In a unanimous landmark judgment of the Customary Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt on the 30th of September, 2020 in APPEAL NO. CCA/PH/56M/2019 brought before it by Warisenibo Johnson D. Dagogo; Se-Alabo Jonathan T. Banigo & Joel D. Ibaningo, Warisenibo H. T. Igoni, Amaopusenibo Edward J. Banigo, Se-Alabo Aminiowugha Owen M. Pepple and Se-Alabo A. L. S. Willie Pepple as Appellants and Respondents respectively, seeking a Stay of execution in SUIT NO. CCB/17/2015, Hon. Justice Frank Onyiri, while reading out the ruling, held that “there exists no valid judgment upon which the appeal of the applicants can be predicated upon.”
Going further the Judge ruled, “The corollary of the above is that there is no competent or valid appeal to sustain the instant application, as you cannot put something on nothing an expect it to stay there. U. A. C. v Mcfoy (Supra). In line with my earlier holding that the judgement of the lower court delivered on 12/9/2019 is a nullity by reason of illegality, I hold that there is no judgment to be stayed as applied by the applicants therein. The solitary issue for determination projected above is accordingly resolved in the negative namely – that this Application is not grantable in the circumstances of this case. The instant application is founded on nothing and is hereby struck out”. This position was also adopted by Hon. Justice I. E. Obuzor (Presiding Judge) and Hon. Justice Bright N. L. Deemua.
Recall that in November 2015, prior the Presentation of Se-Alabo Jonathan T. Banigo to the Bonny Chief’s Council, BCC, as Chief and Head of the Banigo Chieftaincy House, Amasenibo Joel D. Ibaningo had filed a suit at the Customary Court in Bonny LGA, seeking to be named Substantive Head of the Banigo Chieftaincy House. Whereas Judgment was entered in favor of the Applicant, upon appeal, the Customary Court of Appeal in Port Harcourt faulted the proceedings of the lower Court in the application of an illegal and unlawful procedure of adopting and applying written deposition on Oath of witness as against the statutorily provided and mandatory requirement of taking Oral Evidence on Oaths from witnesses appearing before it in any trial, as a Customary Court in Rivers State, under both Sections 256(1)(c) Evidence Act 2011 and Section 21(1) of the Rivers State Customary Courts Law, 2014 and Order 10 Rule 4 of the Rivers State Customary Court Rules 2011 and thereby voided the said judgment of the Customary Court in Bonny in SUIT. NO. CCB/17/2015.
To a large extent, this puts paid to speculations as to the Authenticity of the Leadership of the Banigo Chieftaincy House. It explains that, in law, there was no judgment recognizing anyone other than Se-Alabo Jonathan T. Banigo as the Head of Banigo Chieftaincy House, as other processes carried out, were done in illegality and therefore cannot stand.