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  • Madu v. Madu
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  • 2002-11-11
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Madu v. Madu

DR. BERTRAM MADU

V

GRACE MADU

COURT OF APPEAL

( ABUJA DIVISION )

MUHAMMAD S. MUNTAKA-COOMASSIE, JCA ( Presided )

ZAINAB A. BULKACHUWA, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

ALBERT GBADEBO ODUYEMI, JCA

CA/A/22/2000

12 TH APRIL,  2002

COURT - Trial court - Duty on where rebuttal is raised against presumption raised by grant of certificate of occupancy is rebutted

EQUITY - Holder of legal title to a property - When equity converts same to a trustee

LAND LAW - Action for declaration of title to land - Plaintiff therein Onus thereon

LAND LAW - Certificate of occupancy - Grant of - Presumption raised thereby - Duty on trial court where rebuttal is raised against same

LAND LAW - Claim for declaration of title to land - Onus placed on plaintiff therein - Failure to discharge same - Effect

LAND LAW - Ownership of land - Five methods of establishing same

MATRIMONIAL CAUSES - Customary marriage - Polygamous marriage contracted thereunder - Whether there can be implied gift to any of the wives

PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE - Claim for declaration of title to land -

Onus placed on plaintiff therein - Failure to discharge same - Effect

TRUST - ‘Resulting trust’ - Meaning and nature of

TRUST - Constructive trust - Why and how equity imposes same

TRUST - Holder of legal title to a property - When equity converts same to a trustee

WORDS AND PHRASES - ‘Resulting trust’ - Meaning of

Issues:

1.            Since issues were joined by both sides to the dispute as to who provided the money for the procurement or allotment of the plot of land in dispute, did the lower court properly discharge its judicial function by its failure to resolve such vital issue one way or the other?

2.            Was the learned trial Judge right in giving judgment in favour of the plaintiff/respondent when she did not prove the claims she set up in that court?

3.            Whether the fact that land was acquired in the name of the plaintiff/respondent without more and on the understanding of both parties entitled the respondent to lay claim to the property.

4.            Whether failure to consider the defence of the defendant to the action did not lead to a miscarriage of justice and unfair trial of the suit.

Facts:

The respondent herein married the appellant in 1976 in West Germany and they separated in 1993. In 1990 she applied to the Federal Capital Development Authority for a plot which application was approved and plot 327  Wuse II Abuja was allocated to her. It was the appellant’s case that he applied for the plot in the name of the respondent during the subsistence of their marriage with her consent. That  he made all payments in respect of the plot to the FCDA sometime through his banks, Savannah Bank and Union Bank Plc with receipt issued to him which he tendered as exhibits before the trial court. That subsequently he signed for and collected the Certificate of Occupancy and later erected a building thereon and put tenant on it. That the marriage between them is traditional. When the appellant refused to return the Certificate of Occupancy to the respondent, the respondent instituted an action before the trial court and claimed declaration that she, the respondent, is the owner/allottee of the plot covered by Certificate of Occupancy No. FCT/ABU/AN 2685; declaration that she is entitled to immediate possession of the said Certificate of Occupancy; an order of perpetual injunction restraining the appellant from further trespassing into the said plot; and N5 million general damages for trespass; alternatively N5 million general damages for waste.

At the end of the trial, the trial court found and declared that the respondent is the rightful owner of the disputed Certificate of Occupancy and ordered the appellant to deposit same with the registrar of the court within 7 days of the judgment and awarded nominal damages of N100,000 against the appellant. Being dissatisfied, the appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal.