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  • Aminu v. Ogunyebi
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  • 2004-08-23
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Aminu v. Ogunyebi

ALHAJI IBRAHIM T. AMINU

V

MRS. ELIZABETH ONAOLAPO OGUNYEBI

ALAHAJI SHEU A. YUSUF

COURT OF APPEAL

( ILORIN DIVISION )

PATRICK IBE AMAIZU, JCA (Presided and Read the Lead Judgment)

WALTER SAMUEL NKANU ONNOGHEN, JCA

JA’AFARU MIKA’ILU, JCA

CA/IL/29/2002

TUESDAY, 2ND DECEMBER, 2003 

COMMERCIAL LAW - Receipt for purchase money - Purpose of

CRIMINAL LAW AND PROCEDURE - forgery - Party alleging forgery Duty on

CUSTOMARY LAW - Whether valid sale of land can be conducted under native law and custom

DAMAGES - Action in damages - Whether lies in all trespass cases

EVIDENCE - Hearsay - Evidence of statement made to a witness by a person not called as witness - When same becomes hearsay -Whether admissible

EVIDENCE - Onus of Proof - Onus of proving better title - On whom rest where defendant in a suit counter-claims

EVIDENCE - Proof - proof of payment of money and possession in land matters - Whether sufficient to defeat title of subsequent purchasers

of legal estate

LAND LAW - Certificate of occupancy - Validity of - What determines same

LAND LAW - Deed of conveyance - Sale of land without execution of a formal deed of conveyance -Effect of

LAND LAW - Possession - Concurrent possession of land - Whether possible in law

LAND LAW - Possession - Where there are two claimants to ownership of a parcel of land - Who is considered among same to be in actual possession

LAND LAW - ‘Possession of land’ - Meaning of

LAND LAW - Purchaser of legal estate - Title of - Whether proof of payment of money and possession is sufficient to defeat same

LAND LAW - Sale of land - Whether valid sale of land can be conducted under native law and custom

LAND LAW - Title - Purchaser under English law - What gives same title

LAND LAW - Title to land - Where two parties are tracing their title in respect of the same parcel of land to the same grantor - Who among them cannot maintain an action against the other

LAND LAW - Title to land - Onus of proving better title - On whom rest where defendant in a suit counter-claims

LAND LAW - Trespass - Whether action in damages lies in all cases of

PLEADINGS - Object of - Bindingness of on parties WORDS AND PHASES - ‘Possession of land’ - Meaning of

Issues:

1.              Who between the appellant and 1st respondent has a better title to the land in dispute?

2.              Whether the award of N100,000.00 damages against the appellant can be justified in law.

Facts:

The 1st respondent as plaintiff instituted this action claiming against the appellant, title to the land in dispute, damages and injunction restraining the appellant from further act of trespass on the said land. The appellant equally counter-claimed.

It was the respondents’ case that the 1st respondent who is resident in Lagos, sometime in 1986, requested her brother-in-law (PW2) to look for land for her in Ilorin to purchase. When PW2 later found a parcel of land which was to be sold, he informed her. She came to Ilorin to inspect the land. She liked it and negotiated with the owner, the 2nd respondent who gave evidence as DW5 for the purchase of the land. The parties agreed on the purchase price of N12,000.00. She paid the amount, and the 2nd respondent handed her the original of the documents relating to the land including a building plan.

The land has an uncompleted building on it. The building has two flats of three bedrooms each, which were at lintel level. And, it was not roofed. After the payment, she went into occupation. She was advised by PW2 to fence the compound, which she did. She put PW2 in charge of the property. It is the evidence of PW2 that he planted maize on the land for sometime.

In 1997, the 1st respondent evinced an intention to complete the building. To this end, she requested PW2 to give her an estimate of the work that has to be done to complete the building. When PW2 went to the site to carry the assignment he discovered that the building had been roofed. He informed the 1st respondent who in turn instructed her lawyer to put up a notice to the effect that the building belonged to her. It was when the appellant read the notice that he contacted her lawyer claiming also ownership of the property.

The appellant claimed he bought the land from one Mrs. Oganah. It is his evidence that Mrs. Oganah took him to Barrister Akinmade, who confirmed that he sold the land to her. It was then that Mrs. Oganah told him in the presence of his brother DW1, that she retired as a nursing sister and wanted to go home. She told him that she misplaced the original title deeds relating to the land but that she had the photocopies. They agreed on the purchase price. He paid her the purchase price of N31,000.00 and was given a receipt. He immediately went into possession. He roofed the building and gradually tried to complete it. It was in 1997 that he saw a notice pasted on the walls of the building. The 1st respondent claimed in the said notice that she was the owner of the building.

The 2nd respondent in his evidence admitted that he sold the land and the uncompleted building on it to the 1st respondent. It is his evidence that he bought the land in 1986 from Mrs. Oganah. He paid N6,000.00 for the land. After the purchase, he was given the original of the documents in respect of the land. He sold the land in that year to the 1st respondent. He handed the original of the documents to the 1st respondent.

At the conclusion of the trial, the trial court found for the respondent and dismissed the appellant’s counter-claim.

Being dissatisfied, the appellant has appealed to the Court of Appeal.