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ONCE MORTGAGE ALWAYS MORTGAGE

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An important feature of mortgages both legal or equitable is that once a mortgage always a mortgage and nothing but a mortgage. – Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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A MORTGAGEE IS NOT A TRUSTEE OF A POWER OF SALE FOR THE MORTGAGOR

The purchaser ought to have been made a party to this suit in view of the reliefs of the plaintiff to declare the sale null and void and consequently to set it aside. Any order made in favour of the plaintiff will adversely affect the purchaser. It is also pertinent that where there is prayer to set aside an auction sale, the court must remember that it is settled law that a mortgagee is not a trustee of a power of sale for the mortgagor except for the balance of the purchase money. It is a power given to him for his own benefit, enabling him to protect the mortgage debt. A purchaser who bought a property sold by a legal mortgage in exercise of his power of sale under a mortgage upon a default and repayment of a loan by the mortgagor is not a trespasser. All State Trust Bank v. Nsofor (2004) All FWLR Pt. 201, Pg. 7719 Union Bank of Nigeria v. Ozigi (1991) 2 NWLR Pt. 176, Pg. 677.

— O.O. Adekeye, JSC. Agboola v UBA (2011) – SC.86/2003

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IN LEGAL MORTGAGE PROPERTY IS TRANSFERRED TO THE MORTGAGEE SUBJECT TO REDEMPTION

In a legal mortgage, title to the property is therefore transferred to the mortgagee subject to the proviso that the mortgage property would be reconveyed by the mortgagee to the mortgagor upon the performance of the conditions stipulated in the mortgage deed and upon payment of the debt at the time stipulated therein. In other words, the mortgagor is liable to repay the loan as stipulated; otherwise the mortgaged property is foreclosed. See BANK OF NORTH V. BELLO (2000) 7 NWLR (prt 664) 244, ADETONA V. ZENITH INTERNATIONAL BANK PLC (2011) 18 NWLR (prt 1278) 627 and ATIBA IYALAMU SAVINGS & LOANS LTD V. SUBERU (2018) 13 NWLR (prt 1637) 387 at 414.

— M.L. Shuaibu, JCA. FBN v Benlion (2021) – CA/C/31/2016

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ATTRIBUTES OF A LEGAL MORTGAGE

The main attributes of a legal mortgage are:- (a) a covenant to pay the principal debt and interest on a given date; (b) a covenant to pay interest in the event of default in payment of the principal on the day named; (c) the demise or sub-demise of, or the charge by way of legal mortgage on the mortgaged property; (d) the proviso for cesser; and (e) Such variations of the statutory provisions with regard to mortgages, as the arrangement between the parties requires.

– Augie JSC. Bank v. TEE (2003)

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EQUITABLE MORTGAGE FIRST IN TIME TAKES PRIORITY

I have earlier set out the peculiar factors and circumstances not least being that the appellant has paid part of the purchase price of ₦2.3m to the tune of ₦1.8m leaving a balance of ₦500,000.00 and has been put in possession of the disputed property. There is a binding agreement of sale of the 1st respondent’s interest in the said property between the appellant and the 1st respondent. The appellant has thereby acquired an equitable interest to the extent of the 1st respondent’s interest in the equity of redemption and this is the interest which the mortgagor, the 1st respondent has had at all material times. The 1st respondent cannot give what it hasn’t got. And as I intimated earlier any attempt to pass the legal estate in the disputed property to the appellant will be of no effect and void not voidable because the 1st respondent as the mortgagor has bound itself to convey the legal estate to the mortgagee whenever it is called upon to do so until the principal, interest and costs are duly paid on the mortgage. See: Barclays Bank of Nigeria Ltd v. Ashiru and Anor. (supra) per ldigbe JSC, and Jared v. Clements (1903) 1 Ch. 428. Besides, the appellant is acquainted with notice of the mortgage and so cannot take priority to the 2nd respondent’s equitable mortgage which is first in time. – Chukwuma-Eneh JSC. Yaro v. Arewa CL (2007)

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WHERE MORTGAGE IS BY CHARGE

In other words where the mortgage is by way of charge, and not by conveyance, the mortgagee takes no estate whatsoever in the land or in the property but he has generally only an equitable interest to be enforced by sale upon an order of court. The equitable charge simpliciter only gives a right to payment out of the property; it does not amount to an agreement to give a legal mortgage at all. The strict mode of enforcing the charge is, however, by sale (or appointment of a receiver under an order of court) but never by foreclosure. On the other hand where, as here, the agreement is to create a legal mortgage when required following a default in the terms of the agreement, the agreement may be enforced according to its terms notwithstanding that the legal mortgage when executed will also confer on the mortgagee an immediate power of sale.

– Idigbe JSC. Ogundiani v. Araba (1978)

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READY BUILT HOUSES TO BE PAID FOR INSTALLMENTALLY ARE MORTGAGES

I will have to state clearly that the statutory corporations, with authority to build houses and sell on terms to people who otherwise would be unable to build on their own, are in someway mortgages to the buyers. But instead of outright loan to the buyer they provide ready built houses to be paid for on certain terms. The terms range according to the laid down policy of each corporation. Some require a certain percentage of the full price to be paid as first deposit and the remainder to be paid in certain instalments. They are in some cases flexible as to time but in most cases spell out when and how to liquidate the full price. All these terms are without prejudice to mortgagor’s right to pay the full price outright; or if he defaults for just a few days or even weeks in a reasonable way he still retains his equity of redemption, i.e. even if the contractual date had passed. Howard V Harris (1683) 1 Vern 190; Spurgeon V Collier (1578) 1 Eden 55; Jennings V Ward (1705) 5 Vern 520. What found its way into our statutes is no more than the historical Common Law Practice of protecting the weak borrowing from the overbearing lender. Once the lender (mortgagee) was adequately protected to recover his money in full plus interest at reasonable time even if somewhat outside the contracted period the mortgagor’s equity of redemption should not be vitiated. What is essentially a mortgage in this case is dressed up as a conveyance with the right to withhold possession from the mortgagor until he liquidated the debt; but should he fail to liquidate by unreasonably defaulting in payment and was in arrears for long the mortgagee’s right of foreclosure should also not be vitiated.

— Belgore, JSC. A.S.H.D.C. v Emekwue (1996) – SC. 282/1989

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