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POSITION OF THE LAW WHERE THERE IS NO VALID NOTICE OF REVOCATION OF RIGHT OF OCCUPANCY

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CASE TITLE: ST. PETER PARISH MAKURDI v. REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF DEEPER LIFE BIBLE CHURCH & ORS (2018) LPELR-45892(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 1ST NOVEMBER, 2018

PRACTICE AREA: LAND LAW

LEAD JUDGMENT: ONYEKACHI AJA OTISI, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT

INTRODUCTION:

This appeal borders on Land Law.

FACTS:

This is an appeal against the Judgment of the Benue State High Court sitting at Makurdi delivered on July 30, 2010 in Suit No MHC/184/2006 Coram E.N. Kpojime, J., granting the claims of the 1st Respondent against the Appellant.

The case of the 1st Respondent as plaintiff in the High Court was that the parcel of land, the subject matter of the suit, initially belonged to one Mr. Michael Bisibi Ati, in whose favour were issued Makurdi Local Government Certificate of Occupancy Nos. 1407 and 1408 in respect of the land in dispute. The 1st Respondent had on 25/6/1997 acquired the land in dispute from one Pastor Joseph Ichul, who had acquired same from one Malam Malaraba. The said Malam Malaraba had acquired the same land in dispute from Mr. Bisibi Ati. The 1st Respondent averred that while it was in the process of validating the documents in respect of the said land in dispute, the Certificate of Occupancy in the names of Mr. Bisibi Ati was revoked and the title in the land granted to the Appellant by Certificate of Occupancy No BND 8743, leading to the institution the action at the High Court.

The Appellant and the 2nd and 3rd Respondents in their respective Statements of Defence denied the claims of the 1st Respondent. The case for the Appellant was that the title document in respect of the disputed land was validly issued to her as there was no subsisting title over the land at the material time. That the purchase pleaded by the 1st Respondent, was not in compliance with the law and therefore was invalid and incapable of vesting title on her. The 2nd and 3rd Respondents, on their part, did not proffer any evidence in line with their pleading as their only witness was alleged to be incapacitated. Their said pleadings were deemed to have been abandoned.

At the conclusion of hearing, the High Court found in favour of the 1st Respondent. Dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:

The Court determined the appeal on these issues couched as follows:

  1. Whether the Learned Trial Judge had properly evaluated the evidence of the parties vis- a- vis their pleadings the case of the 1st Respondent would have seen(sic) dismissed instead of granting same. 
  2. Whether the Learned Trial Judge was right to have set aside the revocation of the title of Mr. Bisibi Ati for not been validly done, when the said Mr. Bisibi Ati in whom the said title resides was not made a party to the suit, nor was shown to have complain (sic) about same, nor was any issued(sic) raised by the 1st Respondent as to the procedure leading up to the revocation of the title of Mr. Bisibi Ati.
  3. Whether the Learned Trial Judge was right to have relied on documents in Exhibit 2 which were merely dumped on the Court and never referred to by the PW1 during his examination-in- chief, to arrive at the decision that there was no valid revocation of the title of Mr. Bisibi Ati in the subject land. 
  4. Whether the Learned Trial Judge was right in law to have set aside the right of occupancy granted to the Appellant when the 1st Respondent was unable to show a better title in the disputed land.

 

DECISION/HELD:

On the whole, the Court found no merit in the appeal and accordingly dismissed same.

RATIOS:

  • APPEAL- DUTY/ROLE OF A RESPONDENT: Role of a respondent to an appeal
  • EVIDENCE- DOCUMENTARY EVIDENCE: Instance(s) where it cannot be said that a document was dumped on the Court

lawpavilion • November 28, 2018


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