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SEVEN LANDLORDS MUST NOT NEED OCCUPATION

Dictum

Why must the seven landlords who were the plaintiffs in the case need the occupation of the single ground floor flat before they can recover possession of the flat. If that is the law, it is a law devoid of human face, human reason and common sense. I shall not project such a law.

– Ubaezonu JCA. Coker v. Adetayo (1992)

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TENANT HAS EXCLUSIVE POSSESSION OF LAND GIVEN TO HIM BY A FAMILY

I find myself unable to accept that a tenant given a parcel of land and put in possession by a family to farm has no exclusive possession of the land for the duration of his grant. The idea of giving out farmland in parcels and putting allottees or tenants in possession of their respect parcels is to give them exclusive possession to their respective parcels of land notwithstanding any easement that may be available. Without revocation of the grant, the use to which the land was put by consent, i.e. farming, cannot be disturbed without attracting liability in damages for trespass. The action filed by the plaintiffs/respondents by itself is eloquent testimony to the fact that no one is allowed to disturb the possession of land given to the tenant by the family. Also if a tenant’s possession is disturbed, our 1963 Constitution and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1979 as the laws of the land give him a right to sue for redress.

– Obaseki, JSC. Ekpan v. Agunu (1986)

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WHERE LAND TITLE HOLDER DIVEST HIMSELF OF POSSESSION

I agree that where two persons claim possession at the same time that is the correct proposition of law as there is nothing like concurrent possession of land by two persons. If the party who has a better title has divested himself of possession in favour of a third party he has no possession which can be disturbed by mere entry and which will entitle him to sue for damages for trespass.

– Obaseki, JSC. Ekpan v. Agunu (1986)

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TERMINATION OF STATUTORY TENANCY

In point of law and of fact, once there is an incident of statutory tenancy, the tenant becomes a weekly, monthly or yearly tenant, depending upon the term of the original grant. As it is so, his tenancy can only be lawfully terminated in accordance with the manner and length of term of the original grant between the landlord and the tenant.

– Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Petroleum v. Owodunni (1991)

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REVERSIONARY INTEREST CANNOT BE SOLD WHEN ANOTHER IS IN POSSESSION

It appears to me to be the law that a reversioner, such as the 2nd respondent, cannot sell his reversionary interest, that is his particular estate, as fee simple while another person is in possession of the land. He must first either first recover possession from that other person in possession or sell his reversionary interest subject to that person’s possession. For what the reversioner has in such a case is the freehold reversion subject to the possession in another person and not a fee simple absolute free from incumberances. It must be noted that interests in land, whether legal or equitable, are carved out as it were on a plane of time. Any holder of a particular interest or estate who attempts to sell more than the quantum of his estate will be caught by the maxim: nemo dat quod non habet (no one can give or sell what he has not).

– Nnaemeka-agu, JSC. Ude v. Nwara (1993)

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WRIT OF SUMMONS REGULARISES DEFECTIVE NOTICE TO QUIT

The ruse of faulty notice used by tenants to perpetuate possession in a house or property which the land lord had slaved to build and relies on for means of sustenance cannot be sustained in any just society under the guise of adherence to any technical rule. Equity demands that wherever and whenever there is controversy on when or how notice of forfeiture or notice to quit is disputed by the parties, or even where there is irregularity in giving notice to quit, the filing of an action by the landlord to of the property has to be sufficient notice on the tenant that he is required to yield up possession. I am not saying here that statutory and proper notice to quit should not be given. Whatever form the periodic tenancy is whether weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly etc., immediately a writ is filed to regain possession, their regularity of the notice if any is cured. Time to give notice should start to run from the date the writ is served. If for example, a yearly tenant, six months after the writ is served and so on. All the dance drama around the issue of the irregularity of the notice ends.

– Ogunwumiju JSC. Pillars v. William (2021)

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PAYMENT OF PURCHASE PRICE WITH DELIVERY OF POSSESSION CAN OUST SUBSEQUENT ANY CONVEYANCE

I think the most devastating evidence to the case of the respondent is that the 2nd respondent handed over the keys of the premises to him and put him in possession. Payment of purchase price coupled with delivery of possession can oust any subsequent conveyance of the legal estate to any subsequent purchaser. A diligent purchaser will certainly find out that there is someone in possession and be served with notice of his interest.

— Obaseki, JSC. Osagie v. Oyeyinka & Anor. (1987) – SC.194/1985

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