ALIU & ORS v. MOHAMMED & ORS (2018)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Thursday, the 15th day of February, 2018

CA/AK/61/2015

Before Their Lordships

UZO IFEYINWA NDUKWE-ANYANWU Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria
MOHAMMED AMBI-USI DANJUMA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria
OBANDE FESTUS OGBUINYA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

1. ALHAJI OLU ALIU
2. ALFA AJIGBOHUNRERE KAREEM
3. MALLAM DAUDA LAWAL
(FOR THEMSELVES AND ON BEHALF OF OKA MUSLIM COUNCIL, OKA-AKOKO, ONDO STATE OF NIGERIA)
4. ALHAJI ABDULKAREEM ASHIRUDEEN MOHAMMED  Appellants

AND

1. ALHAJI ABUBAKAR ISSA MOHAMMED
2. MALLAM ALIMI ABUBAKAR (OKA STENAL)
3. MALLAM ALONGE ABUBAKAR
4. MALLAM ABUBAKAR IDRIS
5. ALHAJI OMOYUNGBO RAHEEM
6. ALHAJI S.A. GIWA
(FOR THEMSELVES AND ON BEHALF OF OKA MUSLIM COMMUNITY, OKA-AKOKO, ONDO STATE OF NIGERIA)  Respondents

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UZO IFEYINWA NDUKWE-ANYANWU, J.C.A. (Delivering the Leading Judgment): This is an appeal against the judgment of the High Court of Ondo State delivered on the 12th day of December, 2013 by Hon. Justice B. F. Adeyeye.By a Writ of Summons dated 16th day of September, 2009 the Claimants now Appellants in this appeal claimed against the Defendants now Respondents as follows:
1. Declaration that Alhaji Abdulkareem Ashirudeen Mohammed the 5th Plaintiff has been duly appointed as the Chief Imam of Oka Akoko, Ondo State of Nigeria having been so pronounced by the Oka Muslim Council and with the concurrence of Oka Oba-In-Council.
2. An injunction restraining the Defendants, whether by themselves, their agents, servants, privies from doing or attempting to do anything or behaving in any manner whatsoever to or likely to disrupt the official Turbaning Ceremony of the 5th Plaintiff as the Chief Imam of Oka Akoko, Ondo State of Nigeria.

The Defendants/Respondents in opposition filed a Statement of Defence and counter-claim wherein it counter-claimed against the Plaintiffs/Appellants as follows:
1. A declaration that the first counter-claimant is the one duly appointed as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko, Ondo State of Nigeria having been so appointed since 2006 and by so he is the only person entitle to lead Oka-Akoko Muslims’ Community.
2. A declaration that the fifth Plaintiffs are not the authentic and or accredited representatives of Oka-Akoko Muslim Council and or Community and therefore cannot act for and on behalf of Oka Muslims’ Council/Community.
3. A declaration that the Plaintiffs cannot appoint the fifth Plaintiff or any person or body as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko and the purported appointment of the fifth Plaintiff as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko is void and of no effect.
4. An Order of perpetual injunction restraining the Plaintiffs jointly and severally from appointing and or turbaning the fifth Plaintiff as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko, Ondo State of Nigeria.
5. An Order of perpetual injunction restraining the fifth Plaintiff from presenting himself to first to fourth Plaintiffs or to any other person for the purpose of appointment and or turbanning as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko, Ondo State and from performing the function of Chief Imam or parading 
himself as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko, Ondo State.
On 2nd October, 2009 the Appellants filed a notice of discontinuance of their suit and same was accordingly struck out on 19th April, 2010. However, the Respondents as counterclaimants continued with their counter-claim at the lower Court.
At the close of pleadings the case proceeded to trial. The Respondents called two (2) witnesses and tendered Exhibits C1 – C15. The Appellants opened their defence and they testified and tendered Exhibits A – F.
At the conclusion of the trial and address of counsel the learned trial judge entered judgment for the Respondent.
Being aggrieved by the decision of the trial Court the Appellants lodged an appeal to this Court containing three grounds of appeal.
In accordance with the Rules of this Court parties have filed and exchanged their briefs of argument.
The Appellants relied on their briefs filed on the 4th June, 2016 but deemed properly filed on 27th February, 2017- in which they distilled two issues for determination as follows:-
1. Whether it was right for the learned trial Judge to hold that Exhibit CC4 is the agreed

