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FAMILY LAND CEASES WHERE THERE IS A PARTITION

Dictum

In the first place family land ceases to be such land on partition, – See Balogun v. Balogun (1943) 9 WACA 78. Thus if the Aige family, as in the instant case partitioned its land and granted any portion to any branch of the family, the grant so made ceases to be Aige family land, but is now the land of the person or persons to whom the grant has been granted.

— A.G. Karibi-Whyte, JSC. Olowosago V. Adebanjo (SC.134/86, 29 Sep 1988)

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WHERE OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS CONTRIBUTE TO BUILDING A PARTICULAR INDIVIDUAL LAND

In Ollennu, J. in Boafo v. Staudt (1958) “By native custom, where one member of the family acquires land for himself with his own money as his individual property and other members of the family develop that land with their own money or labour by building on it or farming it, the property immediately acquires the character of family property and ceases to be the individual or exclusive property of the member who purchased the land with his own money. Because the land in its developed state is the result of the combined contribution of members of the family it cannot in its entirety be the product or achievement of any single one of the members of the family who contributed to make it what it is. The purchaser and each of those who developed it have life interests in it. The purchaser of the land can together with all who developed it dispose of the whole estate in it without reference to the head and other members of the family. But upon the death of the member who bought the land or upon the death of any one of the members who developed it, the property becomes full family property with all the incidents of family property.”

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MANAGEMENT BY THE WHITE CAP CHIEF

If the appellant is entitled to exercise the usual powers of the Chief or family head in the management of the family property, he is also entitled to the relief he asks for, since it is not pretended that the settlement enables the respondents, or the family council less the Chief, to dispose of the family property without the consent of the Chief. If, on the other hand, the appellant is not entitled to exercise any powers of management over the family property then he cannot obtain any relief, whatever the effect of the settlement may be. If this view is correct, the only question which the Court has to decide is whether the appellant has the usual powers of the Chief or family head.

– Brett F.J. Ajibola v. Ojora (1961)

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UNPARTITIONED FAMILY LAND

It is trite that an unpartitoned family land is prima facie family land. And a holder of such unpartitioned family land cannot devise same to his children; See OKE v. OKE (1974) ALL N.L.R.401.

– Denton West JCA. Salaja v. Salaja (2013)

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ONLY SONS INHERITING PROPERTY IS REPUGNANT

Appellants had relied on their customs, to say that only biological sons of a family can inherit their fathers landed property. Of course, such old and oppressive laws in Igbo land have since been reviewed by case law, pursuant to Section 42 of the 1999 Constitution, as amended.

– Mbaba JCA. Aduba v. Aduba (2018)

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HEAVY BURDEN IS ON HE WHO ASSERTS AGAINST FAMILY LAND

Having found that the plaintiffs failed to prove either ownership or exclusive possession which they pleaded the court below ought to have held that they d id not prove their case and should have dismissed it. The onus of proof was on the plaintiffs. Moreover, it must be borne in mind that it has been established by a long line of decided cases that one of the incidents of our traditional communal ownership of land is that once it is admitted that a particular piece of land belongs to a family, the law places a rather heavy burden of proof on any person or group which asserts exclusivity of ownership or possession against the family or any person claiming through them. Mere evidence of occupation and user by a member of the family is not conclusive as against the family or a person who claims through the family.

— Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Adesanya v Otuewu (1993) – SC.217/1989

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PROPER SALE OF FAMILY LAND

The law is that family land can only be sold by the family head or Mogaji with the concurrence of principal members of the family.

– Ogunwumiju JCA. Awure v. Iledu (2007)

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