Judiciary-Poetry-Logo
JPoetry

CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY IS PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OF RIGHT OF OCCUPANCY

Dictum

Exhibit D5 i.e the certificate issued by the Governor is simply a prima facie evidence of right of occupancy in his favour. However, such evidence is rebuttable. Title to land can only be vested by a holder of it if the latter has genuine or proper title to the property.

– Sanusi JCA. Enejo v. Nasir (2006)

Was this dictum helpful?

SHARE ON

A GOVERNOR CAN DEFINITELY REVOKE A C OF O

On the issue of revocation, the Governor definitely has power to revoke a certificate of occupancy for (1) a breach of the provisions which a certificate of occupancy is by section 10 deemed to contain; (2) a breach of any term contained in the certificate of occupancy or in any special contract made under section 8. See section 28(5) (a) & (b) Land Use Act, 1978.

— Obaseki, JSC. Foreign Finance Corp. v Lagos State Devt. & Pty. Corp. & Ors. (1991) – SC. 9/1988

Was this dictum helpful?

DEEMED HOLDER OF RIGHT OF OCCUPANCY

The land in dispute being developed land before the Land Use Act came into force, who ever had it vested in him then was deemed to have continued to hold the land after the commencement of the Act as if he was the holder of a statutory right of occupancy issued by the Governor under S.5 of the Act. It then follows that no other person can be granted a right of occupancy unless S. 28 of the Act is complied with. Any right of occupancy otherwise purportedly granted is contrary to the provisions of the Act and will be of no validity. See Teniola v. Olohunkun (1999) 5 NWLR (Pt.602) 280. It will be set aside by the court in an appropriate case, or be discountenanced when relied on as against a subsisting holder or deemed holder of a right of occupancy.

— Uwaifo, JSC. Olohunde v. Adeyoju (2000) – SC.15/1995

Was this dictum helpful?

CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY GRANTED TO ONE WHO HAS NOT PROVED A BETTER TITLE

It must be noted that the Land Use Act never set out to abolish all existing titles and rights to possession of land. Rather, where such rights or titles relate to developed lands in urban areas, the possessor or owner of the right or title is deemed to be a statutory grantee of a right of occupancy under section 34(2) of the Act. Where it is non-urban land, the holder or owner under customary law or otherwise is deemed to be a deemed grantee of a right of occupancy by the appropriate Local Government under section 36(2). This court re-affirmed this position in the case of Dzungwe v. Gbishe & Anor. (1985) 2 N.W.L.R. (Part 8) 528 at p.540. So, in a case like the instant, the issue is often who proved a better title or right to possess the land. Where, as in this case, a certificate of occupancy has been granted to one of the claimants who has not proved a better title, then it has been granted against the letters and spirit of the Land Use Act. The courts cannot close their eyes to the weakness of his case for entitlement to it and hold that his weak title has been strengthened by the grant of the certificate of occupancy. Indeed a certificate of occupancy properly issued under section 9 of the Land Use Act ought to be a reflection and an assurance that the grantee has to be in occupation of the land. Where it is shown by evidence that another person had a better right to the grant, the court will have no alternative but to set aside the grant, if asked to do so, or otherwise to ignore it.

— Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Ogunleye v Oni (1990) – S.C. 193/1987

Was this dictum helpful?

CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY IS A PRESUMPTION OF TITLE – BETTER TITLE REBUTS IT

In other words, a certificate of occupancy properly issued by a competent authority raises the presumption that the holder is the owner in exclusive possession of the land in respect thereof. Such a certificate also raises the presumption that at the time it was issued there was not in existence a customary owner whose title has not been revoked. The presumption is however rebuttable because if it is proved by evidence that another person had better title to the land before the issuance of the certificate of occupancy then the court can revoke it. See Osazuwa v. Oji (1999) 13 NWLR (Pt. 634) 286. See also Atta vs. Ezeanah (2001) FWLR (Pt. 49) 1489, (2000) 11 NWLR (Pt. 678) 363; Shogo vs. Adebayo (2000) 14 NWLR (Pt. 686) 121.

— N. Tobi, JSC. Ezennah v Atta (2004) – SC.226/2000

Was this dictum helpful?

PARTY WITH A BETTER TITLE WILL DEFEAT PARTY WHO HAS A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY

Where a certificate of occupancy has been granted to one of two claimants who has not proved a better title, it must be deemed to be defective and to have been granted or issued erroneously and against the spirit of the Land Use Act and the holder of such a certificate would have no legal basis for a valid claim over the land in issue. So, too, where it is shown by evidence that another person other than the grantee of a certificate of occupancy had a better right to the grant, the court may have no option but to set aside the grant or otherwise discountenance it as invalid, defective and/or spurious as the case may be. See Joshua Ogunleye v. Oni (supra), Dzungwe v. Gbishe and Another (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt.8) 528 at 540. For a certificate of occupancy under the Land Use Act, 1978 to be therefore valid, there must not be in existence at the time the certificate was issued, a statutory or customary owner of the land in issue who was not divested of his legal interest to the land prior to the grant.

— Iguh, JSC. Olohunde v. Adeyoju (2000) – SC.15/1995

Was this dictum helpful?

THE WEIGHT OF A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY

It is settled law that a certificate of occupancy is only a prima facie evidence of title or right of occupancy in favour of the person whose name is on the certificate of occupancy. Where a rebuttal is raised on that presumption, the trial court is bound to examine all the surrounding circumstances, including the nature of competing claims, why the certificate of occupancy is issued in that person’s name and any other issues of law or fact on why a rebuttal of that presumption is raised.

– Bulkachuwa, JSC. Atta v. Ezeanah (2000)

Was this dictum helpful?

No more related dictum to show.