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POOR DRAFTING OF THE LAND USE ACT

Dictum

This case has once more highlighted the unnecessary difficulties created by lack of precision and inelegant drafting of statutes. The Land Use Act as a major legislation affecting the fortunes of every Nigerian leaves a lot to be desired in its drafting. The Land Use Act is an existing law and, as I declared in another forum earlier on last year, has come to stay with us. Laudable as the intention of the Act declared in the provisions of section 1 is, it is my opinion that it cannot be realised as long as the administrative provisions which deprive all Nigerians of the use and benefit of the land vested in the Military Governor remains. It is for Nigerians through their representatives (elected and non elected) to give detailed examinations to these provisions and make the necessary amendments to enable the Act achieve its laudable purpose.

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

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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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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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HOW TO PROVE LAND BY TRADITIONAL HISTORY

It is well settled that one of the five ways of establishing a claim for declaration of title to land is by traditional evidence. See Idundun v. Okumagba (1976) 9-10 SC, 227. It is also settled that once the traditional evidence is found to be conclusive and cogent, there would be no need whatsoever to require further proof. See Akinyili v. Ejidike (1996) 5 NWLR (Pt. 449) 181 at 417; Balogun v. Akanji (1988) 1 NWLR (Pt. 70) 301; Amajideogu v. Ononaku (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 78) 614. But the traditional evidence must be such as to be consistent and properly link the plaintiff with the traditional history relied upon. See Owoade v. Omitola (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 77) 413. Also a plaintiff who seeks declaration of title to land must prove his root of title to the land. If he traces his title to a particular person, it is not enough to stop there. He must go further to prove how that person got his own title or came to have the title vested in him including where necessary the family that originally owned the land. See Thomas v. Preston Holder 12 WACA 78; Ajibona v. Kolawole (1996) 10 NWLR (Pt. 476) 22.

— U.A. Kalgo, JSC. Dike & Ors. V. Francis Okoloedo & Ors. (SC.116/1993, 15 Jul 1999)

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LAND WILL CONTINUE TO BE HELD BY THE PERSON IN WHOM IT IS VESTED BEFORE LAND USE ACT COMMENCEMENT

It is common ground that the land in dispute over which Exhibit B was issued in favour of the plaintiff is within the urban area of Ibadan. It is not in dispute that it is developed land within the provisions of section 5(1) of the of the Land Use Act 1978. Accordingly, pursuant to section 34(2) of the Land Use Act, the land in dispute shall continue to be held by the person in whom it was vested immediately before the commencement of the Land Use Act on the 29th March, 1978 as if such person was the holder of a statutory right of occupancy issued to him by the Governor under the Act.

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

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DRAFTING MAJOR COMMERCIAL CONTRACTS INVOLVING A STATE

585. It was a complete imbalance in the contributions of the parties that enabled the GSPA to be in the form it was. Many reading this judgment will recognise that, although in the present case bribery and corruption were behind that imbalance, it happens in other cases without bribery and corruption but simply where experience, expertise or resources are grossly unequal. This underlines the importance of professional standards and ethics in the work of contract drafting, including in the approach to other parties to the proposed contract. It is why some contributions of pro bono work by leading law firms to support some states challenged for resources (this is not to say, one way or the other, that Nigeria is one of those) is so valuable, in the interests of their, often vulnerable, people. In the present case there were other contracts too, with different counterparties. Their terms and circumstances are not identical, but the overall risk could have been a multiple of the US$11 billion now involved in the present case.

— R. Knowles CBE. FRN v. Process & Industrial Developments Limited [2023] EWHC 2638 (Comm)

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WHEN IS THERE A VALID SALE OF LAND

In law therefore, a valid sale of land is constituted where there is payment of money as consideration, acknowledgment of receipt of the purchase money and execution of deed of conveyance in favour of the purchaser by the Vendor. See Erinosho v. Owokoniran (1965) NMLR 479. See also Ogunbanbi v Abowab (1951) 13 WACA 222; Onafowokan V Oshopitan (2009) 1 WRN 142 @p. 166

— B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Anyi & Ors. v. Akande & Ors. (2017) – CA/L/334/2014

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