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WHERE COMPETING TITLE, THE ONE WHO SHOWS A BETTER TITLE WINS

Dictum

Where there are competing titles, which trace their root to the same source, the one who can show a better title prevails. See:Omiyale Vs Macaulay (2009) FWLR (Pt. 479) 399: Otukpo vs John (2013) ALL FWLR (Pt: 661) 1509; (2012) LPELR–25053 (SC).

— K.M.O. Kekere-Ekun, JSC. Reg. Trustees Apostolic Church v. Reg. Trustees of Grace Church (2021) – SC.270/2011

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WHERE PARTY BASIS HIS TITLE ON GRANT BY CUSTOM IS TO PROVE GRANTOR’S TITLE

This court has made it clear in several decisions that if a party bases its title on a grant according to custom by a particular family or community, that party must go further to plead and prove the origin of the title of that particular person, family or community unless that title has been admitted. See on this Mogaji v. Cadbury Nigeria Ltd. (1985) 2 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 7) 393 at 431 also Elias v. Omo-Bare (1982) 5 S.C.25 at pp.57-58.

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

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WAYS TO PROVE OWNERSHIP OF LAND

In a civil claim of title to or ownership of land, for a party to succeed, he must prove his title in one of the five ways laid down in this court’s decision of Idundun vs. Okumagba (1976) 9-10 SC 227 followed by a long line of other decided authorities to the following effect: Proof by traditional evidence Proof by production of documents of title duly authenticated to prove title. Proof by acts of ownership extending over a sufficient length of time, numerous and positive as to warrant the inference that the person is the true owner. Vide Ekpo vs. Ita 11 NLR 68. Proof by acts of long possession and Proof of possession of connected or adjacent land in circumstances probable that the owner of such connected or adjacent land would in addition be the owner of the land in dispute.

— Onu, JSC. Ezennah v Atta (2004) – SC.226/2000

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THE ADVANTAGES OF THE REGISTRATION OF TITLE

The advantage of registered title is that the purchaser can discover from the mere inspection of the register whether the vendor has power to sell the land and what the more important incumbrances are except in the case of what may be classified as overriding interest, as contained in s.52 of the Registration of Titles Law, which bind the proprietor of registered land even though he has no knowledge of them and no reference is made to them in the register. Otherwise, a registered owner of land is not affected by notice of any unregistered estate, interest or claim affecting the estate of any previous registered owner, nor is he concerned to inquire whether the terms of any caution or restriction existing before he was registered as owner of such land have been complied with see s.54. Short of rectification of the register carried out in pursuance of s.61, a registered owner’s title is indefeasible. It has been said that a register of title is an authoritative record, kept in a public office, of the rights to clearly defined units of land as vested for the time being in some particular person or body, and of the limitations, if any, to which these rights are subject. With certain exceptions known as ‘overriding interests’, all the material particulars affecting the title to the land are fully revealed merely by a perusal of the register which is maintained and warranted by the State. The register is at all times the final authority and the State accepts responsibility for the validity of transactions, which are effected by making an entry in the register.

— Uwais, JSC. Onagoruwa & Ors. v. Akinremi (2001) – SC.191/1997

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PAYMENT OF PURCHASE PRICE DOES NOT VEST EQUITABLE TITLE

As stated earlier, payment of purchase price alone does not vest equitable title of property and the best that the payment of purchase price can do is to entitle the purchaser to a claim for specific performance of the contract of sale.

– Abiru, JCA. Okoli v. Gaya (2014)

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WHAT CONSTITUTES A VALID TRANSFER OF A LEGAL TITLE

It is trite law that in order to constitute a transfer of legal title under English Law by purchase, there must be a valid sale, payment of money accompanied by acknowledgement of receipt and execution of a deed of conveyance. If a person sells his land to another and fails to put the person in possession, retains possession, the payment of money to the owner of a parcel of land does not per se amount to a transfer of title to the purchaser. The payment of purchase price must be accompanied either by a conveyance executed in favor of the purchaser to invest him with legal title or by entry into possession by the purchaser to give him equitable title to the land.

– Abiru, JCA. Okoli v. Gaya (2014)

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PURCHASER OF REGISTERED LAND IS NOT AFFECTED BY NOTICE

Thus a purchaser of registered land is not affected with notice either actual or constructive, of any unregistered estate, interest or claim which affects the estate of his vendor. The estate of a first registered owner for value is free from unregistered estate, interest or claim affecting the land. It is not limited by any interest adverse to or in derogation of his title subsisting or capable of arising at the time of first registration. The plaintiff having tendered the documents enumerated above ought to have been declared owner of the parcel of land and if the courts below had appreciated the basic idea behind registration of title under cap, 166, Laws of Lagos State, 1994 and its incidents, their decisions would have been different. There is no way the defendants can successfully challenge the title of the plaintiff short of the rectification of the register in accordance with sections 60 and 61 of the law, Since that was not the case, the title of the plaintiff in respect of plots 89, 91 and 93 remains indefeasible.

— Ogwuegbu, JSC. Onagoruwa & Ors. v. Akinremi (2001) – SC.191/1997

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