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WHEN TWO COMPETING HISTORIES ARE CONTRADICTORY IN LAND MATTERS

Dictum

In Kojo II v. Bonsie (1957) 1 W.L.R. 1223 it was held that- “Where there is a conflict of traditional history which had been handed down by words of mouth one side or the other must be mistaken, yet both may be honest in their belief. In such a case, the demeanour of witnesses is of little guide to the truth. The best way is to test the traditional history by reference to facts in recent years as established by evidence and by seeing which of the two competing histories is more probable.”

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REQUIREMENT FOR VALID SALE OF LAND UNDER NATIVE LAW & CUSTOM

Under Native law and custom the requirements for a valid sale are:- (a) Payment of purchase price (b) Purchaser is let into possession by the vendor (c) In the presence of witnesses. It is not necessary to have a written contract or conveyance as under English law. Adesanya V. Aderounmu (2000) 6 SC pt.2, pg, 18, Elema V. Akeuzua (2000) 6 SC pt, 3, pg. 26.

— O.O. Adekeye, JSC. Agboola v UBA (2011) – SC.86/2003

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WHEN IDENTITY OF LAND BECOMES AN ISSUE IN LAND MATTERS

It is also now settled law that requires no citation of any authority, that the identity of land in a land dispute will only be in issue if and only if the defendant in his statement of defence makes it one. If he disputes specifically either the area or the location or the features shown in the plaintiff’s plan, then the identity of the land becomes an issue to be tried. In my view both the trial court and the Court of Appeal were right in their decision that the identity of the land in dispute was not an issue joined in the pleadings to be tried.

– Musdapher JSC. Gbadamosi v. Dairo (2007)

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MEANING OF “ANY PERSON” AS USED IN SECTION 36(1) OF LAND USE ACT MEANS ANY NIGERIAN

It is my firm view therefore that the words “ANY PERSON” under section 36(1) of the Act refer to and mean ANY NIGERIAN. The Act has not abrogated any law which limits the rights of aliens to own property. I will however share the views of Omololu-Thomas, J.C.A. that any foreigner who has validly owned or occupied any land before the act is deemed to be an occupier under the act. This however must be in conformity with the definition of occupier under section 50 of the Land Use Act.

— Olatawura, JSC. Ogunola v. Eiyekole (1990) – SC.195/1987

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STATE LANDS ARE FOR PUBLIC PURPOSES – SUCH LANDS ARE HELD IN TRUST

Their powers under the law are limited to leasing them to diverse persons, and accepting forfeitures and surrenders of leases. There appears to be substance in this contention. State lands in Nigeria invariably originate from compulsory acquisitions of such lands from individuals or communities for public purposes. Such lands are held in trust by the acquiring government for use for the public purpose for which the land was acquired and in accordance with the public policy of the state as enshrined in the laws of the state.

– Nnaemeka-agu, JSC. Ude v. Nwara (1993)

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DISTINCTION BETWEEN A HOLDER & OCCUPIER IN LAND LAW

The essential distinction which could be made between a “holder” and an “Occupier” as defined, is that whereas the former is a person entitled in law to a right of occupancy, the latter is not a person so entitled. The legal effect of the distinction is that an “occupier” will necessarily hold of a “holder” who would at the commencement of the Land Use Act be entitled to a customary right of occupancy. Hence, the fact that the “occupier” is in possession, and the “holder” is not, does not alter the true legal status of the parties.

– Karibe-Whyte, JSC. Abioye v. Yakubu (1991) – SC.169/1987

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ACCEPTED METHODS OF PROVING CUSTOMARY OWNERSHIP

The accepted methods of proving customary ownership of land are- (1) Traditional History of ownership; (2) Where the evidence in (1) above is found to be inconclusive, then proof of acts of occupation and use of the land over a considerable long period without challenge or disturbance from any other claimant and (3) Where (2) above fails, proof of exclusive possession without permission. See – Ekpo v. Ita 11 N.L.R. 68; F.M. Alade v. Lawrence Awo (1975) 4 S.C.215.

— Wali JSC. Onwuka & Ors. V. Ediala & Anor. (SC.18/1987, 20 January 1989)

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