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MEANING OF “ANY PERSON” AS USED IN SECTION 36(1) OF LAND USE ACT MEANS ANY NIGERIAN

Dictum

It is my firm view therefore that the words “ANY PERSON” under section 36(1) of the Act refer to and mean ANY NIGERIAN. The Act has not abrogated any law which limits the rights of aliens to own property. I will however share the views of Omololu-Thomas, J.C.A. that any foreigner who has validly owned or occupied any land before the act is deemed to be an occupier under the act. This however must be in conformity with the definition of occupier under section 50 of the Land Use Act.

— Olatawura, JSC. Ogunola v. Eiyekole (1990) – SC.195/1987

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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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WHEN IDENTITY OF LAND BECOMES AN ISSUE IN LAND MATTERS

It is also now settled law that requires no citation of any authority, that the identity of land in a land dispute will only be in issue if and only if the defendant in his statement of defence makes it one. If he disputes specifically either the area or the location or the features shown in the plaintiff’s plan, then the identity of the land becomes an issue to be tried. In my view both the trial court and the Court of Appeal were right in their decision that the identity of the land in dispute was not an issue joined in the pleadings to be tried.

– 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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PROOF NOT NECESSARY WHERE IDENTITY OF LAND NOT IN DISPUTE

It is the general principle of law that a plaintiff who claims title to land must prove the identity of the land in dispute. This is to enable the court know the exact area or acreage of the land in dispute to give him judgment if he is able to prove title. However, where the identity of the land is not in dispute or where there is enough evidence for the court to infer the identity of the land, proof is not necessary. In such a situation, the plaintiff has no burden to prove the identity of the land. Of the two ways, the easier one is when the parties agree as to the identity of the land or they do not put the identity of the land in issue.

– Niki Tobi JSC. Gbadamosi v. Dairo (2007)

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DISTINCTION BETWEEN A HOLDER & OCCUPIER IN LAND LAW

The essential distinction which could be made between a “holder” and an “Occupier” as defined, is that whereas the former is a person entitled in law to a right of occupancy, the latter is not a person so entitled. The legal effect of the distinction is that an “occupier” will necessarily hold of a “holder” who would at the commencement of the Land Use Act be entitled to a customary right of occupancy. Hence, the fact that the “occupier” is in possession, and the “holder” is not, does not alter the true legal status of the parties.

– Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Abioye v. Yakubu (1991) – SC.169/1987

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LAND: WHERE DEFENDANTS ARE UNKNOWN

In a case where the landlord does not know the names of the illegal occupiers of his land or cannot even physically identify all of them, the requirement that the persons be made defendants to the action would result in great injustice and hardship to the landlord or land owner thus giving rise to the procedure under Order 50 – Nnodi v. Thanks Investment Ltd (2005) 11 NWLR (pt 935) 29.

– Abiru, JCA. Okoli v. Gaya (2014)

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