WHEN IDENTITY OF LAND WILL NOT BE IN ISSUE
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CASE TITLE: MARANATHA CONSULTANTS LTD & ANOR v. DIRISU (2019) LPELR-47745(CA)
JUDGMENT DATE: 13TH JUNE, 2019
PRACTICE AREA: LAND LAW
LEAD JUDGMENT: FOLASADE AYODEJI OJO, J.C.A.
SUMMARY OF JUDGMENT:
This appeal borders on Land Law.
This is an appeal against the judgment of the Oyo State High Court in Suit No: I/657/2004 between PROPHET (PRINCE) YOMI OLOTO as Claimant and (1) MARANATHA CONSULTANTS LIMITED (2) LAKE LAND AUTO MART as Defendants delivered on the 10th day of February 2012.
By an Amended Writ of Summons and Amended Statement of Claim filed on the 22nd of May, 2006, the Respondent as Claimant claimed among others for a Declaration that the Plaintiff is entitled to a Statutory Right of Occupancy over the piece or parcel of land being occupied by the Defendants situate, lying and being occupied by the Defendants situate, lying and being at Idi-Orogbo Area, Ibadan which forms part of the land comprised in Plan No. OG/138/63 dated 12th June 1963 and drawn by Akin Ogunbiyi, a Licensed Surveyor and special, exemplary and/or aggravated damages and general damages for damages suffered by the Plaintiff.
Pleadings were exchanged between the parties and the matter proceeded to hearing.
The Respondent as Claimants claimed ownership of a piece of land which his vendor (Mrs. Kofoworola Abeni Pratt) bought from one Alhaji E. A. Adeleke and Chief Saka Owoade by virtue of a land agreement dated 25th April 1963. That the whole area where the land is situate was formally called Idi Orogbo Area, Oke-Ado Ibadan but now known as Ring Road, Ibadan. He claimed that the parcel of land in question which is comprised in Plan No: OG/138/63 dated 12th June 1963 originally belonged to the Olukosi family of Ibadan and is bounded on one side by Ajengbe Stream, on the second side by Akobale layout, on the 3rd side by Access Road and on the fourth side by Elekunkun Stream. He further claimed that by virtue of a deed of conveyance dated the 23rd day of May, 1959 and registered as No: 21/21/312 at the Land Registry Office, Ibadan the Olukosi family conveyed the land to Messrs Saka Owoade, Emiola Amusa Adeleke and one Samuel Adeyemi Laniyoun who later released his own part of the land to Saka Owoade and Emiola Amusa Adeleke for valuable consideration. His claim is that Messrs Saka Owoade and Emiola Amusa Adeleke conveyed the disputed land to Mrs Kofoworola Abeni Pratt who conveyed same to him in 1975 vide a land agreement dated 15th May 1975.
The Appellant denied the facts presented by the Plaintiff and emphasized that the land in their possession, which is situate, lying and being along South West Ring Road, Ibadan covering an area of 967.288 square meters (0.96 hectares) does not form part of the land comprised in the Respondent’s Plan No: OG/138/63 dated 12th June 1963. They claim the 1st Appellant’s predecessor in title (Mr. Lawrence Famose) derived his interest in the disputed land by purchase from one Mr. M. Ola Ibrahim who derived his title under and by virtue of a Statutory Right of Occupancy dated the 15th of November 1985 and registered as No. 49 at page 49 in volume 2637 of the Lands Registry, Ibadan. They denied the land was ever called Idi-Orogbo Area, Oke-Ado, Ibadan. They also denied the land ever resided in the Olukosi Family who they said never exercised acts of possession on the land.
At the end of the trial, the trial Judge granted the claim of the Respondent in part and further awarded general damages in the sum of N100, 000 as well as cost in the sum of N20, 000.00 against the Appellant in favour of the Respondent.
Being dissatisfied with the decision of the trial Court, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.
ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION
The Court determined the appeal based on the following issues for determination:
(i) Was the trial Judge right in holding that the identity of the disputed land is clear and not ambiguous
(ii) Did the learned trial Judge come to a correct decision when he held that the Claimant/Respondent proved his title to the disputed land
(iii) Did the Claimant/Respondent show evidence of better title to warrant the trial Judge make an Order of possession and injunction in his favour
(iv) Having dismissed all the heads of damages claimed by the Respondent, was the learned trial Judge right in law to proceed and award Claimant/Respondent N100,000.00 as general damages
(v) Did the trial Judge come to a correct and reasonable decision when he held that the defence of statute of limitation was not available to the Defendants/ Appellants.
In the final analysis, the Court of Appeal found that appeal lacked merit and it was dismissed. The judgment of the Oyo State High Court was accordingly affirmed.
- LAND LAW – IDENTITY OF LAND: Duty of a plaintiff/claimant to establish the area of land in dispute; when the identity of land will not be in issue
- LAND LAW – CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY: Conditions for the validity of a Certificate of Occupancy
- LIMITATION LAW – LIMITATION PERIOD: How to determine the period of Limitation; Effect of action caught by a Limitation Law
- DAMAGES – GENERAL DAMAGES: Guiding principles for the award of general damages for trespass
- 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