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regulation for the appointment of the Chief Imam of Oka, when same document was not signed or endorsed by the principal officers of each Muslim Society/factions as provided by Exhibit CC4.
2. Whether the Imamship Advisory Committee inaugurated by the DW1 at his Palace did not exceed its role as an “Advisory Committee” when it produced Exhibit CC1 purporting to appoint the 1st Respondent/Counter-Claimant as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko, Ondo State of Nigeria.

The Respondents relied on the brief of argument filed on the 29th March, 2017 wherein he raised a preliminary objection and argued it at page 1 – 5 thereof. On the main appeal, the Respondents raised a sole issue for determination as follows:-
1. Whether from the circumstances of this case, the learned trial Judge was right to hold that the 1st Respondent is the rightful Chief Imam of Oka or put differently
Whether from the circumstances of this case, the learned trial Judge was right to have granted the reliefs sought by the Respondents in their counter- claims.

In response to the Respondents’ brief the Appellants also filed a Reply brief on 18th October, 2017.
THE PRELIMINARY OBJECTION
It is the contention of Counsel for the Respondents that the appeal and the arguments proffered in the Appellants’ brief are incompetent because:-
1. The Appellants while praying for extension of time within which to file and serve their appellants’ brief did not pay the mandatory penalty fees for the default contrary to Schedule three made pursuant to Order XII Rule 1 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016.
2. Issue two of the Appellants’ brief does not arise from any of the grounds of appeal.
3. There is no issue formulated out of grounds 1 and 3 of the grounds of appeal.
With regards to the 1st objection, It is the contention of counsel that the Appellants having failed to file their brief within the stipulated time as provided in Order 19 Rules 2 of the Court of Appeal Rules filed an application for extension of time without paying the mandatory penalty fees for lateness. He referred to Schedule II of Order 12 Rule 2 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016. He contended that failure to pay the penalty fees is a condition precedent which if performed vest the Court with jurisdiction to entertain the matter. Thus, failure to comply with Schedule III of Order 12 Rule 2 of the Court of Appeal renders the brief incompetent and same should be struck out as the Court is deprived of its jurisdiction. He cited the cases of SKEN CONSULT V SEKONDI UKEY (1981) 1 SC; MACFOY V UAC (1962) AC 152; MADUKOLU V NKEMDILIM (1962) 2 SCNLR 341.
In arguing the 2nd Objection, counsel reproduced the three grounds of appeal contained in the Notice of appeal filed by the Appellants along with two issues formulated by the Appellants in their brief and submitted that issue 2 framed by the Appellants did not flow from any of the three grounds of appeal filed. He argued that the issue has no foundation and is therefore incompetent and ought to be struck out. He cited the cases of H.R.H EZE DR. FRANK ADELE EKE V MR. GODFREY CHIZIEZE OGBONDA (2007) 6 WRN 74; EZENWA V OKO & ORS (2008) 3 SCM 50; WAEC V ADEYANJU (2008) 7 SCM 172.
He also contended that the Appellants having not complained of the non-pleading of Imamship Advisory Committee in any of the grounds of appeal cannot be heard to argue against it.
He thus urged this Court to strike out the issue for being incompetent.

