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SHE REMEMBERS HER LATE HUSBAND: APPELLATE COURT RESCUES WIDOW AFTER 2YRS IN AGONY

After two years in agony and suffering, Mrs Nyamu Jarrett has been set free and rescued by the Court of Appeal from the hands of two of her step sons. Reynold Jarrett, 70 -year- old and Louis Jarrett 68-year-old who have been terrorizing Mrs. Nyamu Jarrett for the past two years, depriving her of her inheritance situated at 27 and 27A Dambala Road in Bo, Southern City of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
The property on 27 Dambala Road had been the bonafide inheritance of Mrs Nyamu Jarrett, while 27A was personally built by her and named Humble Cottage. For two years she was deprived of rents and other related benefits from the two properties, and left in total shamble. Her dilemma commenced after the death of her husband Mr. Albert Williamson Jarrett who had two sons with his first wife and had shared his other properties with them while he was alive.
A piece of land at Bathurst and other properties in the Central part of Freetown he bequeathed to them, but it became clear that they were not satisfied with what was giving to them. When their father died Reynold and Louis pounced on their step mother and secured the services of Lawyer A.M Bangura who is popularly known as “LEGAL B” and with Lawyer AM Bangura around things worked out for them very well, especially when funds from a Lebanese businessman called Mohammed Skaiky was always made available to them. Mrs. Jarrett did not only suffer the brunt of poverty and lack of support, but also suffered injustice in the hands of a district judge who used his position as a trial judge to change justice to injustice and the product of his action benefitted both Reynold and Louis. Mrs Nyamu Jarrett was scorned at and became a laughing stock in the City of Bo, until she decided to take her case to the Court of Appeal where she was able to secure justice on the 27th March, 2017. At the Court of Appeal, after listening to the judgment, she wept and said “behold there is justice in Sierra Leone” She praised the three judges who presided over her matter and called them “Daniel in Judgement” quoting portions from the Book of Merchant of Venice by Julius Ceaser. The three Judges are Hon. Mrs Justice V.M Solomon (JSC), Hon. Mr. Justice M.F Deen- Tarawallie(JA) and Hon. Mr. Justice A.S. Sesay (JA). Lawyer S. Kabbah Koroma of Sanda Chambers represented the Appellant, Mrs Nyamu Jarrett and Lawyer A.M Bangurah represented the Respondents Reynold and Louis Jarrett)

JUDGMENT
BACKGROUND/PLEADINGS:

1. The appellant herein commenced this matter in the Magistrate Court in Bo for the ejectment of the respondents pursuant to Cap 49 of the Laws of Sierra Leone from property situate at No. 27 Dambala Road, Bo (hereinafter called “The Property”). The appellant is the step mother of the respondents. She was married to the respondents’ father in 2003. The respondents are claiming ownership to the property by a deed of gift dated 20th August 1998 – as seen in pages 96 – 1-2 of the records. Her late husband Albert Williamson Jarrett (hereinafter called “The Deceased”) acquired his title by an indenture dated 21st December 1977. The deceased assigned the reversion of his interest to the appellant by an indenture dated 26th March, 2012 as seen in pages 82 – 90 of the records. The deed of assignment was witnessed by one Hassan Kpaka who identified his signature and was a witness PW3 in the proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court. The appellant was not aware of the deed of gift to the respondents. The deceased testified on behalf of the appellant in the Magistrate’s Court. He denied conveying by gift the property to the respondents. He confirmed that the appellant purchased the property from the Moriba Family and admits signing the deed of assignment to the appellant and that Hassan Kpaka PW3 witnessed the deed. Under cross-examination he agreed that Mr. E.E.C. Shears-Moses is his lawyer and that he had prepared documents for his daughter Thelma in Freetown.
2. The respondents herein called one Charles Coker a civil servant who testified that he witnessed the deed of gift prepared by Mr. Shears Moses. He appended his name, occupation and address but did not sign the deed. He was the only witness of fact to testify on behalf of the respondents. The latter did not testify. Mr. E.E.C. Shears-Moses Esq. did not testify but prepared an affidavit in pages 41 – 42 of the records. The deceased also filed an affidavit. He denied executing the deed of gift to the respondents. His affidavit. He denied executing the deed of gift to the respondents. His affidavit was witnessed by Hassan Kpaka (DW3) seen in pages 48-51 of the records.
The Magistrate entered judgment for the appellant.
3. The respondents herein filed an appeal in the High Court which grounds are set out in page 152 of the records to wit:
1. That his worship misconstrued the legal effects of a deed of gift and the law conveyancing;
2. That his worship erred in law by holding that a Donor can withdraw a gift after execution and registration of the deed granting the said gift;
3. That his worship erred in law in holding that the doctrine of first in time is first in law does not apply to Deeds of gift;
4. That the lower court presided over by his worship was absolutely bereft of jurisdiction to have entertained the matter;
5. That there was no landlord or tenant relation between the Appellants and respondent herein; and
6. That the decision of the Magistrate is unreasonable and against the weight of the evidence.

