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TRESPASS TO LAND IS ROOTED ON EXCLUSIVE POSSESSION

Dictum

Amakor v. Obiefuna (1974) 1 All N.L.R. (Part 1) at page 128 saying:- “Generally speaking, as a claim of trespass to land is rooted in exclusive possession, all a plaintiff need to prove is that he has exclusive possession, of the land in dispute. But once a defendant claims to be the owner of the land in dispute title to it is put in issue, and, in order to succeed, the plaintiff must show a better title than that of the defendant.”

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AN ACTION IN TRESPASS IS BASED ON EXCLUSIVE POSSESSION

An action In trespass Is based on exclusive possession of the land. See Mohammed Ojomu v. Salawu Ajao (1983) 9 S.C. 22; Amakor v. Obiefuna (1974) N.M.L.R. 331; (1974) 3S.C. 66. It lies against the whole world except one who can show a better title. See Aromire & Ors. v. Awoyemi (1972) 2 S.C. 1;...

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TRESPASS COULD BE PREVENTED WITH REASONABLE FORCE

I agree with the submission of the Chief Legal Officer that the proposition that extra-judicial measure cannot be used to recover possession of land is not an inflexible rule. I find to be particularly apposite the decisions in Umeobi v. Otukoya (supra), and Awojugbagbe v. Chinukwe (supra), which the learned counsel cited in buttress of...

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TRESPASS IS UNWARRANTED & UNJUSTIFIABLE ENTRY

Now, trespass is an unwarranted or unjustifiable entry or intrusion by one person upon land in possession of another. It does not depend on the intention of the trespasser. Nor can he plead ignorance as to true owner or that he thought the land belonged to him. It is enough that the right of the...

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POSSESSION IS NECESSARY TO SUCCEED FOR ACTION OF TRESPASS

In order to succeed in an action of trespass to land, plaintiff must prove and have present exclusive possessory title i.e. he must be in exclusive occupation. – Obaseki, JSC. Ekpan v. Agunu (1986) Was this dictum helpful? Yes 0 No 0...

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WHO IS NOT IN POSSESSION OF LAND CANNOT SUE FOR TRESPASS

As an academic proposition of law, anybody not in possession of land cannot sue for trespass to that particular piece of land. Also it is a correct statement of our law that a plaintiff cannot successfully maintain an action both for trespass to a particular piece of land and recovery of possession of the self...

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RATIONALE BEHIND TRESPASS TO LAND – WHERE AN ACT NOT SUPPORTED BY LAW

The great end, for which men entered into society, was to secure their property. That right is preserved sacred and incommunicable in all instances, where it has not been taken away or abridged by some public law for the good of the whole. The cases where this right of property is set aside by private law, are various. Distresses, executions, forfeitures, taxes etc are all of this description; wherein every man by common consent gives up that right, for the sake of justice and the general good. By the laws of England, every invasion of private property, be it ever so minute, is a trespass. No man can set his foot upon my ground without my licence, but he is liable to an action, though the damage be nothing; which is proved by every declaration in trespass, where the defendant is called upon to answer for bruising the grass and even treading upon the soil. If he admits the fact, he is bound to show by way of justification, that some positive law has empowered or excused him. The justification is submitted by the judges, who are to look into the books; and if such a justification can be maintained by the text of the statute law, or by the principles of common law. If no excuse can be found or produced, the silence of the books is an authority against the defendant, and the plaintiff must have judgment.

— Lord Camden in Entick v Carrington [1765] EWHC KB J98

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