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In arguing the 3rd objection, counsel submitted that the Appellants having not distilled any issues from grounds 1 and 3, the said grounds is deemed to have been abandoned and same should be struck out. He relied on the cases of EHOLOR V OSAYANDE (1992) 6 NWLR (Pt 249) 524; IBRAHIM V MOHAMMED (2003) 6 NWLR (Pt.817) 615.
In concluding counsel urged this Court to strike out this appeal in its entirety or strike out grounds 1 and 3 of the grounds of appeal and issue 2 of the Appellants’ brief.
In reply to the 1st objection, learned counsel for the Appellants contended that the appeal/Appellants’ brief is properly brought before this Court and thus competent. It is the contention of counsel that this 1st objection of the Respondents had earlier been determined by the previous panel in favour of the Appellants. He referred to the record of this Court. He also contended that assuming but not conceding that same have not been resolved, it is the contention of counsel that failure to comply with Schedule III of Order 12 Rule 2 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016 amounts to mere irregularities which would not in any way vitiate the proceedings in this case.
With regards to the 2nd Objection, it is the contention of counsel that issue 2 is competently brought before this Court.
In arguing this, Counsel reproduced issue 2 of the Appellants’ brief and submitted that although worded/couched differently, issue 2 is derived from the 3rd ground of appeal of the Appellants’ brief. Counsel also reproduced the provision of Order 7 Rule 5 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016 as follows:
… the Court in deciding the appeal shall not be confined to the grounds set forth by the appellant;
Provided that the Court shall not if it allows the appeal, rest its decision on any ground not set forth by the Appellant unless the Respondent has had sufficient opportunity of contesting the case on that ground.”

It is the contention of counsel that the inclusion of issue two in the Appellants’ brief was for the Respondents to be able to adequately contest it and therefore does not run foul of any known laws or rules.
With regards to the 3rd Objection, counsel submitted that ground 1 is an omnibus ground of appeal which the rules of this Court allows and as such ought not to be struck out. He referred to Order 7 Rules 3 of the Court of Appeal Rules 2016. On Ground 3, counsel contended that it had been resolved that issue 2 is formulated therefrom.
Furthermore, counsel contended that assuming but not conceding that the Respondent was right, it is the contention of counsel that the Appellants are entitled to be heard on ground 2 and issue 1 as they are competent.
RESOLUTION OF PRELIMINARY OBJECTION
The requirement that an Appellant shall pay filing fees and penalties where necessary is not only mandatory but also fundamental to the proceedings. MADUKOLU VS. NKEMDILIM (1962) 1 ALL NLR PG. 587. It has been held severally that payment of filing fees and indeed any penalty is a condition precedent to give validity to the Notice of Appeal or process of Court. ONWUGBUFOR VS. OKOYE (1996) 1 NWLR (PT. 424) PG. 252. SEVEN-UP BOTTLING CO. LTD. VS. YAHAYA (2001) 4 NWLR (PT. 702) PG. 47. ABIA TRANSPORT CORP. VS. QUORUM CONSORTIUM LTD.(2009) 9 NWLR (PT. 1145) PG. 1.

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However, the Appellants’ counsel argued that this issue had come before a panel of this Court. The panel in its wisdom resolved the issue in favour of the Appellants. As it is a competent panel of this Court, this panel can no longer re-open this issue.
Since it has been resolved on behalf of the Appellant, it would be held to be still subsisting as this panel cannot sit on appeal over itself.
This issue is therefore resolved against the Respondents, in favour of the Appellants.
2. The Respondents argued that the Appellants cannot be heard to argue on the Imamship Advisory Committee since it was not in any of the Grounds of Appeal. The Respondents referred the Court to Ground 3 of the Notice and Grounds of Appeal.
For avoidance of doubt, I would recap Ground 3:
The learned trial Judge erred in law and therefore reached a wrong conclusion that the DW1’s role is an advisory one to the Oka Imamship Advisory Committee which he set up, in the appointment of the Chief Imam for Oka-Akoko, Ondo State of Nigeria…
Particulars of Error
i. The Imamship Advisory Committee was set up by the DW1 at his Palace in his official capacity as the Olubaka of Oka land.
ii. The Imamship Advisory Committee was not set up in 
mosque or in any place exclusively belonging to the Muslims
iii. That as its name suggest, the Committee was to advice the DW1 and not the DW1 playing an advisory role to the Committee.