The appellant therein being dissatisfied with the decision in the High Court appealed to the Court of Appeal on the following grounds to wit:

A) That the Learned Judge erred in law and in fact when he declared null and void and expunged the conveyance of the Appellant who is also the bonafide purchaser of the property measuring 0.4128 Acre situate at 27A and 27B Dambala Road, Bo in which the subject matter of the Ejectment proceedings covering only 0.2090 Acre is also located.
B) That the Learned Judge was wrong to disregard or failed to consider the totality of the evidence adduced by the Appellant (then Applicant in the Magistrate Court) by setting aside the decision of the Magistrate Court granting immediate possession of 27A and 27B Dambala Road to the Appellant.
C) That the Learned Judge was wrong in law and in fact when he declared null and void and expunged the conveyance of the Appellant dated 26th day of March 2012 for which there is or was no evidence of fraud perpetrated by the Appellant (as bona fide purchaser) nor by the property owners (as owners) at the time of execution of Appellant’s title to the said property.
D) That the Learned Judge was wrong when he failed to avert his mind to the fact that the Respondents’ purported Deed of Gift dated 20th August 1998 was void ab initio in that the purported Donor had categorically denied under oath not making the said Deed of Gift and also admitted that the property was a lease which could only be transferred by a valid consent of Kakua Chiefdom council and the Property owners assenting to such transfer.
E) That the learned Judge was wrong in law and in fact to grant the Respondents the right to freely occupy 27A Dambala Road, Bo initially leased by the Appellants husband and which said lease had expired and the reversionary validly bought by the Appellant (a bona fide purchaser) from the landowners with the consent of the Kakua Chiefdom Council and the Senior District Officer.
F) That the Judgment is against the weight of evidence.

4. The High Court sitting as an appellant court did not adduce evidence, but visited the locus sine quo and judgment was delivered for the respondents herein setting aside the judgment of the learned Magistrate with several other orders which with great respect to the Learned Judge do not fall within the ambit of the summary Ejectment Cap 49 of the Laws of Sierra Leone 1960. The 3rd, 4th and 5th orders clearly do fall outside the ambit of a Cap 49 proceeding, to wit:

“3. That an injunction is hereby granted against the respondent herein restraining her whether by herself, agents, privy, workmen or any person claiming under her.

4. That the Deed of Conveyance and Assignment both dated 26th March 2012 being outside and not in conformity with Head lease of 21st December 1977 be and are hereby declared null and void and expunged from records kept in the Administrator and Registrar – General’s office.

5. That the sum of Le 8 Million Leones as large as it may be compared to 10 cents as annual pepper corn be retained by the chiefdom council as sum which should now go towards satisfying that obligation for generations yet unborn as pepper corn rent for all premises situate within 27 Dambala Road, Bo, including 27A Dambala Road Bo and that the same be brought to the notice of the District Office and Chiefdom authorities.”

Even the Learned Magistrate went out of his jurisdiction in his determination whether rightly or wrongly the Deeds of Gift as presented by the parties. The dispute between the parties does not fall within Cap 49. It is for determination on the validity of the titles of the parties. Such proceedings can only be commenced in the High Court, and not the Magistrate’s Court. The parties have wasted a lot of time and resources commencing this ejectment matter sometime in October 2012 and then appealing to the appellant jurisdiction of the High Court.

I must state here that it is the duty of counsel to properly advice their clients and to protect their interests. The counsels for both parties have not done so. A lot of time and money have gone into the proceedings in the Magistrate Court and High Court as an appellate court which have not determined the dispute between the parties.

In the premises therefore, after due consideration of the proceedings in the Magistrate’s Court and High Court, this court is of the view that the respective titles of the parties ought to be determined in a full trial in the High Court. The judgments of the High Court dated 12th March 2015 and of the Magistrate Court dated 12th August, 2014 are hereby set aside. Either party is at liberty to commence fresh proceedings in the High Court in Bo for determination of their respective titles. Each party to bear its costs

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