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DEEMED HOLDER OF RIGHT OF OCCUPANCY

Dictum

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

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WHERE TWO CERTIFICATES OF OCCUPANCY ARE ISSUED OVER THE SAME LAND

“The certificate of occupancy issued in 2008 supersedes and takes priority over the one issued in 2011. Where two persons trace their root of title to the same source, the earlier in time prevails. See Ejuetam v. Olaiya (2001) RSCNl P. 140 @ 168.”

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

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CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY IS NOT CONCLUSIVE PROOF OF RIGHT OF OCCUPANCY

I think the point must be stressed that a certificate of statutory or customary right of occupancy issued under the Land Use Act, 1978 cannot be said to be conclusive evidence of any right, interest or valid title to land in favour of the grantee. It is, at best, only a prima facie evidence of such right, interest or title without more and may in appropriate cases be effectively challenged and rendered invalid and null and void. See Lababedi v. Lagos Metal Industries (Nig.) Ltd. (1973) NSCC 1 at 6.

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

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CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY GRANTED TO ONE WHO HAS NO BETTER TITLE CONTRADICTS THE LAND USE ACT

As the position was explained by this court in Ogunleye v. Oni (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt.135) 745 at 752,774 – 786: “This is the weakness of a certificate of occupancy issued in such a case. It is never associated with title. Thus, 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.”

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CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY IS PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OF R of O

Wakama v. Kalio (supra), Musdapher JCA (as he then was) had this to say on pages 130/131: “The mere fact that a certificate of occupancy is issued by the Governor does not automatically vest the leasehold thereby created in favour of the person named. A certificate is only a prima facie evidence of the right of occupancy in favour of the person named as allottee. Thus any person without title to a parcel of land in respect of which a certificate of occupancy is issued acquired no right or interest.”

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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

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PRESUMPTION RAISED BY CERTIFICATES OF OCCUPANCY

“Being certificates of occupancy, they raise presumption that the person named therein is the holder of title thereof. See Mani Vs Shanono (2007) ALL FWLR (PT. 724) P. 305 @ 318.” — I.S. Bdliya, JCA. Umar Ibrahim v Nasiru Danladi Mu’azu & 2 Ors. (2022) – CA/G/317/2019

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