DUDU ADDAH & ORS VS. HASSAN SAHI UBANDAWAKI
Legalpedia Electronic Citation: LER[2015}SC. 7/2012
Areas of Law:
LAND LAW, PRACTICE AND PROCEDURE, APPEAL, EVIDENCE, ACTION
Summary of Facts:
The Plaintiffs/Appellants instituted an action against the Defendant/Respondent at the High Court of Kebbi State seeking a declaration that they were entitled to the land in dispute. The trial Court gave judgment in favour of the Plaintiffs/Appellants. Dissatisfied with the judgment of the trial Court, the Defendant/Respondent appealed to the Court of Appeal where the judgment of the trial Court was set aside. The Plaintiffs/Appellants has further appealed to the apex court.
ISSUE FOR DETERMINATION
Whether in consideration of the pleadings vis-à-vis the evidence led, the lower court was not in error when it held that the land in dispute was not identified by the appellants
OWNERSHIP OF LAND – WAYS OF PROVING OWNERSHIP OF LAND
“It is now settled that there are five ways to which ownership of land may be proved
FIRSTLY, ownership of land may be proved by traditional evidence.
SECONDLY, ownership of land may be proved by production of documents of title which must of course be duly authenticated in the sense that their due execution must be proved.
THIRDLY, acts of ownership extending over a sufficient length of time and are numerous and positive enough to warrant the inference that the person is the true owner (See: Ekpo v. Ita 11 NLR 680)
FOURTHLY, acts of long possession and enjoyment of land which may be prima facie evidence of ownership of the particular piece or parcel of land or quantity of land (See: section 45 of the Evidence Act.)
FINALLY, proof of possession of connected or adjacent land in circumstances rendering it probable that the owner of such connected or adjacent land, would in addition be the owner of the land in dispute.” PER J. A. FABIYI, J.S.C.
PROOF OF ROOT OF TITLE – A PERSON WHO RELIES ON TRADITIONAL HISTORY AS ROOT OF TITLE, MUST PLEAD THE NAMES AND HISTORY OF HIS ANCESTORS AND LEAD EVIDENCE ON SAME
“The law is now well established and settled that where a person relies on traditional history as his root of title, the onus is on him to plead the root of title and names and history of his ancestors. He should lead evidence to establish same without any missing link. See: Anyanwu v.Mbera (1992) 5 NWLR (Pt. 242) 386; Akinloye v. Eyiola (1968) 2 NMLR 92; Owoade v. Omitola (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt. 77) 413.”PER J. A. FABIYI, J.S.C.
COURT- A COURT HAS NO JURISDICTION TO SUPPLY ANY MISSING LINK IN A PARTY’S SUIT
“A court has no jurisdiction to supply any missing link in a genealogical tree from progenitor to a claimant.”PER J. A. FABIYI, J.S.C
DECLARATORY RELIEF – A PARTY WHO SEEKS A DECLARATION IN TITLE TO LAND MUST PROVE HIS CASE IRRESPECTIVE OF THE WEAKNESS IN THE DEFENDANT’S CASE
“That the weakness of the defendant’s case in a land suit touching on declarations, as herein, does not assist the plaintiff’s case. He swims or sinks with his own case. See: Animashanu v. Olojo (1991) 10 SCNJ, 143; Dantata v. Mohammed (2002) 7 NWLR (Pt. 664) 176; Ekundayo v. Baruwa (1965) 2 NWLR 211; Nwokidu v. Okanu (2010) 3 NWLR (Pt. 1181) 362 and Dumez Nig. Ltd. v. Nwakhoba (2008) 18 NWLR (Pt. 1119) 361 at 373-374 wherein it was graphically captured that the burden of proof on the plaintiff in establishing declaratory reliefs to the satisfaction of the court is quite heavy in the sense that such declaratory reliefs are not granted even on admission by the defendant where the plaintiff fails to establish his entitlements to the declaration by his own evidence.”PER J. A. FABIYI,J.S.C.
PROOF OF TITLE TO LAND- A PARTY CLAIMING TITLE TO LAND MUST DESCRIBE THE LAND WITH CERTAINTY
“It is apt to remind the parties the salient ‘principle of definitive certainty’. It is that in this type of claim by the appellants, the land must be described clearly and sufficiently so that a Surveyor can, using the description, produce a plan of the land in dispute. See: Arabe v. Asanlu (1980) 5-7 SC 78, and Efetiroroje v. Okpaleke 11 (1991) 5 NWLR (Pt. 193) 517.”PER J. A. FABIYI,J.S.C.
COURT- DUTY OF COURT NOT TO SET UP A DIFFERENT CASE FOR PARTIES
“No judge should embark upon deliberate falsehood or go on his own voyage to furnish imaginary evidence on the identity of the land in dispute. After all, a judge should not set up for parties a case different from the one established by cold facts supplied by the parties as well as their pleadings. See: Oniah v. Onyiah (1989) 1 NWLR (Pt. 99) 514 and Ojo-Osagie v. Adonri (1994) 6 NWLR (Pt. 349) 131.” PER J. A. FABIYI,J.S.C.
PLEADINGS – PARTIES AND THE COURT ARE BOUND BY PLEADINGS AND ANY EVIDENCE AT VARIANCE WITH PLEADINGS MUST BE DISREGARDED BY THE COURT
“Parties and the court are bound by the pleadings filed by the parties. Any evidence at variance with pleadings must be disregarded by the court. In short, the unrelated evidence adduced by appellants’ witnesses must be disregarded. See: Emegokwe v. Okadigbo (1973) All NLR 314 at 317; NIPC v. Thompson Organisation (1969) All NLR 134 at 138.”PER J. A. FABIYI, J.S.C.
COURT – A COURT CANNOT BE A WITNESS AS WELL AS AN ADJUDICATOR IN A CASE
“It is a witness or witnesses that have the duty to give evidence and it does not lie within the competence of a court to assume the role of a witness. In other words, in a situation where a court proceeds to ascribe that role to itself, it will be tantamount to exceeding its constitutional duty of adjudication. Such role is not recognized in our judicial procedure. Put differently, a court cannot both be a witness as well as an adjudicator.” PER C. BATA-OGUNBIYI, JSC
STATUTES REFERRED TO:
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