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Jibo v. Gambo

DIBA DAN JIBO

V

  1. BALA GAMBO
  2. HASHIMU BALA MANGA

COURT OF APPEAL

( SOKOTO DIVISION )

AHMAD OLAREWAJU BELGORE JCA ( Presided )

TUNDE OYEBANJI AWOTOYE JCA

JAMES SHEHU ABIRIYI JCA ( Read the Lead Judgment )

CA/S/55/2009

TUESDAY, 5 MARCH 2013

LAND LAW - Land - Title to - Declaration of - Claimant for - Onus on to succeed on strength of own case and not rely on weakness of defence - Land claimed - Identity of - Mandatoriness of to establish - When unnecessary

LAND LAW - Ownership of land - Proof of - Five ways therefor Sufficiency of one therefor

LAND LAW - Locus in quo - Visit to - Power of trial court to conduct Statutoriness of - Evidence at - Effect of - Discretionary powers of to make suo motu - Exercise of - Proper approach to - Evidence Act, section 76(c) considered

EVIDENCE -  Locus in quo - Visit to - Power of trial court to conduct -  Statutoriness of - Evidence at - Effect of - Discretionary powers of to make suo motu - Exercise of - Proper approach to - Evidence Act, section 76(c) considered

STATUTE - Evidence Act, section 76(c) - Locus in quo - Visit to - Power of trial court to conduct - Statutoriness of - Evidence at - Effect of - Discretionary powers of to make suo motu - Exercise of Proper approach to

Issues:

  1. Whether the identity of the land in dispute was clearly demarcated, ascertained and proved at the trial to warrant the trial court making a declaration of a right of occupancy in favour of the respondents.
  2. Whether the trial court was justified in law by making use of a report of inspection on a visit to a locus in quo in arriving at its conclusion when full details of the visit and evidence given thereat was not made part of the proceedings.
  3. Whether on the state of pleadings and evidence led at the trial court, the respondents are entitled to succeed in their claim for declaration to a right of occupancy and other reliefs claimed at the trial court.

Facts:

The plaintiff, now respondents commenced an action in the High Court of Kebbi State, claiming against the defendant, now appellant, an order for declaration of title to the disputed land, declaring the 1st plaintiff as the person entitled to statutory right of occupancy of the land, order ejecting the defendant from the land and damages. The plaintiffs relied on traditional evidence as the basis of their claim to ownership of the land and that they had been farming on the land for about thirty-nine years before the defendant trespassed thereon. The defendant however denied plaintiffs’ claims, averring that he had inherited the land from his father who loaned part of the land to people to farm among who was the person left on the land by the plaintiffs to farm on it. The trial court conducted a locus in quo and thereafter granted plaintiffs’ claims. The defendant not satisfied, appealed to the Court of Appeal challenging the lower court’s decision on grounds that the plaintiffs failed to establish their case to warrant grant of their claims and it erred by relying on report of the locus in quo when full details of the visit was not made part of the proceedings.