What can be more obvious than the Ground and the particulars so articulated. This doesn’t leave any room to speculate whether the Imamship Advisory Committee has been made an issue.
It is very much an issue as can be gleaned from the Ground and Particulars of Ground 3.
This issue is also resolved against the Respondents.
3. The Appellant had formulated only 2 Issues from the three (3) Grounds of Appeal. Ground 1 is the omnibus Ground and Ground 2 is the one relating to the Imamship.
Two Issues were also formulated from these three Grounds. The Court would utilize these two Issues in the determination of this appeal.
The Respondents objections to the Appellants’ appeal is hereby discountenanced.
THE APPEAL
ISSUE 1

Learned counsel for the Appellant submitted that Exhibit CC4 provides that:
“the document (Exhibit CC4) shall be endorsed by the principal officers of each Muslim Society/faction as the accredited representative thereof.”
He contended that it is clear from Exhibit CC4 that the contracting parties are:
1. Zumratul Islamiyah Society
2. Ansar-Ud-Deen Society (AUDS), Rhamet Islamiyah Association and
3. Muslim faction led by Alhaji Saliu Useni Akogunrin.

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He submitted that the word “shall” used in Exhibit CC4 connotes a mandatory obligation or duty or compliance for all contracting members of the “Muslim Community” which are the purported makers of Exhibit CC4 to sign or endorse same. He referred to the case of CAPTAIN E.CC. AMADI V NIGERIAN NATIONAL PETROLEUM CORPORATION (2000) 2 SC NQR (Pt 20) 990. While the word “each” used in Exhibit CC4 means “all” or one or more of two or more”. He referred to the New Webster’s Dictionary of the English Language (International Edition) page 293.
It is the contention of counsel that Zumratul Islamiya Society did not sign or endorse Exhibit CC4. He further submitted that since there was no mutual assent to Exhibit CC4 by all parties anything done in pursuit of Exhibit CC4 cannot stand. He relied on the case of B. F. I. GROUP V BUREAU OF PUBLIC ENTERPRISE (2008) ALL FWLR (Pt.439).
Thus the trial judge was wrong in describing Exhibit CC4 as the agreed regulation for the Appointment of the Chief Imam of Oka.
RESOLUTION OF ISSUE 1
This appeal is from the suit in the lower Court on tussle for Chief Imam of Oka land. It is pertinent to state clearly that there were two guiding things for the selection of a Chief Imam. There was Exhibit CC4 which embodies the guidelines which govern the mode of appointment of a Chief Imam. These guidelines are embodied in Exhibit CC4. More especially Moslems are enjoined to follow the Islamic Injunctions as contained in the Holy Quran and the Haddiths.
When the last Chief Imam died, there were squabbles about who would succeed him. It is a fact as elicited from both parties that the Oka Muslim Community has the right to appoint a new Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko.
At the demise of the last Chief Imam, the traditional ruler who himself is a Muslim DW1 inaugurated the Imamship Advisory Committee to scout for and appoint a suitable candidates for the post. The quality of the person to be appointed is spelt out in Exhibit CC4. Any selection that does not conform with these guidelines is amenable to be voided.
The 1st Respondent was interviewed by the Imamship Advisory Committee together with the 4th Appellant. The 1st Respondent was picked after the interview as the most eligible. A letter of 1st February, 2006 – Exhibit CC1 was written to the 1st Respondent and was offered an appointment to be the Chief Imam of Oka. The appointment was said to take effect in year 2006.
On his own part, the 1st Respondent accepted the offer vide a letter of 2nd February, 2006 Exhibit CC2 and was subsequently turbaned at the Central Mosque. The appointment of the 1st Respondent was widely published in the Newspapers particularly Hope Newspaper of 4th October, 2006 particularly at page 3 thereof. Since his turbanning, the 1st Respondent has been performing his duties as Chief Imam of Oka Community.
The Appellants thereafter on 16th September 2009 instituted this suit as Plaintiffs. The Respondents as Defendants counterclaimed. After a while, the Appellants withdrew their suit and the 4th Appellant was turbaned as the Chief Imam of Oka during the pendency of the counter-claim of the 1st Respondent.

