➥ CASE SUMMARY OF:
Emmanuel Atume v. Raymond Pwanogoshin Bakodo (2020) – CA
by Branham Chima (SAL).
Court of Appeal – CA/YL/85/2017
➥ JUDGEMENT DELIVERED ON:
ON FRIDAY, THE 10TH DAY OF JANUARY, 2020
➥ AREA(S) OF LAW
Revocation of land;
Certificate of occupancy.
➥ PRINCIPLES OF LAW
⦿ NONCOMPLIANCE WITH THE RULES IS TREATED AS AN IRREGULARITY
As to issue 7, 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. — A.M. Bayero, JCA.
➥ LEAD JUDGEMENT DELIVERED BY:
Abdullahi Mahmud Bayero, J.C.A.
⦿ FOR THE APPELLANT
⦿ FOR THE RESPONDENT
➥ CASE FACT/HISTORY
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.
➥ ISSUE(S) & RESOLUTION(S)
I. Whether the Plaintiff/Respondent proved his title to the land?
RULING: IN RESPONDENT’S FAVOUR.
A. THERE WAS NO VALID REVOCATION OF THE PLAINTIFF/RESPONDENT TITLE
“From the evidence on record, it is clear that while the Respondent’s claim to the land in dispute before the lower Court is based on production of title documents Exhibits A and B respectively, the Appellant’s case is based on sale of the disputed land to him by one Alhaji Babale Saidu based on an alleged revocation of the Respondent’s Certificate of Occupancy (Exhibit B) by Adamawa State Government. Exhibit G is the alleged revocation letter. As rightly stated by the lower Court in its judgment at Page 160 of the printed record, the Appellant who alleges such revocation of Exhibit G must prove same.” “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). In the case of Kandix HD v. Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice C.R.S. (Supra) 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.””
“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.””
II. Whether the trial Court judge had powers to make consequential orders while delivering judgment demarcating the land?
RULING: IN RESPONDENT’S FAVOUR.
A. THERE ARE BEACONS NUMBER ON THE C OF O
“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.”
“Having resolved the issues against the Appellant and in favour of the Respondent, this Appeal is unmeritorious and is accordingly dismissed. The judgment of the lower Court delivered on 16th October, 2016 is hereby affirmed. Parties to bear their respective costs.”
➥ MISCELLANEOUS POINTS
➥ REFERENCED (LEGISLATION)
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.”
➥ REFERENCED (CASE)
➥ REFERENCED (OTHERS)