Legalpedia Electronic Citation: LER SC.496/2016
APPEAL NO: SC.496/2016
AREAS OF LAW:
APPEAL, LAND LAW, LAW OF EVIDENCE, PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE
SUMMARY OF FACTS:
In 1992, the Respondent applied for allocation of a piece of land from the Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing. By an offer of leasehold interest in 1997, the Federal Government, offered the Respondent leasehold interest in the plot of land which is carved out from the property of the Federal Government situate at No. 17 Degel 2, Anguwan Rimi, Kaduna, under certain terms and conditions including the payment of premium and annual grounds rents in the sum of ₦15,000 and ₦500 respectively, which the Respondent accepted and complied with. The Appellant as an occupier of another part of the above mentioned property, took advantage of the policy of alienation of the Federal Government properties for sitting occupier, applied to the Implementation Committee of the Alienation of the Federal Government landed properties for allocation of the property being occupied by him and same was granted by way of lease to him in 2010. When the Respondent took possession of the carved out plot allocated to him being No.l7B Degel 2, Anguwan Rimi, Kaduna and developed a structure therein, the Appellant resisted and insisted that the allocation made to him is inclusive of the carved out plot allocated to the Respondent. The Respondent then wrote a letter to the committee for clarification as to the validity of the allocation of the carved out plot made to him, and the Implementation Committee confirmed the alienation allocation of the said carved out plot to the Respondent, via a letter. In spite of the above, the Appellant did not allow the Respondent free access to the said plot of land, which resulted in an action filed at the High Court of Kaduna State by the Respondent. At the conclusion of the trial, the court gave judgment in favour of the Respondent. Dissatisfied, the Appellant appealed to the Court of Appeal, which also upheld the decision of the trial court hence, a further appeal before this court.
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ISSUES FOR DETERMINATION:
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ADMISSIBILITY OF DOCUMENT- IMPLICATION OF A FAILURE TO RAISE OBJECTION TO THE ADMISSIBILITY OF A DOCUMENT SOUGHT TO BE TENDERED ON TRIAL
“The law is trite and well settled too, that if party fails to raise objection to the admissibility of a document tendered by an opposite part, the person/party who fails to object to the admission of such document, cannot later raise the issue of admission of the document by the trial court at the appellate court. See Alade vs Olukade (1976)2 SC 183 at 119; Raimi v Akintoye (1986)3 NWLR (pt.26)97. The doctrine of estoppel by conduct is even applicable on that.” PER A. SANUSI, J.S.C.
CERTIFICATION OF DOCUMENT – WHETHER SECONDARY EVIDENCE OF PRIVATE DOCUMENTS REQUIRE CERTIFICATION
“I must reiterate here, that Exhibits PI, P3 and P5 constitute documents authored or written by the respondent and to my mind those exhibits are private documents by virtue of the provisions of Section 103 of the Evidence Act and therefore though photocopies, they do not require any certification. PER A. SANUSI, J.S.C.
PUBLIC DOCUMENTS – WHETHER PUBLIC DOCUMENTS REQUIRE CERTIFICATION
“With regard to Exhibits P2, P4, P6 and P7 such document are surely public documents within the meaning or definition by Section 102(a) (1) and (2) of the Evidence Act, since they were original documents executed or made by public officers or public agency while carrying out official act. Such documents being public document do not also therefore require any certification. See PDP v INEC (2014) 17 NWLR (pt.l437) 525 at 563; Invest Ltd vs Witt & Bush Ltd (2011) 8 NWLR (pt.l250) 500 at 527.” PER A. SANUSI, J.S.C.
ADMISSIBILITY OF EVIDENCE – WHETHER EVIDENCE PROCURED DURING THE PENDENCY OF A SUIT IS ADMISSIBLE
“The law is trite, that evidence procured during the pendency or in anticipation of a case is not admissible in law. See Abdullahi Vs Hashim (1999)4 NWRL (pt.600)638 at 645; Anyawu vs Uzowuola (2009)13 NWLR (pt.H59)445 at 476.” PER A. SANUSI, J.S.C.
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TITLE TO LAND – WAYS OF ESTABLISHING A CLAIM OF TITLE TO LAND
“It has for long been a settled law, that claim of title to a land can be established in any of the following five ways or modes, namely:-
See Idundun v Okumagba (1976)940 SC 227. In an effort to prove title to land the plaintiff always has the onus to prove his title in any or more of the above mentioned ways and to prove acts of ownership sufficient enough to warrant the inference that he as the claimant, is the exclusive owner of the land claimed. See Nwabisi vs Idigo (1957) SCNJ 76.” PER A. SANUSI, J.S.C.
DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND – WHETHER A CLAIMANT OF TITLE TO LAND CAN RELY ON THE WEAKNESS OF THE DEFENDANT’S CASE TO PROVE ITS OWN CASE
“The plaintiff or the claimant of title must satisfy the court that he is entitled on the evidence adduced by him to obtain such declaration of title. In other words, the claimant or plaintiff must rely on the strength of his own case and NOT to rely the weakness of the defendant’s case, See Itauma v Akpe-Ime (2001)7 SC (pt. II) 24.” PER A. SANUSI, J.S.C.
IDENTITY OF LAND – WHETHER PROOF OF IDENTITY OF THE LAND IS NECESSARY WHERE SAME IS KNOWN TO BOTH PARTIES
“The principle, well established since Baruwa v. Ogunshola (1938) 4 W.A.C.A 159, is that the onus is on the Plaintiff who seeks a declaration of title to land to show clearly the area of land to which his claim relates. Where, however, the parties themselves know the portion of land in dispute this principle does not strictly apply.” PER E. EKO, J.S.C.
ADMISSIBILITY – WHETHER A LAW OF THE HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY OF A STATE CAN RENDER INADMISSIBLE A PIECE OF EVIDENCE ADMISSIBLE UNDER THE EVIDENCE ACT
“A piece of evidence admissible in evidence under the Evidence Act cannot be rendered inadmissible in evidence by any law enacted by the House of Assembly of any State.” PER E. EKO, J.S.C.
DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND – EXCEPTION TO THE RULE THAT A PARTY SEEKING DECLARATION OF TITLE TO LAND MUST SUCCEED ON THE STRENGTH OF HIS OWN CASE
“In order to establish a claim for declaration of title, the claimant has the burden of proving his claim by a preponderance of evidence. He must succeed on the strength of his own case and not the weakness of the defence, if any. It is also settled that he would not be entitled to a declaration even upon admission by the defence. See; Onwogbufor Vs Okoye (1996) 1 NWLR (Pt.424) 252; Momoh Vs Umoru (2011) 15 NWLR (Pt.1270) 217: Akinduro Vs Alava (2007) 6 SC (Pt II) 120.An exception to the general rule is where there are averments in the statement of defence and/or evidence led by the defence, which supports the claimant’s case. See: Akinola Vs Oluwo (1962) 1SCNLR 352: Bello Vs Eweka (1981) 1 SC 101: Kodilinye Vs Odie (1935) 2 WACA 336 @ 337: Woluchem Vs Gudi (1981) 5 SC 291.” PER K.M.O. KEKERE-EKUN, J.S.C.
STATUTES REFERRED TO:
Evidence Act, 2011
Lands instrument Registration Law Cap 85 Vol.2 laws of Kaduna State 1991