WHAT IS A PARTY RELYING ON TRADITIONAL HISTORY EXPECTED TO PLEAD AND PROVE WHEN ESTABLISHING HIS ROOT OF TITLE

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CASE TITLE: ZAPHANIAH v. GARBA & ANOR (2019) LPELR-48930(CA)

JUDGMENT DATE: 9TH DECEMBER, 2019

PRACTICE AREA: LAND LAW

LEAD JUDGE: 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 High Court of Adamawa State.

The Appeal originated from Zangra Area Court in Suit number CV/3/2016 wherein the Appellant as Plaintiff before the Court complained before the Court that the 1st Respondent met him and asked him to give him a portion of land which he did on the condition that he will return it when the Appellant requests. That the 1st Respondent brought the 2nd Respondent and gave him a portion of the land to plough. That the Appellant confronted the 2nd Respondent without recourse to the 1st Respondent and told him to vacate the land when the Appellant’s son Joseph who owns the land returned.

The Appellant further claimed that when his son Joseph returns, the 2nd Respondent on the instructions of the 1st Respondent refused to vacate the land; as such the Appellant sued the Respondents as 1st and 2nd Defendants respectively before the trial Court to recover the farmlands from them. The Appellant called four (4) witnesses, while the 1st Respondent called two (2) witnesses the 2nd Respondent did not call any witness. In its Judgment delivered on 10/05/2016, the trial Court gave the 1st farmland to the Appellant, while the 2nd and 3rd farmlands were given to the 2nd Respondent.

Aggrieved, the Appellant appealed to Adamawa State High Court. The High Court in a Judgment delivered on 26/02/2018 dismissed the Appeal. The Appellant further appealed to the Court of Appeal with the leave of the High Court.

ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION

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

1)Whether the Learned Lower Court Judge was right when he declared title to the whole farmlands on the 2nd Respondent by setting aside the farmland declared on the Appellant by the Trial Court, on the ground that the Appellant (as Plaintiff) failed woefully to prove his case on the preponderance of evidence.

2)Whether the learned Lower Court judge was right when he held that the Appellant was never in possession of the portion held in trust of his cousin (Joseph).

DECISION/HELD

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

 RATIOS:

  • EVIDENCE- BURDEN OF PROOF/ONUS OF PROOF: Whether a party seeking declaratory reliefs must establish his entitlement to the reliefs upon the strength of his own case
  • EVIDENCE- PROOF OF TITLE TO LAND: Whether a plaintiff whose claim to a piece of land in dispute is predicated on ownership has the onus to prove and establish same
  • EVIDENCE- BURDEN OF PROOF/ONUS OF PROOF: When a claimant will be held to have failed to discharge the burden on him to prove his root of title and ownership of land
  • EVIDENCE- TRADITIONAL EVIDENCE/HISTORY: What a party relying on traditional history is expected to plead and prove to establish his root of title.
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lawpavilion • January 22, 2020


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