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WHERE PARTY BASIS HIS TITLE ON GRANT BY CUSTOM IS TO PROVE GRANTOR’S TITLE

Dictum

This court has made it clear in several decisions that if a party bases its title on a grant according to custom by a particular family or community, that party must go further to plead and prove the origin of the title of that particular person, family or community unless that title has been admitted. See on this Mogaji v. Cadbury Nigeria Ltd. (1985) 2 N.W.L.R. (Pt. 7) 393 at 431 also Elias v. Omo-Bare (1982) 5 S.C.25 at pp.57-58.

— Nnaemeka-Agu, JSC. Ogunleye v Oni (1990) – S.C. 193/1987

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PAYMENT OF PURCHASE PRICE GIVES THE PURCHASER AN EQUITABLE TITLE

Viewed even from the standpoint of the common law, payment of purchase price coupled with possession gives the purchaser an equitable title and he is entitled to seek an order of specific performance to compel the vendor to convey legal title to him. But where the purchaser price is not fully paid, the purchaser will have no right to enforce specific performance – see Hewe v. Smith (1884) 27 Ch D 89, a case relied on by the learned trial judge.

— M.E. Ogundare, JSC. Odusoga v Ricketts (1997) – SC.57/1990

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PURCHASER OF REGISTERED LAND IS NOT AFFECTED BY NOTICE

Thus a purchaser of registered land is not affected with notice either actual or constructive, of any unregistered estate, interest or claim which affects the estate of his vendor. The estate of a first registered owner for value is free from unregistered estate, interest or claim affecting the land. It is not limited by any interest adverse to or in derogation of his title subsisting or capable of arising at the time of first registration. The plaintiff having tendered the documents enumerated above ought to have been declared owner of the parcel of land and if the courts below had appreciated the basic idea behind registration of title under cap, 166, Laws of Lagos State, 1994 and its incidents, their decisions would have been different. There is no way the defendants can successfully challenge the title of the plaintiff short of the rectification of the register in accordance with sections 60 and 61 of the law, Since that was not the case, the title of the plaintiff in respect of plots 89, 91 and 93 remains indefeasible.

— Ogwuegbu, JSC. Onagoruwa & Ors. v. Akinremi (2001) – SC.191/1997

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DUTY OF PARTY CLAIMING LAND THROUGH HISTORY OF OWNERSHIP

The law is clear that it is not enough for a plaintiff seeking a declaration of title to land to lead evidence to trace his title to a particular person. He must go beyond that to establish by credible evidence the root of that person’s title otherwise title will not be declared in him: See Mogaji v. Cadbury Nigeria Ltd. (1985) 2 NWLR (Pt.7) 393; (1985) 7 SC 59; Ogunleye v. Oni (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt.135) 745; Uche v. Eke (1992) 2 NWLR (pt.224) 433.

— Uwaifo, JSC. Olohunde v. Adeyoju (2000) – SC.15/1995

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WHETHER A CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY CONSTITUTE A VALID TITLE TO LAND IN FAVOUR OF THE GRANTEE

“A certificate of occupancy issued under the Land Use Act is not conclusive evidence of any interest or valid title to the land in favour of the grantee. It is only a prima facie evidence of such right, interest or title without more, and may, in appropriate cases, be challenged and rendered invalid, null and void. Consequently where it is proved, that another person, other than the grantee of a certificate of occupancy had a better title to the land, the Court may set it aside on the ground that it is invalid, defective or spurious. See also the following decided cases by the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal: Dsungwe Vs Gbishe; Ogunleye Vs Oni (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt. 135) P. 745; Saude Vs Abdullahi; Olohunde Vs Adeyoju and Lababedi Vs Lagos Metal Ind. Ltd (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt. 135) P. 745.”

— I.S. Bdliya, JCA. Umar Ibrahim v Nasiru Danladi Mu’azu & 2 Ors. (2022) – CA/G/317/2019

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CANNOT SET UP A ROOT OF TITLE DIFFERENT FROM VENDOR

The court below was therefore right, in my view, in holding that this could not be so in that 2nd Respondent who derived his title from the Respondent cannot set up a root of title different from that of his Vendor. He must either sink or swim with him, it being that a Vendor can only pass to the purchasers whatever title he has. See Fasoro v. Beyioku (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 76) 263.

— Dike & Ors. V. Francis Okoloedo & Ors. (SC.116/1993, 15 Jul 1999)

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REQUIRED EVIDENCE TO PROVE TRADITIONAL HISTORY

What are the averments which a party relying on traditional histories or evidence must incorporate into their pleadings? The Supreme Court in Lebile v. The Registered Trustees of Cherubium and Seraphim Church of Zion of Nigeria, Ugbonla and Ors. (2003) 2 NWLR (Pt.804) 399 per the judgment of Uwaifo, J.S.C. provided the answer at pages 418/419 thus: “It cannot be too often said that a party who relies on traditional history (which a claim to the finding of a village or town implies) would need to plead the names of his ancestors to narrate a continuous claim of devolution, not allowing there to be any gap or leading to a prima facie collapse of the traditional history. The history must show how the land by a system of devolution eventually came to be owned by the plaintiff.”

– Aderemi JCA. Irawo v. Adedokun (2004)

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