From the Court



On Friday, the 3rd day of March 1972
Before Their Lordships:
George Baptist Ayodola Coker-Justice, Supreme Court
Atanda Fatai-Williams-Justice, Supreme Court
George Sodeinde Sowemimo-Acting Justice, Supreme Court
SC 27/1970
Adiatu Ladunni-Applicant
Oludoyin Adekunle Kukoyi and others-Respondent
Judgement of the Court Delivered by  George Baptist Ayodola Coker. J.S.C.
This appeal raises a point of paramount importance in that it poses in
a neat form the considerations which are enjoined upon a court in
granting an order of interlocutory injunction with regard to land. The
appellant herein was the defendant in the High Court, Lagos and the
plaintiffs therein (now respondents) had sued him for a declaration of
title to land being and situate at and known as Nos. 150-152, Jemi
Alade layout, Idi-Araba, possession of the said land, damages for
trespass to the land and an injunction against further acts of
trespass. Before the order for pleadings was applied for or made, the
plaintiffs filed a motion asking for ~an interim injunction
restraining the defendant his servants and/or agents from further
trespassing on plot Nos. 150 and 152, Jemi Alade layout, Idi-Araba,
Ikeja District, Lagos State, property of the plaintiffs pending the
final determination of this suit.” Before the motion was argued, an
order for pleadings was made and the plaintiffs accordingly filed
their statement of claim. That statement of claim avers that the land
in dispute formed a portion of lands traditionally belonging to the
Alashe Chieftaincy family who had sold to one Jemi Alade, since
deceased, and whose title to the land had been vindicated against one
Aborishade by judgments of the Federal Supreme Court. The statement of
claim further states that the plaintiffs had purchased the land from
the legal personal representatives of the said Jemi Alade and had
obtained a conveyance of same dated the 22nd July, 1968; that since
then they had been in possession of the land until the defendant
‘~with the assistance of some servants, agents and/or workmen” came on
the land and forcibly ejected them therefrom. In particular the
plaintiffs’ statement of claim avers that:-
8.    The land part of which is the land in dispute was the subject
matter of the court action in suit No.1/46/54 Bahatunde Jemi Alade v.
Aborishade in which judgment was delivered on 17th March, 1962, at the
High Court, Ikeja.
9.    The aforementioned judgment confirmed the title of the said
Babatunde Jemi Alade to the said land including the land in dispute.
There was filed along with the motion of the plaintiffs an affidavit.
The affidavit deposes to more or less the same facts as are set out in
the statement of claim. As stated before, at the time when the motion
was heard the defendant had not yet filed his statement of defence.
Three counter-affidavits were however filed by or on his behalf-two
were filed by the defendant himself and the other by his vendor,
Aihaji Elias. The affidavits of the defendant depose to the fact that
he had bought the land from Alhaji Elias by virtue of a conveyance
dated the 6th March, 1959; that he had always been in possession of
this and since then; that he never trespassed on any lands belonging
to the plaintiffs but that on the 15th January, 1969, he ejected some
trespassers from land in his possession and was in no way answerable
for the complaints of the plaintiffs. The counter-affidavit filed by
Aihaji Elias, as might be expected, confirms the sale of the land to
the defendant by himself and deposes that he, i.e. the defendant~s
vendor, had derived his title from “Mr Samuel B. Lawanson Aborishade
who derived his title from Gbadamosi Aborishade by virtue of a deed of
conveyance dated the 22nd December, 1954 and registered as No.79 at
p.79 of Volume 4 in the Land Registry in Lagos.”
At the hearing of the motion the parties canvassed the above facts and
learned counsel for the defendant opposed the granting of the order of
interlocutory injunction. The learned trial judge in a reserved
judgment review the facts before him and directed himself thus:
The principle on which the court will act in an application for an
order of interlocutory injunction is well settled and it is that the
court should be satisfied that there is a serious question to be tried
at the hearing and that on the facts before it there is a probability
that the plaintiff is entitled to relief.
The learned trial judge then adverted to the submissions of learned
counsel for the defendant that the application must fail inasmuch as
the plaintiffs had not exhibited to their affidavit a copy of the deed
of conveyance in virtue of which they are claiming. In this respect
the learned trial judge had this to say:
The applicants, he stated, must show their title to the court. As this
is an interlocutory application in which evidence was not led, I do
not consider it necessary for the applicants to exhibit all their
title deeds and other documents that they will require to prove their
case, it is sufficient to refer to these deeds in the affidavit. The
existence of this title deed had not been challenged by the
respondent. It is only when evidence is being led during the hearing
of the substantive action that the failure of the applicants to tender
these deeds may be fatal to their claim
We think this is a correct proposition of the law and we propose to
apply it in the case in hand. (See also observations of this Court in
John Holt (Nigeria) Ltd. and Anor. V. Holts’ African Workers’ Union of
Nigeria and Cameroons [1 963] 1 All N.L.R. 379). In the particular
case in hand there was affidavit evidence before the learned trial
judge of the identity of the land claimed by both parties; there was
affidavit evidence that the plaintiffs had purchased the land from the
legal personal representatives of Jemi Alade whose title had been
unsuccessfully contested by the defendant’s vendor and there was
affidavit evidence that the plaintiffs were ejected forcibly from the
land by the defendant on or about the 15th January, 1969; the
defendant also deposed to a counter-affidavit that he was in the
process of erecting a building on the land a circumstance which must
have a crucial effect upon a consideration of whether the plaintiff
will suffer irreparable injury if the status quo was not maintained.
In the face of all this evidence we think the judge was entitled to
take the course which he took of acceding to the request of the
plaintiffs. The principle seems to us to be clear and in short an
interim injunction would be granted to a party who shows that he has a
prima facie case on a claim of right or in other words that, prima
facie, the case he has made out is one which the opposing party would
be called upon to answer and that it is just and convenient to the
court to intervene and that unless the court so intervenes at that
stage the other party’s action or conduct would irreparably alter the
status quo or render ineffective any subsequent decree of the court.
We are clearly of the view that in this case the plaintiffs have made
out a case for an interim injunction and that on the whole the learned
trial judge came to the right conclusion when he decided that this was
a case in which he ought to make an order of interim injunction. In
Republic of Peru V. Dreyfus Bros. and Co. (1888) 38 Ch. D. 348 at
p.362, Kay J. adverting to the principles on which the court grants
interim injunctions, observed as follows:-
The duty of the court upon a motion like this is to consider, upon the
evidence before it, whether the plaintiffs show a probable case for
relief at the hearing. If they do not, the court should be very
reluctant to interfere with the rights of the defendants by
interlocutory injunction . . .
Another most important consideration is the relative convenience or
inconvenience to the parties of granting or withholding an injunction.
Where the plaintiffs do make out a probable case for ultimate relief,
or where the evidence leaves this so much in doubt that the court must
see there is a serious question of difficulty to try, then this matter
of convenience becomes of paramount importance.
We think that if these principles were rightly applied to the facts of
this case~ the only conclusion would be that the application herein
was properly made and granted. The appeal fails and it is dismissed.
We order that the appellant must pay the costs of the appeal fixed at
33 guineas.
Chief F.R.A Williams – For the Appellant
S.A. Adebayo       –  For the Respondents

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