Court Rules On 21- Year Land Dispute Between Cross-River Communities
Justice Adie Onyebueke of a Cross Rivers State High Court sitting in Akamkpa, has called for an end to the protracted litigation between neighbouring communities over the ownership of a parcel of land that adjoins them.
The judge, who gave the advice while giving judgment in suit No HM/47/2001 between Akam and Okukunela communities in Ikom Local Government Area of Cross River State said the role of the court was to make peace and that there was no litigation without an end, therefore, the two communities should learn to live in peace.
The Akam community represented by Chief Alfred Aluche and Chief Sunday Edim instituted then action against the Okukunela community represented by Chief Ogar Egbe and Chief Clement Eyaba over ownership of Oyama farmland between the two communities.
The Akam community in the suit claimed that they were the adjudged owners of the Oyama farmland and that they were entitled to the royalties accruing and payable in respect of resources exploited therefrom. And that the Cross River Forestry Commission should be restrained from paying the royalties to the Okukunela community.
In his judgment, Justice Onyebueke held that from pieces of evidence provided by both communities, it was the opinion of his court that the land and the forest cannot be separated and therefore, ruled in favour of the Akam community.
The judge said the only document from the defendants to confirm the identity of land was the counter affidavit filed in their appeal at the Magistrate’s Court which in their paragraph 9 admitted is the same land. “It is my view that amounts to admission of judgment in exhibit 2 which the defendants went on appeal at the Ikom Magistrate Court but never contested the identity of the land and in the present action, they raised issues of forest which is distinct from the Oyama land which is an attempt to confuse this court.”
He said from the findings, it was clear the identity of the land was not in dispute and the admission both in pleading and in counter affidavit that both the Oyama farmland and forest are the same. He granted the reliefs sought by the claimants and awarded a cost of N100,000 in their favour and dismissed the defendants counter-affidavit at the cost of N20, 000.
“Having held as I do in the above, it is not fair that litigation should continue forever, the law frowns at same that is why we have legal principle that there must be an end to litigation,” the judge concluded.