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As I earlier said in the course of this judgment that two things stood out as what was needed for the emergence of a Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko.
The guidelines in Exhibit CC4 and the Imamship Advisory Committee set up by the Oba of Oka land. The Imamship Advisory Committee from the evidence of the witnesses for the counterclaimant sat several times, interviewed three (3) candidates. This included the 1st Respondent and the 4th Appellant.
The 1st Respondent after the interview was found suitable by the committee and was offered the appointment. He was duly accepted and turbaned in 2006. By paragraph 6 of Exhibit CC4 it stipulates the mode of removal of Chief Imam from office: I will recap the paragraph 6 of Exhibit CC4. It reads thus:-
REMOVAL FROM OFFICE
The Chief Imam Tafsiri, Naibi and Muazan shall be deemed to have been removed from office if:-
a. He is dead
b. He becomes insane
c. Commits any infraction of Islamic injunctions
d. He becomes physically incapacitated in anyway or suffers poor health.
e. He unjustifiably fails to lead the congregation for more than six consecutive times (with a proviso that period of indisposition shall be excluded).
f. He is adjudged bankrupt by a law Court.
g. He resigns his appointment.
The question to be asked is whether the 1st Respondent has breached any of the items in paragraph 6 of Exhibit CC4 to warrant appointing another Chief Imam? It appears the Oka Muslim Community jettisoned Exhibit CC4 in the appointment of 4th Appellant, breaching the Regulation of CC4 and usurping the powers of the Imamship Advisory Committee set up by the Oba himself.
Further, this Oka Muslim Committee without respect for the pending suit in the High Court went ahead to turban the 4th Appellant.
The Appellants had claimed that they did not sign Exhibit CC4. It is understandable that they did not sign Exhibit CC4 as they were captioned a splinter group or a faction, which means
“a small organized dissenting group within a larger one which opposes some of the ideas of the larger group and fights for its own ideas.”
Zumuratu Islamiyyat under the leadership of 4th Appellant had broken away from the Oka Muslim Community. No wonder they failed to sign Exhibit CC4 since they were a splinter group (Mukharijul) or a faction, their input or signatures are not expected on Exhibit CC4. What Exhibit CC4 represent will not bind them. However, Exhibit CC4 had always been in use. It was that guideline that was used in the selection of the past Chief Imam that died and is being replaced.
The 1st Respondent was turbaned in the year 2006. In the year 2009 the 4th Appellant was turbaned. This invariably means that there are two Chief Imams of Oka, causing the 1st Respondent to seek for the reliefs in his counter-claim. For avoidance of doubt, I will recap his claims and the Reliefs sought.
1. A declaration that the first counter-claimant is the one duly appointed as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko, Ondo State of Nigeria having been so appointed since 2006 and by so he is the only person entitle to lead Oka-Akoko Muslims’ Community.
2. A declaration that the fifth Plaintiffs are not the authentic and or accredited representatives of Oka-Akoko Muslim Council and or Community and therefore cannot act for and on behalf of Oka Muslims’ Council/Community.
3. A declaration that the Plaintiffs cannot appoint the fifth Plaintiff or any person or

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body as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko and the purported appointment of the fifth Plaintiff as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko is void and of no effect.
4. An Order of perpetual injunction restraining the Plaintiffs jointly and severally from appointing and or turbaning the fifth Plaintiff as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko, Ondo State of Nigeria.
5. An Order of perpetual injunction restraining the fifth Plaintiff from presenting himself to first to fourth Plaintiffs or to any other person for the purpose of appointment and or turbanning as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko, Ondo State and from performing the function of Chief Imam or parading himself as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko, Ondo State.

