“For a certificate of occupancy to be valid it must be issued after the grant of a right of occupancy under Section 5 (1) (a) or Section 6 (l)(a) and (b) or Section 34(1) of the Land Use Act. A certificate of occupancy must not be issued when there is in existence another one issued over same land. In Madu Vs Madu (2008) 6 NWLR (Pt. 1083) P. 286 @ 325, the Supreme Court held that for a certificate of occupancy, under the Land Use Act, to be valid, there must not be in existence, at the time the certificate was issued, a statutory or customary owner of the land in issue who was not divested of his legal interest to the land prior to the grant. However, this principle of law is only relevant in cases where a claimant has proved that he has a prior and un-extinguished title to the land so that the new right of occupancy cannot over-ride, extinguish or have priority over that existing right. In Apostolic Church Vs Olawolemi (1990) 10 SCNJ P. 69 @ 25, the Supreme Court also held that if the issuance of a certificate of occupancy was not in accordance with the Land Use Act, the certificate is defective and the holder has no basis for a valid claim title over the land. See also Azi Vs Reg. Trustees Of Evan. Church (1990) 5 NWLR (Pt. 195) P. 111 @ 121”.
— I.S. Bdliya, JCA. Umar Ibrahim v Nasiru Danladi Mu’azu & 2 Ors. (2022) – CA/G/317/2019