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LAND AND THE QUIC QUID PLANTATUR SOLO SOLO CEDIT

Dictum

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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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the land for an amount equal to the rent if any paid by the occupier during the year in which the right of occupancy was revoked, i.e. 1979; (b) buildings, installation or improvements thereon for the amount of the replacement cost of the building, installation or improvement, that is to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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HOW TO PROVE LAND BY TRADITIONAL HISTORY

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 CONTRACT MUST BE IN WRITING

Generally, a contract may be oral i.e., (by parol) or in writing. There are however some contracts which the law mandatorily imposes a written requirement for the enforceability of such contracts. One of such contracts is a contract for the sale of land.

– Amaizu, J.C.A. Adeniran v. Olagunju (2001)

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POOR DRAFTING OF THE LAND USE ACT

This case has once more highlighted the unnecessary difficulties created by lack of precision and inelegant drafting of statutes. The Land Use Act as a major legislation affecting the fortunes of every Nigerian leaves a lot to be desired in its drafting. The Land Use Act is an existing law and, as I declared in another forum earlier on last year, has come to stay with us. Laudable as the intention of the Act declared in the provisions of section 1 is, it is my opinion that it cannot be realised as long as the administrative provisions which deprive all Nigerians of the use and benefit of the land vested in the Military Governor remains. It is for Nigerians through their representatives (elected and non elected) to give detailed examinations to these provisions and make the necessary amendments to enable the Act achieve its laudable purpose.

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

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DAMAGE TO CROP GROWING ON LAND

It is a misconception to regard damage for crops growing on land as not belonging to a claim for trespass to land. Quic quid plantatur solo, solo cedit.

– Obaseki, JSC. Ekpan v. Agunu (1986)

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LAND USE FOR MARKET DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN IT IS A COMMUNAL LAND

The fact that land is used as a market does not necessarily mean that it is communal land. A market is no doubt a public place which may be an open space or a building where people go to buy and sell goods. But it does not follow from the fact that it is a public place that the market belongs to the community and not to an individual or a group of individuals. Even if the market is communally owned evidence as to the community which owns it must be forthcoming before one can come to the conclusion that it belongs to that community.

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

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