AgborAliokpu and Owanta, Owa people, many other Owa villages rendered financial assistance. For example, Owa-ekei people paid £50; Owa-Alero people paid £100, etc. As the Obi had an interest in the land as the overlord, and the adversary was their powerful neighbour, Agbor; the reason for the other villages helping became quite obvious.
This was the position when Owanta (plaintiffs) sued Owa-ekei (defendants); in this action claiming from the defendants a declaration of title to the land known as Ali-Owanta; £30 damages for trespass and injunction to restrain the defendants from further trespassing on the said land. The write of summons was taken out originally in Owa NativeCourt, and by order of the Assistant District Officer, Agbor District dated 12th March 1951, transferred to this court, the Supreme Court of Nigeria in the Supreme Court of the Warri Judicial Division.
Holden at Agbor with suit No. W/4/1951/ for hearing and determination.
The position is that the plaintiffs sued in their capacity as representing Owanta and the defendants defend in their capacity as representing Owa-ekei
Owanta and Owa-ekei are two neighbouring villages which together with other villages form what is known as Owa Clan at the head of which was the Obi of Owa. It is admitted that by Native Law and Custom, all Owa Lands are vested in the Obi as the overlord, and that each village could have its own portions, over which its inhabitants may exercise exclusive right of user, while at the same time recognizing the right of the Obi as the Overlord.
Suit No W/4/1931
M.O. Ibeziakoesq. 1. Chief Buzugbe of Owanta
For the Plaintiffs 2. Chief Oloto of Owanta.
Chief Idigbeesq. 1. Chief Iteh of Owa-ekei
For the Defendants 2. Obakpolo of Owa-ekei
In between, in 1934 (Ex.3w ‘D4’), Okolo of Owa-ekei sued Aduga and Buzugbe of Owanta in the Native Court of Owa for conducting themselves in a manner likely to cause a breach of the peace “by Making false road through the complainant’s farm bush”
The Native Court found the defendants guilty and sentenced them to a fine of £2 each or in default, each to serve 2 months imprisonment with hard labour. On review by the Assistant District Officer, he annulled the judgment of the Native court and ordered that both parties should be bound over to maintain the peace. The A.D.O said that the Native Court’s decision was just, but that not withstanding, he annulled it.