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HOW TO PROVE LAND BY TRADITIONAL HISTORY

Dictum

It is well settled that one of the five ways of establishing a claim for declaration of title to land is by traditional evidence. See Idundun v. Okumagba (1976) 9-10 SC, 227. It is also settled that once the traditional evidence is found to be conclusive and cogent, there would be no need whatsoever to require further proof. See Akinyili v. Ejidike (1996) 5 NWLR (Pt. 449) 181 at 417; Balogun v. Akanji (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt. 70) 301; Amajideogu v. Ononaku (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 78) 614. But the traditional evidence must be such as to be consistent and properly link the plaintiff with the traditional history relied upon. See Owoade v. Omitola (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 77) 413. Also a plaintiff who seeks declaration of title to land must prove his root of title to the land. If he traces his title to a particular person, it is not enough to stop there. He must go further to prove how that person got his own title or came to have the title vested in him including where necessary the family that originally owned the land. See Thomas v. Preston Holder 12 WACA 78; Ajibona v. Kolawole (1996) 10 NWLR (Pt. 476) 22.

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

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LAND WILL CONTINUE TO BE HELD BY THE PERSON IN WHOM IT IS VESTED BEFORE LAND USE ACT COMMENCEMENT

It is common ground that the land in dispute over which Exhibit B was issued in favour of the plaintiff is within the urban area of Ibadan. It is not in dispute that it is developed land within the provisions of section 5(1) of the of the Land Use Act 1978. Accordingly, pursuant to section 34(2) of the Land Use Act, the land in dispute shall continue to be held by the person in whom it was vested immediately before the commencement of the Land Use Act on the 29th March, 1978 as if such person was the holder of a statutory right of occupancy issued to him by the Governor under the Act.

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

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LAND AND THE QUIC QUID PLANTATUR SOLO SOLO CEDIT

Let me add to the vexed definitions of land the Roman maxim which found its way into the English common Law quic quid plantatur solo, solo cedit (whatever is affixed to the soil, belongs to the soil) while the judicial and academic conflict of opinion rages whether that maxim of English Common law is also a rule of Nigerian customary law. While that debate subsists, the better view on the authorities of Santeng v. Darkwa 6 WACA 52 and Moore v. Jones 7 NLR 84 appears that it is not. Be that as it may, it must be borne in mind that this maxim is not an immutable rule of law because a lot depends on the fixture attached to the ground or building. See Adeniji v. Ogunbiyi 1965 NMLR 395. The above definitions of land, including the maxim in respect thereto, show the increasing difficulty in determining the legal conception of land, and the final word in this regard. No doubt, even to the laymen today, land no longer means the ordinary ground with its subsoil, but surely includes buildings and trees growing thereon. for the court in any circumstance, therefore, to exclude the structures and objects, like buildings and trees standing on the ground in the connotation of the term “land” it must be shown to be clearly discernible from the content of the executed or written document.

— Achike, JSC. Unilife v. Adeshigbin (2001) 4 NWLR (Pt.704) 609

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STATE LANDS ARE FOR PUBLIC PURPOSES – SUCH LANDS ARE HELD IN TRUST

Their powers under the law are limited to leasing them to diverse persons, and accepting forfeitures and surrenders of leases. There appears to be substance in this contention. State lands in Nigeria invariably originate from compulsory acquisitions of such lands from individuals or communities for public purposes. Such lands are held in trust by the acquiring government for use for the public purpose for which the land was acquired and in accordance with the public policy of the state as enshrined in the laws of the state.

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

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COMPENSATION FOR REVOCATION UNDER THE LAND USE ACT

Compensation under sub-section (1) of section 28 of the Act would be as respects:- (a) the land for an amount equal to the rent if any paid by the occupier during the year in which the right of occupancy was revoked, i.e. 1979; (b) buildings, installation or improvements thereon for the amount of the replacement cost of the building, installation or improvement, that is to say, such cost as may be assessed on the basis of the prescribed method of assessment as determined by the appropriate officer less any depreciation together with interest at the bank rate of delayed payment of compensation and in respect of any improvement in the nature of reclamation works being such cost thereof as may be substantiated by documentary evidence and proof to the satisfaction of the appropriate officer; (c) crops on land apart from any building, installation or improvement thereon, for an amount equal to the value as prescribed and determined by the appropriate officer.

— Obaseki, JSC. Foreign Finance Corp. v Lagos State Devt. & Pty. Corp. & Ors. (1991) – SC. 9/1988

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WHEN TWO COMPETING HISTORIES ARE CONTRADICTORY IN LAND MATTERS

In Kojo II v. Bonsie (1957) 1 W.L.R. 1223 it was held that- “Where there is a conflict of traditional history which had been handed down by words of mouth one side or the other must be mistaken, yet both may be honest in their belief. In such a case, the demeanour of witnesses is of little guide to the truth. The best way is to test the traditional history by reference to facts in recent years as established by evidence and by seeing which of the two competing histories is more probable.”

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ALL LANDS VESTED IN MILITARY GOVERNOR

The control and management of all land in the state, apart from the land vested in the President, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces, is therefore vested either in the Military Governor or the Local Government and while the Military Governor has power to grant statutory right of occupancy in respect of any land [see section 5(1)(a)] the Local Government has power to grant customary right of occupancy in respect of land not in an urban area [see section 6(1)(a) and (b)].

– Obaseki, JSC. Savannah v. Ajilo (1989)

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