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VESTED RIGHT IN A LAND MUST BE REVOKED IN ACCORDANCE WITH SECTION 28 LAND USE ACT

Dictum

It is not in doubt that S.1 of the Land Use Act vests in the Governor of a State the land in that State to be held in trust and administered accordingly. All lands in urban areas are under his control and management. All other lands are under the control and management of the respective Local Governments subject to certain aspects of intervention and determination of the Governor. It is also not in doubt that under S.5(1)(a) of the Act, it shall be lawful for the Governor to grant statutory rights of occupancy to any persons in respect of land, whether or not in an urban area. Under S.5(2), when such a grant is made, all existing rights to the use and occupation of the land which is the subject of the statutory right of occupancy shall be extinguished. But these provisions so far referred to are certainly not to be applied to defeat vested rights recognised under the Act itself. They may admittedly, defeat “existing rights to the use and occupation of the land” but not vested rights unless such vested rights are first revoked under S.28 of the Act as appropriate. This may be (a) for overriding public interest, (b) by notice on behalf of the President for public purposes, (c) for breach of the provisions imposed by S.10 of the Act, (d) for breach of any term envisaged by S.8 of the Act, (e) for refusal or neglect to comply with the requirement specified as per S.9(3) of the Act. In all these cases, the revocation shall be signified by notice duly issued and shall become valid when received by the person with such vested right: See S.28(6) and (7) of the Act. It is an accepted legal principle that vested rights are not lightly taken away. Under the Land Use Act it must be in accordance with S.28 and in addition compensation is payable by virtue of S.29. A person granted a right of occupancy acquires a vested right. So also is a person deemed to have been granted a right of occupancy under the relevant provisions of S.34 of the Act.

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

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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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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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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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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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REVOCATION BY GOVERNOR MUST BE FOR OVERRIDING PUBLIC PURPOSE

By the provisions of Section 28(1) of the Land Use Act, 1978, it shall be lawful for the Governor to revoke a right of occupancy for overriding public interest. At no time was the appellant’s validly subsisting right of occupancy over the land in dispute revoked by the Borno State Governor nor even was notice of such revocation served on the appellant or on his predecessors in title. It is also not in dispute that no compensation in respect of the land was ever paid to the appellant. It ought also to be borne in mind that the purported grant made by the State Government to the 1st respondent was not for any overriding public interest but for his personal use for farming purposes. In these circumstances, it seems to me that Exhibit B is equally tainted with illegality and is as incurably defective as Exhibit A.

— Iguh, JSC. Kyari v Alkali (2001) – SC.224/1993

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