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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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LAND USE FOR MARKET DOES NOT NECESSARILY MEAN IT IS A COMMUNAL LAND

The fact that land is used as a market does not necessarily mean that it is communal land. A market is no doubt a public place which may be an open space or a building where people go to buy and sell goods. But it does not follow from the fact that it is a public place that the market belongs to the community and not to an individual or a group of individuals. Even if the market is communally owned evidence as to the community which owns it must be forthcoming before one can come to the conclusion that it belongs to that community.

— Agbaje, JSC. Ogunleye v Oni (1990) – S.C. 193/1987

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PROOF NOT NECESSARY WHERE IDENTITY OF LAND NOT IN DISPUTE

It is the general principle of law that a plaintiff who claims title to land must prove the identity of the land in dispute. This is to enable the court know the exact area or acreage of the land in dispute to give him judgment if he is able to prove title. However, where the identity of the land is not in dispute or where there is enough evidence for the court to infer the identity of the land, proof is not necessary. In such a situation, the plaintiff has no burden to prove the identity of the land. Of the two ways, the easier one is when the parties agree as to the identity of the land or they do not put the identity of the land in issue.

– Niki Tobi JSC. Gbadamosi v. Dairo (2007)

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RENT INCLUDE THE IMPROVEMENTS MADE ON THE PREMISES

✓ Ponsford v. H.M.S. Aerosols (supra). Here there was lease dated August 19, 1968 of factory premises in Barking for 21 years and the revision of rent was to be referred to a surveyor under an arbitration clause where the parties disagree on the revised rent. In 1969, the premises were burnt down and rebuilt out of the proceeds of insurance. The licence for the improvements which were in fact made was contained in a document dated November 14, 1969, where in clause 1 it provided: “The landlords hereby grant unto the tenants licence to execute in and upon the demised premises the several alterations and works indicated in the plan annexed …. It is hereby agreed and declared that all the lessee’s covenants and conditions contained in the lease which are now applicable to the premises demised thereby shall continue to be applicable to the same when and as altered and shall extend to all additions which may be made thereto in the course of such alterations.” The lease of August 19, 1968 indicated, inter alia, that the rent would be assessed “as reasonable rent for the demised premises”. The trial judge. held that a reasonable rent for the premises should be assessed without taking account of the improvements made by the defendants. The plaintiffs appealed on the ground that the judge was wrong in his construction of the rent review clause. On appeal, the Court of Appeal, by a majority of 2:1, reversed the judgment of the trial court and held that the revised rent would include the improvements made on the demised premises.

✓ Cuff v. J. & F. Stone Proper Ltd. (supra) provided that improvement on the land should not be wholly disregarded. Cuffs case is different from the case before us in the sense that the improvements on the land had been made prior to the execution of the lease. Accordingly the improvement, unless expressly excluded, must be taken into account in computing the revised rent. In the instant case there was not improvement on the bare land at the time of the lease, and the subsequent improvement did not form part of the demised premises. Without doubt, the improvements in the Cuff case formed part of the demised premises.

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PARTY MUST SHOW PLAN CORRESPONDS WITH THE LAND

It settled law that where a party claims ownership of a parcel of land and relies on a plan, he must show that his plan corresponds with the land to which he lays claim. It is usually not enough for a party simply to file or tender a plan of land and rest content that the boundaries have been defined when there is nothing in the pleading and evidence against which to test the boundaries and even as well as the location and features of the said land.

– Abiru, JCA. Okoli v. Gaya (2014)

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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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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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