THE NIGERIAN NATION
D. A. OBIOMAH
THE POLITICAL CAREER OF T. D. MAXWELL,
JUDGE OF WARRI LAND CASE
2.7 (a) T.D. Maxwell, Puisne Judge, who in 1925 set the ball rolling at the Warri High Court of first instance in Ogegede v. Dore Numa was the same T.D. Maxwell, Commissioner of Lands in 1906 App. 3 when the leases, the cause of action were concluded. Thus he was presiding over his own actions. It was the age of British jingoism, trickery, and truculence. The fact was not brought before A.F.C. Webber, J. or Donald Kingdon, C. J., SC or the Privy Council. Instead, visiting Mr. Bush of the Colonial Office was contacted to discuss Government's fears and anxiety in the appeal pending before the Privy Council. App. 4. Although T.D. Maxwell was appointed to the judicial Department as Crown Solicitor he served as a Political Officer.
2.7 (b) When the Warri leases were concluded in 1906, 1908, 1911 the Governor commanded all previous leaseholders from whatever lessors to surrender such leases within the area of the Government leases from Chief Dore and take fresh ones from the Government. By 1911 T.D. Maxwell had become a Police Magistrate in Lagos executing the fresh deeds. A Police Magistrate is a member of the Administration performing judicial offices in addition usually, to his normal office. T.D. Maxwell could therefore be said to be combining his work as Commissioner of Lands and as a Political Officer with Judicial work streamlining deeds of surrender. It would seem improper for the same T.D. Maxwell to come back on 5th November 1925 as Puisne Judge to hear Ogegede v. Dore Numa, setting the pace for the "concurrent findings of fact" for Webber J. and Donald Kingdon CJ. SC. On 5/11/25 when Ogegede v. Dore Numa came before T.D. Maxwell J. the Consent Judgment in Dore v. Olue, a case between two Itsekiris, was placed by permission of court, before pleas were taken as Exhibit 1. By this the issue was fait accompli. Ogegede objected and drew the ire of T.D. Maxwell. The assumption was that the lands for which rents were received by Dore came under the ambit of that judgment, a position amounting to bending justice to rationalise government action regarding the leases taken from Chief Dore which was a negation of the Treaty recognising Agbarha as owning territory. Agbarha Counsel withdrew from the case. Here was the beginning of the "concurrent findings of fact. "Secondly, overlordship hand in hand with loss of prime land effaced the social, economic and political independence of the Agbarha people. This Commission is urged to see Maxwell's unprovoked tirade against Ogegede from his background as a Political Officer, Commissioner of Lands, Police Magistrate executing deeds of surrender during the period material to Agbarha case. He had previous knowledge of the Warri leases. We pray the Commission to see T. D. Maxwell's irritation from this light. We urge the Commission to scrutinise the leases registered as No. 13/1911 at page 9 in Vol. 3 of the Lands registry in the office at Warri now kept in the Land Registry in the office at Benin and No. 56 at page 56 in Vol. 200, Lagos registry now kept in Lands Registry in Benin between Pessu and the Governor App. 5 & 6 and read along with them "Extract from Supplement to the Nigeria Gazette No. 102 of 5th November, 1925" App. 7 page 52-53. Should T.D. Maxwell have presided as a judge in a suit involving the same lands he organised for acquisition and whose leases by the Government he executed? Can Pessu. after all be the saint mentioned in the concurrent findings of fact? It should be noted that the Agbarha people are the only ones who have fought on and refused to take on lease lands that belonged to them. To this day we occupy free hold lands anywhere in Warri South Local Government Area and in Warri Town.
Separate Lands Department set up in August, 1906
(a) "relived the Survey Department of much that is properly extraneous to the Department, but naturally a great part of the year elapsed before the responsibilities in this direction became entirely transferred" (page 125 of Reports)...
(b) "Country Surveys"
"The Principal work carried out was the topographical survey of Western Province so far as contained within the limits of 60 and 80 latitude and the Western boundary of 50 East Longitude"
(c) "Surveys of Ibadan, Calabar, Onitsha, Warri and Sapele are also very necessary and with the country work in hand at present, it is doubtful if more than one of these can be carried out during the next year" (page 126)
T. D. MAXWELL
Southern Nigeria Civil Service List 1910.
Page 390 - JUDICIAL
Sub-heading 1 - The Western Province
at page 391 is this extract:
"At Lagos as also Calabar and Warri, in the Eastern and Central Provinces respectively there is stationed an officer called Police Magistrate, who has the same jurisdiction as a District Commissioner The general powers and jurisdiction of a Commissioner are defined by SS. 40 to 60 of Chapter 3 of the laws of the Colony.
"Appeals lie from the decision of the Commissioner to a Divisional Court, and from the Divisional Court to the "Full Court" that is, a Court of Appeal constituted by not less than two judges of the Supreme Court. The powers of the Full court are set forth in ss 31 - 35"
UNDER Sub-section SURVEY page 328 No name of T.D. Maxwell appears.
But at page 272 under subsection
JUDICIAL & LEGAL the following:-
"THOMAS DOVETON MAXWELL BA. (OXON) Barrister at Law. Born 1873.
Crown Solicitor, £500-20 - £6OO p.a. duty pay :
|11th August, 1902||Date of Appointment|
|5th Sept. 1902||Reported arrival in the Protectorate|
|12th Sept. 1902 to 12th Feb. 1903.||Assistant District Commissioner, Opobo.|
|13th Feb. 1903 to 13th July 1903||Ag. District Commissioner, Degema|
|13th Sept. 1903||Proceeded on leave|
|5th March, 1904||Resumed duty|
|26th March, 1904 to 19th May, 1905||Ag. District Commissioner Calabar.|
|26th Aug. to 10th Sept, 1904||Ag. Police Magistrate, Calabar|
|23rd Nov. to 27th Dec. 1904||Political and Transport Officer No.2 Column Ibibio Patrol|
|19th May, 1905||Proceed on leave|
|20th May, 1906||Resumed duty at Calabar as Ass. Secretary|
|19th April, to 8th August 1906||Ag. as Police Magistrate, Calabar|
|9th August 1906||Appointed Commissioner of Lands|
|18th Dec. 1906 to 27th Jan. 1907||On health trip|
|9th April. 1907||Proceeded on leave|
|22nd Sept. 1907 to 1st July, to 20th Sept. 1908|| Resumed duty.
Acting Police Magistrate. Lagos
|1st Sept. 1908 to 22nd Nov. 1908||Proceeded on leave|
|19th May, 1909||Resumed duty.|
Then at p. 178 of 1912 SOUTHERN NIGERIA HANDBOOK under sub-heading
Police Magistrate (3) £500 - 600 (R.J.B. Rose
Proceed To Appendix C: Urhobo-Itsekiri Feud: The Warri Question