This suit was pending with these declaratory Reliefs therein when the 4th Appellant was appointed and turbaned Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko land.
To buttress the fact that the 1st Respondent was duly appointed, DW6 Alhaji Kareem Yaya was the Chairman of the Imamship Advisory Committee. He testified that the committee used Exhibit CC4 as the guideline for the selection of the 1st Respondent.
The defence witnesses who testified had a lot of contradictions in their testimonies, DW6 who was the Chairman of the Imamship Advisory Committee and who also signed Exhibit CC1, acknowledged the existence of Exhibit CC1 and has come to Court to deceive the Court.
It is worrisome that after the appointment of 1st Respondent in 2006, the Imams and the Alfas of Oka land decided to turban another Imam lis pendis in the year 2009. Why was there a three year gap?
I have no doubt in my mind that, this second appointment by Oka Muslim Community is fraught with fraud. Once a Chief Imam is turbaned he stays in office as per paragraph 6 of Exhibit CC4. The 1st Respondent is still alive. He has to be deposed if he is adjudged to have any of the disabilities stated in paragraph 6. To this end, there has not been any such allegation.
It would be remembered that it was the suit instituted by the Appellants in the lower Court that the 1st Respondent and others were responding to. The 1st Respondent had already been turbaned hence the suit. When the Appellants surreptitiously got what they wanted, they quietly withdrew their suit and it was struck out.
This Issue is resolved against the Appellants in favour of the Respondents.
On issue 2, learned counsel for the Appellant submitted that based on the pleadings and evidence adduced, DW1 set up a committee known as the Oka Imamship Advisory Committee. He referred to the evidence of PW4 under Cross-examination at page 75 of the record. However, the existence of the said committee, its terms of reference and mandate were never pleaded hence any evidence on same goes to no issue which ought to be disregarded by the Court. He cited YUSUF V ADEGOKE [2007] ALL FWLR 384.
He further contended that assuming but not conceding that the facts about the existence of the said committee were pleaded, it is the contention of counsel that the said committee exceeded its powers when it issued Exhibit CC1 purporting to appoint the 1st Respondent/Counter-claimant as the Chief Imam of Oka-Akoko, Ondo State. According to counsel the committee only has the power to advise and not to appoint. He relied on the meaning of Advisory Committee defined in the Black’s Law Dictionary.
He urged this Court to set aside the judgment of the lower cCourt dated 17th December, 2013.
Learned counsel for the Respondents

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on the other hand submitted that there were both oral and documentary evidence before the trial Court that Exhibit CC4 is the guidelines that regulates the appointment of chief Imam of Oka-Akoko. He referred to Exhibits DC2 and CC1; Evidence of DW1 and DW4 and the admission of the 4th Appellant.
He also contended that the fact that Zumuratul Islamyyat did not sign Exhibit CC4 is of no moment as Zumuratul Islamyyat under the leadership of the 4th Appellant had broken away from the Oka Muslim Community. Thus their signatures on Exhibit CC4 was no longer necessary. He further submitted that the case of AMADI V NNPC(SUPRA) relied upon by the Appellants for the interpretation of the word “shall” used in Exhibit CC4 is not relevant in the instant case as what was under consideration was the interpretation of the word “Shall” used in a Statute. He also contended that in that case per Karibo Whyte JSC held that the word Shall cannot be pinned down to a particular usage, meaning that it may be mandatory or directory.
He further submitted that even if the Appellants were right, they have not shown that the reliance by the learned trial judge on Exhibit CC4 has occasioned a miscarriage of justice.
He contended that apart from Exhibit CC4 there was other evidence on the record that support the judgment of the lower Court. For instance the Respondents were able to show that appointment of Imam is regulated by Islamic Law and Practice which was conceded by the Appellants.
On the role of the Imamship Advisory Committee, counsel contended that contrary to the Appellants’ contention the committee was saddle with the responsibility of appointing the Chief Imam of Oka. He referred to the evidence of DW4. He contended that while the 1st Respondent was tested in accordance with the guidelines, the 4th Appellant was not. Also the appointment letter of the 4th Appellant was signed by Secretary of Oka Oba in Council a non-Muslim contrary to the guidelines.
Thus the trial Court was right in holding that the 1st Respondent is the rightful Chief Imam of Oka as the Appellants were unable to make out a convincing case.
He thus urged this Court to dismiss this appeal and affirm the judgment of the lower Court.

