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Fayehun v. Fasodu

CHIEF OMONIYI FAYEHUN

ABRAHAM AJAYI

NOFIU AJANGBARA

EZEKIEL OLUYIDE

OLU BELLO

ADELEYE ORUNKOYI

DABOKU OLASEINDE

MOBISOLA FASULERE

OLADAPO AWODEYI

V

CHIEF R. A. FADOJU AND 73 OTHERS

SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

ADOLPHUS G. KARIBI-WHYTE,  J.S.C. (Presided)

MICHAEL E. OGUNDARE,  J.S.C. (Read the leading judgment)

ANTHONY I IGUH,  J.S.C.

SAMSON O. UWAIFO,  J.S.C.

EMMANUEL O. AYOOLA,  J.S.C.

SC. 75/1994

FRIDAY 7TH APRIL, 2000

APPEAL - Concurrent findings of facts by two lower courts - Attitude of Supreme Court

LAND LAW - Family land - Alienation of - Governing principles

LAND LAW - Communal land - Alienation of - Whose duty

LAND LAW - Concept of communal land - Position of the chief

LAND LAW - Family land - Irregular sale of - How treated

LAND LAW - Family land - Sale by family head without consent of family members -  Effect

LAND LAW - Family land - Sale by family members without consent of family head - Effect

LAND LAW - Family or communal land - Inalienability of - Whether still absolute

LAND LAW - Sale of family land - How done in Yoruba land

Issue:

Having regard to the circumstances of the case, whether or not the 1st to 4th respondents’ purported sale of the land in dispute (joint family property of the appellants and the 1st - 4th respondents) to the 5th to 74th respondents can be said to be valid.

Facts:

The plaintiff and the first set of defendants, 1st to 4th defendants, are all members of the Ojomu Otenioro family of Akure and the land in dispute is the property of the said family.

After the said land had been laid out into plots by the family, a number of plots were sold to the 2nd set of defendants, 5th to 74th defendants who were joined to the suit by an order of the trial court.

The plaintiffs who claimed to be principal members of the Ojomu Otenioro family alleged that the plots sold to the 2nd set of defendants were sold without their knowledge and consent.  They alleged that the 2nd defendant was not their family head  but only a principal member like the 3rd and 4th defendants and that the 2nd defendant, a son of the 2nd plaintiff and the family secretary, was not a principal member of the family.  They (the plaintiffs), therefore, sought a declaration that the said sales were null and void and of no effect, an order setting aside the sales and perpetual injunction restraining the 5th to 74th defendants and their agents and privies from further trespassing on the said land.

The defendants, however, maintained that the 1st to 4th defendants were the principal members of the family and that the 1st to 4th defendants were authorised with full powers at a family meeting held in the house of the 1st defendant to dispose of the family land.

In the judgment, the trial judge dismissed all the claims of the plaintiffs and, dissatisfied, they appealed to the Court of Appeal and the appeal was dismissed.

Aggrieved with the decision of the Court of Appeal, the plaintiffs/appellants have now appealed to the Supreme Court.

In determining the appeal, the Supreme Court considered the law relating to alienation of family land in Yoruba land.