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PARTY MUST AS WELL ESTABLISH THE TITLE OF WHO HE TRACES TO

Dictum

It is well settled that once a party pleads and traces his root of title in an action involving title to land to a particular person or source, and this averment, as in the present case, is disputed or challenged, that party, to succeed, as a plaintiff in the suit must not only establish his own title to such land, he must also satisfy the court on the validity of the title of that particular person or source from whom he claims to have derived his title. See Mogaji v. Cadbury Nigeria Ltd. (1985) 7 SC 59, (1985) 2 NWLR (pt.7) 393 at 431; Elias v. Omo-Bare (1982) 5 SC 25 at 37 – 38.

— Iguh, JSC. Olohunde v. Adeyoju (2000) – SC.15/1995

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REQUIRED EVIDENCE TO PROVE TRADITIONAL HISTORY

What are the averments which a party relying on traditional histories or evidence must incorporate into their pleadings? The Supreme Court in Lebile v. The Registered Trustees of Cherubium and Seraphim Church of Zion of Nigeria, Ugbonla and Ors. (2003) 2 NWLR (Pt.804) 399 per the judgment of Uwaifo, J.S.C. provided the answer at pages 418/419 thus: “It cannot be too often said that a party who relies on traditional history (which a claim to the finding of a village or town implies) would need to plead the names of his ancestors to narrate a continuous claim of devolution, not allowing there to be any gap or leading to a prima facie collapse of the traditional history. The history must show how the land by a system of devolution eventually came to be owned by the plaintiff.”

– Aderemi JCA. Irawo v. Adedokun (2004)

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THE ADVANTAGES OF THE REGISTRATION OF TITLE

The advantage of registered title is that the purchaser can discover from the mere inspection of the register whether the vendor has power to sell the land and what the more important incumbrances are except in the case of what may be classified as overriding interest, as contained in s.52 of the Registration of Titles Law, which bind the proprietor of registered land even though he has no knowledge of them and no reference is made to them in the register. Otherwise, a registered owner of land is not affected by notice of any unregistered estate, interest or claim affecting the estate of any previous registered owner, nor is he concerned to inquire whether the terms of any caution or restriction existing before he was registered as owner of such land have been complied with see s.54. Short of rectification of the register carried out in pursuance of s.61, a registered owner’s title is indefeasible. It has been said that a register of title is an authoritative record, kept in a public office, of the rights to clearly defined units of land as vested for the time being in some particular person or body, and of the limitations, if any, to which these rights are subject. With certain exceptions known as ‘overriding interests’, all the material particulars affecting the title to the land are fully revealed merely by a perusal of the register which is maintained and warranted by the State. The register is at all times the final authority and the State accepts responsibility for the validity of transactions, which are effected by making an entry in the register.

— Uwais, JSC. Onagoruwa & Ors. v. Akinremi (2001) – SC.191/1997

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WHEN ROOT OF TITLE NEEDS TO BE PROVED

Uche v. Eke (1998) 9 NWLR (Pt. 564) 24 at 35, this court, per Iguh, JSC observed: “In the first place, it has been stressed times without number that it would be wrong to assume that all a person who resorts to a grant as a method of proving his title to land needs do is simply to produce his deed of title and rest his case thereon. Without doubt, the mere tendering of such document of title may be sufficient to prove such grant where the title of the grantor to such land is either admitted or not in dispute. Where, however, as in the present case, an issue has been seriously raised as to the title of such a grantor to the land in dispute, the origin or root of title of such a grantor must not only be clearly averred in the pleadings, it must also be proved by evidence.”

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WHAT CONSTITUTES A VALID TRANSFER OF A LEGAL TITLE

It is trite law that in order to constitute a transfer of legal title under English Law by purchase, there must be a valid sale, payment of money accompanied by acknowledgement of receipt and execution of a deed of conveyance. If a person sells his land to another and fails to put the person in possession, retains possession, the payment of money to the owner of a parcel of land does not per se amount to a transfer of title to the purchaser. The payment of purchase price must be accompanied either by a conveyance executed in favor of the purchaser to invest him with legal title or by entry into possession by the purchaser to give him equitable title to the land.

– Abiru, JCA. Okoli v. Gaya (2014)

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PAYMENT OF PURCHASE PRICE DOES NOT VEST EQUITABLE TITLE

As stated earlier, payment of purchase price alone does not vest equitable title of property and the best that the payment of purchase price can do is to entitle the purchaser to a claim for specific performance of the contract of sale.

– Abiru, JCA. Okoli v. Gaya (2014)

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PROOF OF TITLE TO LAND BY TRADITIONAL HISTORY

One of these five methods or ways of proof of title is by traditional history of the land which includes modes of acquisition of same by deforestation of the virgin forest by the first settler and by proof of acts of long possession on and over the land in issue. — J.H. Sankey, JCA. Ibrahim Muli v Sali Akwai (2021) – CA/G/423/2019

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