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Court of Appeal says only State High Courts can determine land compensation matters

In what some analysts say is a landmark judgment, the Court of Appeal in Calabar on July 13, 2018, delivered judgment in favour of Mobil Producing Nigeria Unlimited (Mobil) in an Appeal arising from a Federal High Court, Uyo judgement delivered on March 27, 2014, with respect to compensation to land.

Mobil had appealed the Federal High Court decision in Suit No. FHC/UY/CS/53/2003 filed by the law firm of Nwoko & Co., in which the judgment sum plus interest amounted to over ₦1.2billion against Mobil for compensation to land.

In a unanimous judgment, the Court of Appeal agreed with the submissions of Counsel to Mobil, Prof. Fabian Ajogwu SAN, as canvassed by Ituah Imhanze, Esq. of Kenna Partners, and held that in line with section 39 of the Land Use Act 1978, the Federal High Court lacked the jurisdiction to hear and determine matters in relation to compensation to land. The Court further decided that Mobil, having paid compensation for the land to the appropriate authorities, ought not to have been joined as a party to the suit.

The Presiding Justice of the Court of Appeal, Calabar, Hon Justice I.M.M. Saulawa delivered the lead judgment with Hon. Justice S.J. Adah and Hon. Justice J.O.K Oyewole concurring.

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