RESOLUTION OF ISSUE 2 (TWO)

All the witnesses of both sides acknowledged the existence of Exhibit CC4.
The 4th Appellant only said that his Zumuratul Islamyyat did not sign the document. I had earlier elicited reasons why they did not sign Exhibit CC4. They were a splinter group of the Muslim Community in Oka. They were not even part of the mainstream prior to this tussle. They thereafter at the demise of the late Chief Imam started causing trouble for the community.
It is unthinkable that a splinter group would hoodwink the mainstream to follow them despite the foregoing.
The Oka Muslim Community jettisoned the guidelines Exhibit CC4 and the Imamship Advisory Committee in choosing another Imam, which guidelines did they follow in appointing the 4th Appellant against all known principles.
The Imamship Advisory Committee was inaugurated to advise and appoint a suitable candidate for that post. After the 1st Respondent was selected and turbaned, three years after another Chief Imam was appointed and turbaned with the Imams and Alfas of Oka land together with the Oba.
Where a process does not conform to what was officially set up, it is going against the normal run of things. The Imamship Advisory Committee had the mandate to

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advise, select and appoint. Exhibit CC4 was supposed to be a guideline for the selection of the Chief Imam of Oka Muslim Community.
The learned trial Judge painstakingly appraised all the materials placed before him. In the evaluation of evidence, the trial Courts are guided by the following principles, namely:
a. Whether the evidence is admissible.
b. Whether the evidence is relevant
c. Whether the evidence is credible.
d. Whether the evidence is conclusive and
e. Whether the evidence is more probable than that given by the other party.
MOGAJI V ODOFIN (1978) 4 SC PG. 91, AKAD INDUSTRIES LTD. V OLUBODE (2004) 4 NWLR (PT.862) PG 1.
It is pertinent here to reiterate that the Court decided in a civil case on the balance of probabilities or preponderance of evidence. This is done when a trial Court puts on an imaginary scale, the totality of the evidence adduced by the parties before it, before coming to a decision as to which evidence it accepts and which he rejects. ADEBAYO V ADUSEI (2004) 4 NWLR (PT. 862) PG. 44, OLUSILE V MAIDUGURI METRO COUNCIL (2004) 4 NWLR (PT.863) PG.290, FAGBENRO V AROBADI (2006) 7 NWLR (PT.978) PG.174.
I dare say that the trial Judge painstakingly evaluated all the material evidence placed before it and ascribed probative value to such evidence. Where the trial Judge unquestionably evaluates the evidence and justifiably appraises the facts, it is not the business of the Appellate Court to substitute its own views for the views of the trial Court. AGBI V OGBEH (2006) 11 NWLR (PT.990) PG.65, BASHAYA V STATE (1998) 5 NWLR (PT.550) PG.351, OJOKOLOBO V ALAMU (1998) 9 NWLR (PT.565) PG.226, ADEBAYO V ADUSEI (SUPRA), FAGBENRO V AROBADI(2006) 7 NWLR (PT.978) PG.174.
There is no fault in the lower Court’s appraisal of the evidence placed before it. The balance of evidence tilts in favour of the 1st Respondent.
This Issue is also resolved against the Appellants in favour of the Respondents. Both Issues are resolved against the Appellants.
This appeal is unmeritorious. It is dismissed. I affirm the judgment of the lower Court. I make no order as to costs.
MOHAMMED AMBI-USI DANJUMA, J.C.A.: My learned brother Uzo I Ndukwe – Anyanwu, JCA had availed me the benefit of a prior perusal of the lead judgment just delivered in this case.
A study of same and the record of appeal discloses that on the preponderance of evidence led at the trial Court, the Appellants had a weaker case than the defendants/counter claimants whose evidence preponderated in their favour against the Appellants. On the balance of probabilities, the respondents/counter claimants had established their claims. See the cases of Nwabuoku v. Ottih (1961) 1 SC; Appeal No CA/B/357/2014 Miracle Time Church Int. Inc. & Rev. Dr Wilfred Ohue v. Michael Unu delivered on Thursday 1st February, 2018 (unreported).
Accordingly, I concur that this appeal be dismissed and the trial decision and orders therein made be affirmed in terms of the lead judgment.
OBANDE FESTUS OGBUINYA, J.C.A.: I had the privilege to peruse, in draft, the leading judgment delivered by my learned brother: Uzo I. Ndukwe – Anyanwu, JCA. I endorse the reasoning and conclusion in it. I, too, penalise the appeal with a deserved dismissal. I abide by the consequential orders decreed in it.

Appearances

V. F. Aminu. For Appellant

AND

Gani Asiru. For RespondentCHIEFTAINCY MATTERSINJUNCTIONSPLEADINGS

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