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PART PERFORMANCE REQUIRES POSSESSION INTO LAND

Dictum

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

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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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the land for an amount equal to the rent if any paid by the occupier during the year in which the right of occupancy was revoked, i.e. 1979; (b) buildings, installation or improvements thereon for the amount of the replacement cost of the building, installation or improvement, that is to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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LAND AND THE QUIC QUID PLANTATUR SOLO SOLO CEDIT

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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PLAINTIFF SHOULD ESTABLISH CLEARLY THE AREA OF LAND WHICH HIS CLAIM RELATES

I think it is an elementary requirement of our land law that the first duty of any plaintiff claiming from the court a declaration of title to land is to show clearly the area of land to which his claim relates:- Akinola Baruwa v. Ogunshola (1938) 4 W.A.C.A. 195. This duty a plaintiff can discharge, either by describing the land with such particularity that a surveyor can from his description produce an accurate plan of the land:- Kwadzo v. Adjei (1944) 10 W.A.C.A. 274 or, by himself producing an accurate plan of the land showing precise boundaries. If the plan is inaccurate in the sense that the boundaries are imprecise or that the oral evidence does not tally with the details appearing on the plan, then the trial court will be justified in regarding such a plan as vague and unsatisfactory and again justified in refusing to find a declaration of title on such a plan: Udekwe Amata v. Udogu Modekwe and Ors. (1954) 14 W.A.C.A. 580. The reason for insisting on accurate plans is simply to enable the parties and other persons claiming through them to know precisely the area of land to which the judgment and orders relate:- Maberi v. Alade (1987) 2 N.W.L.R. (Part 55) 101 at p.106. Enforcement of a judgment and order of injunction based on an inaccurate plan will create difficulties, untold difficulties. Where parties own land abutting a common boundary that common boundary will be shown with particularity and precision: Okorie and Ors. v. Udom and Ors. (1960) 5 F.S.C. 162 at p.166; Udofia & anor. v. Afia and ors. Andy v. Akpabio and ors. (1940) 6 W.A.C.A. 216. Another feature of our land law which has to be kept in view while considering Issue No. 1 above is that where a party claims a specific area of land and can only prove title to a part of that area of land or where the defendant concedes part of the land claimed, the court can grant the plaintiff title to the area proved or conceded but if; and only if, that area is definite and can be easily hatched out of and excised from the total area claimed, see Abudu Karimu v. Daniel Fajube (1968) N.M.L.R. 151 and Anukwua and ors. v. Ohia and ors. (1986) 5 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 40) 150 at p.161. Otherwise the declaration may be rightly refused.

– Oputa JSC. OLUFOSOYE v. OLORUNFEMI (1989)

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ACCEPTED METHODS OF PROVING CUSTOMARY OWNERSHIP

The accepted methods of proving customary ownership of land are- (1) Traditional History of ownership; (2) Where the evidence in (1) above is found to be inconclusive, then proof of acts of occupation and use of the land over a considerable long period without challenge or disturbance from any other claimant and (3) Where (2) above fails, proof of exclusive possession without permission. See – Ekpo v. Ita 11 N.L.R. 68; F.M. Alade v. Lawrence Awo (1975) 4 S.C.215.

— Wali JSC. Onwuka & Ors. V. Ediala & Anor. (SC.18/1987, 20 January 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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