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

Dictum

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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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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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 NOTICE IS TO BE SERVED

There is no evidence that any revocation notice was served on plaintiff in the manner stated above. The defendants’s witness’s testimony on service of the forfeiture notice on 13th November, 1979 is no compliance. The 4th defendant’s witness’s evidence of how on the 7th of November, 1980 he went on the land with labourers to clear the person moulding blocks on the land and the blocks is very implicating. More so as he was a Principal Executive Officer with the 1st defendant and acted on instruction of the 1st defendant.

— Obaseki, JSC. Foreign Finance Corp. v Lagos State Devt. & Pty. Corp. & Ors. (1991) – SC. 9/1988

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REASON FOR REVOCATION OF A PERSON’S LAND MUST BE SPELT IN THE REVOCATION NOTICE

Where right of occupancy is stated to be revoked for public purpose, there is the need to spell out the public purpose in the notice of revocation. See Osho v. Foreign Finance Corporation, supra; Ereku v. Military Governor of Midwestern State (1974) 10 SC 59; Adukwu v. Commissioner for Works, Lands and Transport, Enugu State (1997) 2 NWLR (Pt. 489) 588. The reason for revoking a person’s right of occupancy must be stated in the notice of revocation notwithstanding that the Act did not expressly state that the specific ground of the revocation must be stated in the notice. See Adukwu v. Commissioner for Works, Lands and Transport, Enugu State, supra; Nigeria Engineering Works Ltd. 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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POWER TO REVOKE BY GOVERNOR IS DERIVED FROM THE LAND USE ACT, AND NOT THE LAND TENURE LAW

In other words, the provisions of Land Tenure Law is to be followed in the administration of land under the control and management of the Military Governor under the Land Use Act. Further, the provisions of the Land Tenure Law applicable for the purpose are to be modified so as to bring the law into conformity with the Act or its general intendment. It is not the Land Tenure Law that is in operation but the Land Use Act. The provisions of the Land Tenure Law has therefore been incorporated into the Decree for the purpose of administering the lands under the control and management of the Military Governor. Since the Land Use Act came into force in March, 1978, the power a Governor/Military Governor has to grant a statutory right of occupancy and to revoke the statutory right of occupancy is derived from the Land Use Act and NOT the Land Tenure Law or State Land Law. It is a gross misconception of the true state of the law to think or hold the view that because the Land Use Act orders the administration of lands under the control of the Military Governor to be in accordance with the provisions of the Land Tenure Law in the Northern States that the powers exercised are powers under the Land Tenure Law. Both the plaintiff and the 3rd defendant/applicant could only have obtained their grant of statutory right of occupancy under the Land Use Act. The revocation of the right of occupancy could equally only have been exercised under the Land Use Act although in compliance with the procedure prescribed by the Land Tenure Law. The reference to the Land Tenure Law in the Deed of Revocation was a mistake occasioned by a misreading of section 4(a) of the Land Use Act.

— Obaseki, JSC. Saude v. Abdullahi (1989) – SC.197/1987

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

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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