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PROVISION ON COMPULSORY ACQUISITION OF A PERSON’S LAND MUST BE CONSTRUED STRICTLY

Dictum

Any provision of the law which gives or governs compulsory acquisition of a person’s property must be construed by the court fortissimo contra preferentes. Such a statute should be construed by the court strictly against the acquiring authority and sympathetically in favour of the complainant or the owner or possessor of the property against any irregularity in the procedure for acquisition as laid down by the enabling statute. See Peenock Investments Ltd. v. Hotel Presidential Ltd. (1983) 4 NCLR 122 at 115; Alhaji Bello v. Diocesan Synod of Lagos (1973) 1 All NLR (Pt. 1) 247 at 268; Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd. v. Chief Ogunbiyi (1992) 7 NWLR (Pt 255) 543; Osho v. Foreign Finance Corporation (1991) 4 NWLR (Pt. 184) 157.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. C.S.S. Bookshops v. Muslim Community & Ors. (2006) – SC.307/2001

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REVOCATION OF LAND MUST BE IN COMPLIANCE WITH SECTION 28 OF THE LAND USE ACT

It is not at all in doubt that the provisions of section 28 of the Act contains comprehensive provisions to guide the Governor of a State in the exercise of his vast powers of control of land within the territorial areas of his State particularly the power of revocation of a right of occupancy. One of the preconditions for the exercise of this power of revocation is that it must be shown clearly to be for overriding public interest. In order not to leave the Governor in any doubt as to the conditions for the exercise of his powers, the law went further to provide adequate guidance by defining in clear terms what overriding public interest means in the case of a statutory right of occupancy under the Act in subsection (2) of section 28. What this means of course is obvious. Any revocation of a right of occupancy by the Governor in exercise of powers under the Act must be within the confine of the provisions of section 28 of the Act. Consequently, any exercise of this power of revocation for purposes outside those outlined or enumerated by section 28 of the Act or not carried out in compliance with provisions of the section, can be regarded as being against the policy and intention of the Land Use Act resulting in the exercise of the power being declared invalid, null and void by a competent court in exercise of its jurisdiction on a complaint by an aggrieved party.

— Mohammed, JSC. C.S.S. Bookshops v. Muslim Community & Ors. (2006) – SC.307/2001

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SERVICE OF NOTICE MUST BE EFFECTED ON LAND OWNER FOR REVOCATION TO BE VALID

One cannot but continue to emphasize that where a statute specifically provides for a particular way in which Government or any party can obtain title, the Government or the party can only acquire title by strict compliance with the statute, unless the statute or its wording is against the constitution of the Land. Another way of stating it is that there should be strict compliance with the issue of serving notice on land owners or interested persons in compulsory acquisition of land in accordance with the provisions of the law aforesaid. See Provost Lagos State College of Education & Ors v Dr. Kolawole Edun & Ors (2004) 6 NWLR (Pt.870) 476 at 506; Okeowo v Attorney-General Ogun State (2010) 16 NWLR (Pt.1219) 327.

— M. Peter-Odili, JSC. Goldmark & Ors. v. Ibafon Co. & Ors. (2012) – SC.421/2001

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PURPOSE OF GIVING A NOTICE OF REVOCATION OF LAND

The purpose of giving notice of revocation of a right of occupancy is to duly inform the holder thereof of the steps being taken to extinguish his right of occupancy. In the absence of notice of revocation of right of occupancy, it follows that the purported revocation of the right of occupancy by the officer duly authorised by the Governor is ineffectual. See Nigerian Telecommunications Ltd. v. Chief Ogunbiyi, supra; A.-G., Bendel State v. Aideyan (1989) 4 NWLR (Pt. 118) 646; Nigeria Engineering Works Limited v. Denap Limited (1997) 10 NWLR (Pt. 525) 481.

— Niki Tobi, JSC. C.S.S. Bookshops v. Muslim Community & Ors. (2006) – SC.307/2001

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REVOCATION & ACQUISITION MUST BE FOR PUBLIC PURPOSE

If the forgoing is not complied with, such acquisition shall be illegal, unlawful null and void. The law equally empowers such acquisition when it is required for public purpose. What is public purpose is not defined in the Act but have been identified by the courts in numerous cases. The acquisition must be for bonafide public purpose. It is suggested that for a particular purpose to qualify as public purpose or public interest it must not be vague and the way it benefits the public at large must be capable of proof. The test is whether or not the purpose is meant to benefit the public and not just to aid the commercial transaction of a company or a group of people for their own selfish or financial purposes.

— O.O. Adekeye, JSC. Goldmark & Ors. v. Ibafon Co. & Ors. (2012) – SC.421/2001

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ONCE LAND IS REVOKED, PARTY HAS CLAIM IN COMPENSATION ONLY

My lords, once Exhibit B is revoked, the appellant and respondent no longer have any rights to the Plot. All their rights stand extinguished. Their only remedy is compensation as provided by Section 44(1) of the Constitution. It is strange to suggest that with the revocation of Exhibit B the appellants interest therein is transferred to Exhibit A. That is not the position in Law or Equity. The appellant’s interest in Exhibit B died with the revocation. Consequently, the appellant forcefully entering Exhibit A confers on the respondent an enforceable cause of action. The respondent was right to go to court to seek redress and the court was correct to enter judgment for him.

— Rhodes-Vivour, JSC. Ibekwe v. Nwosu (2011) – SC.108/2006

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NOTICE OF REVOCATION MUST BE SERVED ON OCCUPIER OF LAND

A person who is not the proven owner or occupier of land in respect of which notice of acquisition or revocation is issued has no locus standi in law to seek nullification of the acquisition. Elegushi v. Oseni (2005) 14 NWLR (Pt.945) pg.348. It would amount to sufficient service of a notice of acquisition of a piece of land or of revocation of grant in respect of the land if service of the notice is effected on the occupier of the land. Elegushi v. Oseni (2005) 14 NWLR (pt.945) pg.348. Obikoya & Sons Ltd. v. Gov. Lagos State (1987) 1 NWLR (pt.50) pg.385.

— O.O. Adekeye, JSC. Goldmark & Ors. v. Ibafon Co. & Ors. (2012) – SC.421/2001

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