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

Dictum

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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OWNER OF LAND UNDER CUSTOMARY LAW REQUIRES CONSENT OF GOVERNOR TO ALIENATE

Land is still held under customary tenure even though dominium is in the Governor. The most pervasive effect of the Land use Act is the diminution of the plenitude of the powers of the holders of land. The character in which they hold remain substantially the same. Thus an owner at customary law remains owners all the same even though he no longer is the ultimate owner. The owner of land, now requires the consent of the Governor to alienate interests which hitherto he could do without such consent.

— Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Ogunola v. Eiyekole (1990) – SC.195/1987

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IDENTITY OF LAND

The issue of identity of the land in an action for declaration of title to land is very fundamental. The onus is on the plaintiff seeking the declaration to establish the precise identity of the land he is seeking the declaration.

– Musdapher JSC. Gbadamosi v. Dairo (2007)

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PART PERFORMANCE REQUIRES POSSESSION INTO LAND

Therefore, for the plaintiff to be able to rely on part performance, he must be the person who has been let into possession of land and allowed to alter his position for the worse by carrying out acts in performance of the contract. Equity then come to his aid arising from the changed position in which he finds himself.

– Uwaifo JSC. Ekpanya v. Akpan (1988)

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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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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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REVOLUTIONARY EFFECT OF THE LAND USE ACT

Since the promulgation of the Act by the Military Administration of General Obasanjo in 1978, the vast majority of Nigerians have been unaware of its revolutionary effect. They have been unaware that the Act swept away all the unlimited rights and interest they had in their lands and substituted them with very limited rights and rigid control of the use of their limited rights by the Military Governors and Local Governments. This appeal is probably one of the earliest of contested matters that will bring the revolutionary effect of the Act to the deep and painful awareness of many. The experience of disbelief and the ultra sensitivity to the irritating thoughts of loss of freedom to use one’s property without exploitative government control exhibited by the appellants’ counsel notwithstanding the fact remains that we must all appreciate the true legal position and bring it to the knowledge of the beneficiaries of rights and interest in land in each State of the Nigerian Federation. This will enable the steps necessary to bring the law in line with the wishes of Nigerians to be taken. Section 1 of the Act has made no secret of the intention and purpose of the law. It declared that land in each state of the Federation shall be vested in the Military Governor of each state to be held in trust for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians.

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

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