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  • Chiadi vs. Aggo
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  • 2004-01-19
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Chiadi vs. Aggo

MRS. GRACE CHIADI

MR. HAMILTON CHIADI

( Administratix and Administrator of Estate of Late Anthony Onyegbuna Chiadi)

V

MRS. DEBORAH AGGO

ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF RIVERS STATE

RIVERS STATE HOUSING AND PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY

COURT OF APPEAL

( PORT HARCOURT DIVISION )

MICHAEL EYARUOMA AKPIROROH, JCA ( Presided )

ABOYI JOHN IKONGBEH, JCA

DAVID ADEDOYIN ADENIJI, JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/PH/142/96

THURSDAY, 10TH APRIL, 2003

COURT - Attitude of to expropriation of movable or immovable properties or any interest therein

LAND LAW - Acquisition - Extra-judicial acquisition of property - Effect of

LAND LAW - Expropriation of movable or immovable properties or any interest therein - Attitude of courts thereto

LAND LAW - Lease agreement - Surrender by operation of law - When arise

LAND LAW - States Land Law Cap. 122, Laws of Eastern State of Nigeria -  Section 10 thereof - Whether unconstitutional in view of the mode of passing state land with buildings and improvements erected on it on the determination of any lease agreement to the state under same STATUTE - Expropriatory statutes - How construed

STATUTE - States Land Law Cap. 122, Laws of Eastern State of Nigeria Section 10 thereof - Whether unconstitutional in view of the mode of passing state land with buildings and improvements erected on it on the determination of any lease agreement to the state under same

Issues:

1.              Whether the 2nd and 3rd defendants/respondents had the right to sell the property in dispute..

2.              The legal effect of exhibit D (The Instrument of Transfer).

3.              Who is in possession?

4.              Who brought the property to its present state?

Facts:

The deceased, Anthony Onyegbuna Chiadi, bought the reversion of a lease in his lifetime from one Chukwuma Nwokedi on 24th January, 1964 . He put some uncompleted structures on the land before the war and had to abandon the project during the civil war. In 1973, he obtained a certificate of release of the property issued (to him) by the Rivers State Abandoned Property Authority (exhibit D). He did not however go back to the land as he was residing in Lagos till he died in 1988. Before his death however he applied for the renewal of the lease but did not succeed in getting one till his demise.

After his death, his wife, the 1st plaintiff and son, the 2nd plaintiff as Administratrix and Administrator of the estate of the deceased found the 1st defendant/respondent on the land. She claimed that she bought the property from the Rivers State Government. She continued to live in the property and in fact put tenants in same.

The appellants sued the respondents in the Rivers State High Court sitting at Port Harcourt claiming the following reliefs:

“1. Declaration that the Sale Agreement made between the defendants, registered as No. 9 page 9 volume 96 (9/9/96) Lands Registry Office, Port Harcourt dated 12th January, 1983 is null and void and of no effect whatsoever, in that the said document does not confer any legal title in accordance with Land Use Act, 1978.

2.              Possession of the said property (building) Plot F, Block 151 municipally known as No. 99, Victoria Street.

3.              Perpetual injunction restraining the defendants jointly and severally, their agents, privies and/or servants from interference with the said property (building) without the consent or approval of the plaintiffs.

4.              An order that the first defendant so account for all rents collected on the said building or property from the 12 th January, 1983 till judgment is given in the suit.

5.              Declaration that the plaintiffs are entitled to be issued with statutory rights of occupancy by virtue of deed of assignment registered as No. 46, page 46 volume 578 (46/46/875) Lands Registry, Enugu, now Lands Registry Office, Port Harcourt and which building was released to the plaintiffs by Instrument of Transfer on the order of the then Military Governor on 5th April, 1973 vested in the plaintiffs rights and interest akin to certificate of occupancy.

Alternatively

‘The plaintiffs claim jointly and severally the sum of N850,000.00 (eight hundred and fifty thousand naira only) being value of the said building which the first defendant took possession or title (not conceded) by the act of the second and third defendant, which building the defendant have not paid and/or replacement value given.’”

At the conclusion of the trial, the trial court dismissed the appellants’ claim in its entirety.

Dissatisfied, the appellants have appealed to the Court of Appeal.