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ILLEGAL REVOCATION OF A STATUTORY RIGHT OF OCCUPANCY

Dictum

See Ibrahim v. Mohammed (2003) 6 NWLR (Pt.817) 615 at 645 where Kalgo, JSC put the position of the law thus – “It is not in dispute that in the instant appeal, the respondent was not notified by the Governor of the intended revocation of his earlier grant exhibit 1 before granting exhibit A8 (AI3) to the appellant. This is in clear contravention of section 28(6) of the Act, it was also not shown by evidence that the respondent’s land was required for public purposes or interest. The respondent was not heard before the grant of his land was made to the appellant and no compensation was offered or given to the respondent as required by the Act. It is my respective view therefore, that under these circumstances the grant of the statutory right of occupancy over the same piece or parcel of land to which the respondent had earlier been granted certificate of occupancy, was invalid, null and void.”

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CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY IS A PRESUMPTION OF EXCLUSIVE POSSESSION

It is settled law that a Certificate of Occupancy regularity issued by competent authority raises the presumption that the holder is the owner in exclusive possession of the land in respect thereof. The presumption is however rebuttable. But there is no evidence from the Appellant to rebut the presumption. As a matter of fact, the Appellants did not attack the Certificate of Occupancy.

— F.F. Tabai, JSC. Agboola v UBA (2011) – SC.86/2003

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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 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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CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY IS PRIMA FACIE EVIDENCE OF RIGHT OF OCCUPANCY

Exhibit D5 i.e the certificate issued by the Governor is simply a prima facie evidence of right of occupancy in his favour. However, such evidence is rebuttable. Title to land can only be vested by a holder of it if the latter has genuine or proper title to the property.

– Sanusi JCA. Enejo v. Nasir (2006)

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POSITION OF THE LAW WHERE TWO OR MORE PERSONS CLAIM A RIGHT OF OCCUPANCY OVER THE SAME LAND

“The law has been settled for long that where two or more persons claim title to land or a right of occupancy over the same land, the first in time takes priority as it is stronger in law. The latter grantee is deemed not to have been granted any title or right of occupancy. A grantor of title or right of occupancy cannot give title or right of occupancy to two persons, one must be valid, the other invalid. The law is trite one cannot grant title over a parcel of land and still be in legal position to grant such title to another. He would have no such title to grant to the latter grantee under the doctrine of “nemo dat quad non habet”. See FBB Ind. Ltd. v. Mutunci Co. (Nig.) Ltd. (2012) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1297) P. 487 @ 524; Omiyale v. Macaulay (2007) 7 NWLR (Pt. 1141) P. 597; Ibrahim v. Osunde (2009) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1137) P. 382; Ashiru v. Olukoya (2006) 11 NWLR (Pt. 990) P. 1 and Dantsoho v. Mohammed (2003) 6 NWLR (Pt. 817) P. 457.”

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

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AFTER LAND USE ACT, SHALL CONTINUE TO HOLD AS IF HE HAS CUSTOMARY RIGHT OF OCCUPANCY

Where developed land is not in urban area, the law is that the person in whom such land was vested before the Act came into commencement shall continue to have it vested in him as if he was a holder of a customary right of occupancy granted by a local government. It could therefore be seen that the Land use Act is not a magic wand it is being portrayed to be or a destructive monster that at once swallowed all rights on land and that the Governor or local government with mere issuance of a piece of paper, could divest families of their homes and agricultural lands overnight with a rich holder of certificate of occupancy driving them out with bulldozers and cranes. The law as it is that in areas not declared urban by a state government everybody remains where he has always been as if the new Act has vested in him a customary right of occupancy.

— Belgore, JSC. Ogunleye v Oni (1990) – S.C. 193/1987

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