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CANNOT SET UP A ROOT OF TITLE DIFFERENT FROM VENDOR

Dictum

The court below was therefore right, in my view, in holding that this could not be so in that 2nd Respondent who derived his title from the Respondent cannot set up a root of title different from that of his Vendor. He must either sink or swim with him, it being that a Vendor can only pass to the purchasers whatever title he has. See Fasoro v. Beyioku (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 76) 263.

— Dike & Ors. V. Francis Okoloedo & Ors. (SC.116/1993, 15 Jul 1999)

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PURCHASER OF REGISTERED LAND IS NOT AFFECTED BY NOTICE

Thus a purchaser of registered land is not affected with notice either actual or constructive, of any unregistered estate, interest or claim which affects the estate of his vendor. The estate of a first registered owner for value is free from unregistered estate, interest or claim affecting the land. It is not limited by any interest adverse to or in derogation of his title subsisting or capable of arising at the time of first registration. The plaintiff having tendered the documents enumerated above ought to have been declared owner of the parcel of land and if the courts below had appreciated the basic idea behind registration of title under cap, 166, Laws of Lagos State, 1994 and its incidents, their decisions would have been different. There is no way the defendants can successfully challenge the title of the plaintiff short of the rectification of the register in accordance with sections 60 and 61 of the law, Since that was not the case, the title of the plaintiff in respect of plots 89, 91 and 93 remains indefeasible.

— Ogwuegbu, JSC. Onagoruwa & Ors. v. Akinremi (2001) – SC.191/1997

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FIVE METHODS BY WHICH TITLE TO LAND MAY BE PROVED

In this regard, it is long settled that there are five methods by which ownership of land may be proved by a claimant. These are as follows: (i) By traditional evidence; (ii) By production of document of title which must be duly authenticated; (iii) By the exercise of numerous and positive acts of ownership over a sufficient length of time to warrant the inference that the person is the true owner of the land; (iv) By acts of long possession and enjoyment of the land; and (v) By 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. See Idundun & Ors v. Okumagba and Others (1976) N.S.C.C. 445, (1976) 9-10 SC 227 AT 249 or (1976) 1 NMLR 200.

— Iguh, JSC. Kyari v Alkali (2001) – SC.224/1993

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FIVE METHODS OF PROVING TITLE TO LAND

It is now well settled law that in a claim for declaration of title to land, a party claiming title to land must do so by proving with credible evidence one or more of the five methods of proving title to land, namely: A. Evidence of traditional history of title; B. Production of genuine and valid documents of title; C. Acts of Ownership numerous enough; D. Acts of possession over a long period of time and E. Act of possession of adjacent land long enough to make it probable that the owner of the adjacent land is also the owner of the land in dispute. The 1st Appellant and the 1st Respondent, thus had open to them one or more of the above five methods to prove their title to the land in dispute and the law is that proof of any of these methods by credible evidence would be sufficient to ground an action for declaration of title to land.

— B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Anyi & Ors. v. Akande & Ors. (2017) – CA/L/334/2014

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PROOF OF TITLE TO LAND BY TRADITIONAL HISTORY

One of these five methods or ways of proof of title is by traditional history of the land which includes modes of acquisition of same by deforestation of the virgin forest by the first settler and by proof of acts of long possession on and over the land in issue. — J.H. Sankey, JCA. Ibrahim Muli v Sali Akwai (2021) – CA/G/423/2019

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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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REGISTRABLE INSTRUMENT NOT REGISTERED CANNOT BE RELIED UPON TO PROVE TITLE

The crucial question to be answered in this appeal is what is the effect of the non-registration of Exhibits -E’ and ‘F which are registrable instruments within the provisions of section 2 of the Land Instruments Registration Law. There is a long and impressive judicial authority for the proposition that the non-registration of a registrable instrument renders such instrument inadmissible as evidence in a litigation where such instrument is relied upon as evidence of title. – See Abdallah Jammal v. Said; & Fetuga 11 NLR. 86. Elkali & anor. v. Fawaz 6 WACA. 212 at p. 214. Coker v. Ogunye (1939) 15 NLR. 57; Ogunbambi v. Abowab (1951) 13 WACA. 222. Amankra v. Zankley (1963) 1 All NLR. 364. Section 15 of the Lands Instrument Registration Law provides simply as follows – “No instrument shall be pleaded or given in evidence in any Court as affecting any land unless the same shall have been registered. Provided that a memorandum given in respect of an equitable mortgage affecting land in Eastern Nigeria executed before the 1st day of July, 1944, and not registered under this Law may be pleaded and shall not be inadmissible in evidence by reason only of not being so registered.”

— Karibe-Whyte JSC. Okoye v Dumez & Ors. (1985) – SC.89/1984

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