⦿ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Emmanuel Atume v. Raymond Pwanogoshin Bakodo (2020) – CA
by NSA PaulPipAr
⦿ AREA OF LAW
– Land law.
– Proof of title to land.
– Revocation of land.
Raymond Pwanogoshin Bakodo
Court of Appeal
⦿ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Abdullahi Mahmud Bayero, J.C.A.
* FOR THE APPELLANT
– M.P. Atsev, Esq.
* FOR THE RESPONDENT
– Chris Ezewenlu, Esq.
⦿ FACT (as relating to the issues)
This Appeal germinated from the judgment of the Adamawa State High Court delivered on 17th October, 2019 by Nathan Musa J.
By an amended statement of claim, the Respondent/Plaintiff sought for the following reliefs before the lower Court:
1) A declaration that by virtue of the Certificate of Occupancy No. GS/13993 dated 12th December, 2006, the Plaintiff is entitled to right of use and occupation of all that parcel of land lying, being and situate at Namtari District, Yola South Local Government Area of Adamawa State.
2) N500,000 (Five Hundred Thousand Naira) only, general damages against the Defendant for trespass.
3) An Order of perpetual injunction restraining the Defendant, his servants, agents and/or privies from further fomenting acts of trespass on the said parcel of land in any manner whatsoever.
To prove his case, the Respondent/Plaintiff gave evidence as PW1 and called one more witness, tendered Exhibit A (Grant of Right of Occupancy), Exhibit B (Certificate of Occupancy) and Exhibit C (A Receipt).
The Appellant/Defendant called two witnesses (DW1 and DW2), tendered Exhibit D (A purchase receipt), E (Sales Agreement), F (Grant of Right of occupancy), G (Document from the Ministry of Land showing the return of the land to Alhaji Saidu Sale), H (Grant of Right of Occupancy) and J (A site plan). The lower Court entered judgment for the Respondent/Plaintiff.
Dissatisfied, the Appellant filed a Notice of Appeal with leave granted on 23rd March, 2017.
1. Whether the learned Trial Court Judge was right when he held that the Plaintiff has proved all his claims before the Court on the preponderance of evidence?
2. Whether the learned Trial Court Judge was right when he granted reliefs not sought?
3. Whether the learned Trial Court Judge was right when he entered Judgment for the Plaintiff on proceedings conducted under extant rules?
⦿ RESOLUTION OF ISSUE(S)
1. ISSUE 1 WAS RESOLVED AGAINST THE APPELLANT BUT IN FAVOUR OF THE RESPONDENT.
i. During cross examination, the Appellant admitted that there is no where in Exhibit B (the C of O issued to the Respondent) that it was revoked.
ii. Exhibit G as reproduced above is vague and does not in anyway refer to Exhibit B talk less of revoking same. In other words, Exhibit G did not give any notice to the Respondent revoking his Certificate of Occupancy (Exhibit B).
iii. The lower Court was therefore on a sound footing when it held in its judgment at Pages 159 – 160 of the printed record that:- “…As rightly submitted by Counsel to plaintiff, the failure of the defendant to tender a letter of revocation of the C of O (Exhibit B) or call an official of the revocation body to testify is fatal to this claim of the defendant. It has been held in plethora of cases that a C of O remains valid until is revoked through due process. Any irregular method adopted renders it null and void.”
2. FOR ISSUE 2, THE COURT STATED, “On issue 2, it is important to note that the consequential orders made by the trial judge were necessary because Exhibit B (the Certificate of Occupancy) contains the beacons with the numbers that demarcated the Respondent’s land. The evidence led at Page 130 of the Printed Record shows that the beacons were removed by unknown persons. Issue 2 is therefore resolved in favour of the Respondent and against the Appellant.”.
3. FOR ISSUE 3, THE COURT STATED, “As to issue 2, that the lower Court conducted the trial under the 1987 Adamawa State High Court Civil Procedure Rules, while the 2013 Rules came into effect before the trial was concluded, it is important to note that Order 3 Rules (2) and (3) of the 2013 Rules provides that non-compliance with the Rules shall be treated as a mere irregularity and does not render the proceedings null and void. Issue 2 is therefore resolved in favour of the Respondent and against the Appellant.”.
⦿ SOME PROVISION(S)
Section 28(6) of the Land Use Act provides:- “The revocation of a right of occupancy shall be signified under the hand of a public officer duly authorized in that behalf by the Governor and notice thereof shall be given to the holder.”.
Section 28(7) of the same Act provides that:- “The title of the holder of the right of occupancy shall be extinguished on receipt by him of a notice given under sub Section 6.”
⦿ RELEVANT CASE(S)
Kandix HD v. Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice C.R.S. this Court held that:- “The purpose of giving notice of revocation of a right of occupancy is to duly inform the holder thereof, the steps being taken to extinguish his right of occupancy. In the absence of a proper notice of revocation of right of occupancy, the purported revocation of that right of occupancy by the Governor or officer duly authorized by the Governor is ineffectual.”
⦿ CASE(S) RELATED
⦿ NOTABLE DICTA
It is trite that in land matters, whoever claims declaration of title to land must succeed on the strength of his case and not on the weakness of the defence. – Bayero, J.C.A. Atume v. Bakodo (2020)