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IMPROPER SALE DOES NOT VITIATE TITLE OF SUBSEQUENT PURCHASER

Dictum

I need to stress here that a mortgagee’s power of sale becomes exercisable if it has arisen and once it has so arisen, the title of the subsequent purchaser will not be affected by its improper or irregular exercise and the sale will be regarded valid. See MAJEKODUNMI & ORS V. CO-OP BANK LTD (1997) 10 NWLR (prt. 524) 198. But, in exercising the power of sale, a mortgagee is under duty to take reasonable care to obtain the true value of the property. See TEMCO ENG. & CO LTD V. S.B.N. LTD (1995) 5 NWLR (prt. 397) 607. However, a mortgagee will not be restrained on the exercise of his power of sale merely because the mortgagor objects to the manner in which the sale is being arranged or because the mortgagor has commenced a redemption action in Court, but he (mortgagee) will be restrained if the mortgagor pays the amount claimed by the mortgagee into Court.

— M.L. Shuaibu, JCA. FBN v Benlion (2021) – CA/C/31/2016

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PARTY MUST AS WELL ESTABLISH THE TITLE OF WHO HE TRACES TO

It is well settled that once a party pleads and traces his root of title in an action involving title to land to a particular person or source, and this averment, as in the present case, is disputed or challenged, that party, to succeed, as a plaintiff in the suit must not only establish his own title to such land, he must also satisfy the court on the validity of the title of that particular person or source from whom he claims to have derived his title. See Mogaji v. Cadbury Nigeria Ltd. (1985) 7 SC 59, (1985) 2 NWLR (pt.7) 393 at 431; Elias v. Omo-Bare (1982) 5 SC 25 at 37 – 38.

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

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DUTY OF A PLAINTIFF IN A CLAIM FOR DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND

“The law is settled, an appellant has the duty to prove his case based on preponderance of evidence. See Afolabi Vs Ola (2016) LPELR 40186 (CA). A plaintiff is not allowed to rely on the weakness of the respondent’s case in establishing his case. See Umeadi & Ors Vs Chibuze & Ors (2020) 3 SCM page 195 -196 para 1, A per Peter Odili, JSC where it was held
“The learned jurist and author said it is as it, and again it is, trite and quite settled that in a claim for a declaration of title of land, the onus is on the plaintiff to establish his claim upon the strength of his own case and not on the weakness of the case of the defendant. The plaintiff must therefore satisfy the court that, upon pleadings and evidence adduced by him he is entitled to the declaration sought.” —

I.S. Bdliya, JCA. Umar Ibrahim v Nasiru Danladi Mu’azu & 2 Ors. (2022) – CA/G/317/2019

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FIVE WAYS TITLE TO LAND COULD BE PROVED

Idundun v. Okumagba (1976) 9-10 SC 227; (1976) 1 NMLR 200, this court enumerated five ways in which title or ownership of land could be proved. These are: (1) By traditional evidence. (2) By production of documents of title duly authenticated and executed. (3) By acts of ownership extending over a sufficient length of time numerous and positive enough to warrant the inference of true ownership. (4) By acts of long possession and enjoyment, and (5) Proof of possession of connected or adjacent land in circumstances rendering it probable that the owner of such connected or adjacent land would, in addition, be the owner of the land in dispute.

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REQUIRED EVIDENCE TO PROVE TRADITIONAL HISTORY

What are the averments which a party relying on traditional histories or evidence must incorporate into their pleadings? The Supreme Court in Lebile v. The Registered Trustees of Cherubium and Seraphim Church of Zion of Nigeria, Ugbonla and Ors. (2003) 2 NWLR (Pt.804) 399 per the judgment of Uwaifo, J.S.C. provided the answer at pages 418/419 thus: “It cannot be too often said that a party who relies on traditional history (which a claim to the finding of a village or town implies) would need to plead the names of his ancestors to narrate a continuous claim of devolution, not allowing there to be any gap or leading to a prima facie collapse of the traditional history. The history must show how the land by a system of devolution eventually came to be owned by the plaintiff.”

– Aderemi JCA. Irawo v. Adedokun (2004)

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WHEN THERE ARE EQUAL EQUITIES IN A CLAIM FOR TITLE TO LAND

“The Appellant and the 3rd Respondent in this appeal were all claiming title to the subject property to wit: Right of Occupancy No. GM/14660 on plot E-43 on GDP/4 Layout situate at the City Center behind Federal Medical Center, Gombe. Both parties were claiming title to the land in dispute relying on the allocation made to them by the 1st and 2nd Respondents. Their title is therefore from the same source. The law in such a situation is settled, which is that, when the equities are equal the first in time will prevail and consequently be awarded title to the land. See Achilihu vs Anyatonwu (2013) 12 NWLR (pt 1368) 256.”

— E. Tobi, JCA. Umar Ibrahim v Nasiru Danladi Mu’azu & 2 Ors. (2022) – CA/G/317/2019

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PAYMENT OF PURCHASE PRICE GIVES THE PURCHASER AN EQUITABLE TITLE

Viewed even from the standpoint of the common law, payment of purchase price coupled with possession gives the purchaser an equitable title and he is entitled to seek an order of specific performance to compel the vendor to convey legal title to him. But where the purchaser price is not fully paid, the purchaser will have no right to enforce specific performance – see Hewe v. Smith (1884) 27 Ch D 89, a case relied on by the learned trial judge.

— M.E. Ogundare, JSC. Odusoga v Ricketts (1997) – SC.57/1990

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