WHETHER A PARTY CLAIMING LAND MUST PROVE MORE THAN ONE ROOT OF TITLE TO SUCCEED

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CASE TITLE: I.A.D. (NIG) LTD v. SAMPARACO (NIG) LTD (2019) LPELR-47137(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 5TH APRIL, 2019

PRACTICE AREA: LAND LAW

LEAD JUDGMENT: ABDULLAHI MAHMUD BAYERO, J.C.A.

SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:

INTRODUCTION

This appeal borders on land law.

FACTS

This is an appeal against the decision of the Adamawa State High Court, delivered by Hafsat Abdurrahman J.

By an amended statement of claim, the Respondent claimed against the Appellant as follows:

a) A declaration that the Plaintiff is the lawful and bonafide owner of land measuring 8868.90m covered by Customary Certificate of Occupancy number YLSG/WKS/LAN/NAM/VOL. 1/535 dated 24th September 2008 which is situate at and lying along Yola – Numan Road, Namtari District.

b) A declaration that the placing of trees, three electrical poles and the subsequent excavation and building of a wall on the Plaintiff’s land by the Defendant amount to continuing trespass.

c) An order directing the Defendant to remove the three electrical poles unlawfully placed on the Plaintiff’s land and to demolish the wall unlawfully erected by the Defendant on the Plaintiff’s land.

​d) Alternatively, an order directing the Defendant to pay the sum of N20 million only being the current market value of the land in dispute.
e) An order perpetually restraining the Defendant, its servants, agents, privies or any person or persons claiming through it from further trespassing onto the Plaintiff’s land.

  1. f) The sum of N5,000,000 (Five Million Naira) as general damages for trespass to the Plaintiff’s land.
  2. g) Cost of filing the suit.

 

Pleadings were exchanged and issues joined. The Respondent called one witness and tendered four Exhibits (A. A1, B and B1). The Appellant neither called any witness nor tender any document in its defence. The trial Court granted all the reliefs of the Respondent. Dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.

 

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

Appellant formulated three issues for determination, thus:

“1) Whether proof of root of title is essential to proof of title to land.

2) Whether the foreclosure of the Appellant by the trial Court to enter its defence violated its right to fair hearing.

3) Whether in a trial for declaration of land a Plaintiff succeeds on the strength of its case.”

DECISION/HELD

In the final analysis, the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal.

 

RATIOS:

  • CONSTITUTIONAL LAW- BREACH OF RIGHT TO FAIR HEARING: Whether a party who had an opportunity of being heard but did not utilize it can bring an action for breach of fair hearing
  • EVIDENCE- PROOF OF OWNERSHIP OF LAND: Whether production of documents of title is one of the ways by which proof of ownership of land can be proved
  • EVIDENCE- PROOF OF TITLE TO LAND: Ways by which ownership/title to land may be proved; whether a plaintiff needs to prove all the five ways

EVIDENCE- UNCHALLENGED/UNCONTROVERTED EVIDENCE: Effect of an unchallenged/uncontroverted evidence

Court of AppealLawPavilion Prime

lawpavilion • April 16, 2019


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