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

Dictum

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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FIVE METHODS OF PROVING TITLE TO LAND

It is now well settled law that in a claim for declaration of title to land, a party claiming title to land must do so by proving with credible evidence one or more of the five methods of proving title to land, namely: A. Evidence of traditional history of title; B. Production of genuine and valid documents of title; C. Acts of Ownership numerous enough; D. Acts of possession over a long period of time and E. Act of possession of adjacent land long enough to make it probable that the owner of the adjacent land is also the owner of the land in dispute. The 1st Appellant and the 1st Respondent, thus had open to them one or more of the above five methods to prove their title to the land in dispute and the law is that proof of any of these methods by credible evidence would be sufficient to ground an action for declaration of title to land.

— B.A. Georgewill, JCA. Anyi & Ors. v. Akande & Ors. (2017) – CA/L/334/2014

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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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IMPROPER SALE DOES NOT VITIATE TITLE OF SUBSEQUENT PURCHASER

I need to stress here that a mortgagee’s power of sale becomes exercisable if it has arisen and once it has so arisen, the title of the subsequent purchaser will not be affected by its improper or irregular exercise and the sale will be regarded valid. See MAJEKODUNMI & ORS V. CO-OP BANK LTD (1997) 10 NWLR (prt. 524) 198. But, in exercising the power of sale, a mortgagee is under duty to take reasonable care to obtain the true value of the property. See TEMCO ENG. & CO LTD V. S.B.N. LTD (1995) 5 NWLR (prt. 397) 607. However, a mortgagee will not be restrained on the exercise of his power of sale merely because the mortgagor objects to the manner in which the sale is being arranged or because the mortgagor has commenced a redemption action in Court, but he (mortgagee) will be restrained if the mortgagor pays the amount claimed by the mortgagee into Court.

— M.L. Shuaibu, JCA. FBN v Benlion (2021) – CA/C/31/2016

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REQUIRED EVIDENCE TO PROVE TRADITIONAL HISTORY

What are the averments which a party relying on traditional histories or evidence must incorporate into their pleadings? The Supreme Court in Lebile v. The Registered Trustees of Cherubium and Seraphim Church of Zion of Nigeria, Ugbonla and Ors. (2003) 2 NWLR (Pt.804) 399 per the judgment of Uwaifo, J.S.C. provided the answer at pages 418/419 thus: “It cannot be too often said that a party who relies on traditional history (which a claim to the finding of a village or town implies) would need to plead the names of his ancestors to narrate a continuous claim of devolution, not allowing there to be any gap or leading to a prima facie collapse of the traditional history. The history must show how the land by a system of devolution eventually came to be owned by the plaintiff.”

– Aderemi JCA. Irawo v. Adedokun (2004)

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THE WAY TO TEST THE TRUTH IN TRADITIONAL HISTORY WHERE CONFLICT

The treatment of traditional evidence or history has over the years come to be regulated by what I may call the rule in Kojo II v. Bonsie (1957) 1 NMLR 1223. The proposition of law relating to traditional evidence as decided in Kojo II v. Bonsie is that where there is a conflict of traditional history, demeanour by itself, is of little guide to the truth. The best way to test the traditional history is by reference to the facts in recent years as established by evidence and by seeing which of the two competing histories is more probable.

– Aderemi JCA. Irawo v. Adedokun (2004)

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CANNOT SET UP A ROOT OF TITLE DIFFERENT FROM VENDOR

The court below was therefore right, in my view, in holding that this could not be so in that 2nd Respondent who derived his title from the Respondent cannot set up a root of title different from that of his Vendor. He must either sink or swim with him, it being that a Vendor can only pass to the purchasers whatever title he has. See Fasoro v. Beyioku (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 76) 263.

— Dike & Ors. V. Francis Okoloedo & Ors. (SC.116/1993, 15 Jul 1999)

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