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3PLR/1999/8  (SC)



6 NWLR PART 608 PG.544











EVIDENCE – Proof – Due execution of land instruments – When unnecessary – Sections 18 and 31 of the Land Instruments Registration Law of Oyo State considered.

LAND LAW – Proof – Due execution of land instruments – When unnecessary – Section 18AND 31 of the Land instruments Registration Law of Oyo State considered.

REGISTRABLE INSTRUMENTS – Land instruments registered under Land Instruments Registration Law of Oyo State – Whether necessary to prove due execution of- Sections 18 and 31 of the Land Instruments Registration Law of of Oyo State, 1978 considered.




  1. Whether Exhibits D, E and F, the deeds of conveyance made in favour of the appellants passed title in the land in dispute to the appellants.


  1. Whether the appellants by preponderance of evidence established their claims for title, injunction and damages for trespass in respect of the disputed land as reflected in plan No. FA/M/32A dated 16/11/79.




The case of the plaintiffs who are appellants herein as portrayed in their amended statement of claim was that sometime in 1957 the Alade family established a layout of plots for sale of their family land at Tabontabon village, near Ring Road Ibadan.


The family head and representatives were Adebayo Alade, Adetohun Alade (deceased) and Yesufu Alade the first defendant (now 1st respondent). The 1st appellant bought six plots in the layout, that is, plot Nos. 20, 21, 24, 25, 32 and 37 and same was evidenced by sale agreement dated 23/3/58 and a conveyance registered as 53/53/259 of 16/16/59. The 2nd appellant bought plot No.33 conveyed by deed of conveyance registered as 48/48/353 and dated 4/12/59 while the 3rd appellant bought four plots, that is plot Nos. 16,17,28 and 29 by virtue of deed of conveyance registered as 16/16/245 of 16/5/58. The eleven plots bought by the appellants were shown in survey plan FA/M/32A of 21/1/78. The appellants claimed that they were in possession of these plots of land until 30/5/77 when they saw the 2nd respondent and two workmen constructing a building foundation on the land.


The said building construction not only obstructed the proposed road within the Alade layout but protruded at various places into plot Nos. 28, 29,32 and 33 which are respective properties of the appellants. In consequence of this, they filed this action against the respondents claiming as follows:


  1. Declaration of title to a statutory right of occupancy under the provision of Decree No. 6 of 1978 in respect of all that piece or parcel of land lying being and situate at Tabontabon village, off Ring-Road, Ibadan, as per the plan No. FA/M/32A drawn by licensed surveyor A.0. Adebogun dated 16/11/79.


  1. N200. 00 general damages for a continuing trespass commenced since month of June, 1977 by the defendants, their agents and/or servants on the said landed property in Ibadan.


  1. Injunction restraining the defendants, their agents, servants, privies and all those claiming through the defendants from committing further acts of trespass on or in any other way interfering with plaintiffs’ ownership and/or possession of the said landed property.”


In their defence, the 1st respondent denied being a party to the execution of the documents of title of the appellant. The 2nd respondent claimed he was not liable being merely a workman of the 1st respondent. At the end of trial, the High Court entered judgment in favour of the 1st and 2nd appellants in respect of the declaration sought by them but their claim for trespass and injunction was dismissed. The 3rd appellant’s case was dismissed entirely. Both sides appealed to the Court of Appeal which held that the 1st and 2nd appellants did not prove their title to the land in dispute. The court further held that the appellants did, not prove that the land in dispute was within Alade family layout plan which they pleaded and in the result an order of non-suit was entered against the three appellants. The cross-appeal of the respondents thus succeeded. The appellant being dissatisfied appealed further to the Supreme Court.


The central issues for resolution in the appeal were whether the appellants established their title to the land in dispute, whether they proved due execution of their documents of title by the 1st respondent and the other parties mentioned therein as having executed same and whether they established that plots of land they claimed are within the Alade family layout.


In the determination of the appeal, Supreme Court considered the provisions of section 18(1)- (5) and section 31 of the Land Instruments Registration Law of Oyo State which provide:


A18(1)        Any person desiring that any instrument shall be registered shall deliver the same together with a true copy thereof and the prescribed fee to the registrar at the office.


(2)     The registrar shall, immediately after such delivery, place upon the instrument and upon the copy thereof a certificate, as in Form B in the First Schedule.


(3)     Unless the instrument is one which is declared by this Law to be void or the registration of which is prohibited by this Law, the registrar shall compare the copy of the instrument with the original and if he shall find such copy to be a true copy and to comply with any regulations made under this Law and for the time being in force he shall certify the same by writing there on the words’ certified true copy’ and appending his signature thereto.


(4)     The registrar shall thereupon register the instrument by causing the copy so certified to be pasted or bound in one of the register books and by endorsing upon the original instrument a certificate as in Form C in the First Schedule; and upon such registration the year, month, day and hour specified in the certificate indorsed on the instrument in pursuance of subsection (2) shall be taken to be the year, month day and hour at which the instrument was registered.


(5)     The original instrument shall thereafter, upon application, be returned to the person who shall have delivered it for registration: Provided that if application for the return of the instrument is not made within twelve months after the date of registration the registrar may destroy the instrument. ‘

“31(1) The registrar shall upon request give a certified copy of any entry in any such register book or register, or of any filed document.


(2)     Every such certified copy shall be received in evidence, without any further or other proof in all civil cases.”




By virtue of sections 18(1)-(5) and 31(2) of the Land Instruments Registration Law, once an instrument has been registered in accordance with the provisions of section 18(l) – (4), a certified copy of a conveyance so registered shall be received in evidence without any further or other proof in all civil cases. Thus a registered conveyance under the Land Instruments Registration Law is sufficient evidence of its due execution. [Jules v Ajayi (1980) 5-7 SC 96; Adelaja v. Fanoiki (1990) 2 (Pt. 131) 137 referred to].


  1. When a conveyance has been duly executed under section 18(l)- (4) of the Land Instruments Registration Law, the mere denial by one of the executants of being a party to the execution cannot avail or him effect the validity of the registered conveyance because section 31(2) of the Law enjoins that even a certified copy of the conveyance registered in accordance with section 18(3) and (4) will be admitted in evidence without any further or other proof in all civil cases.


  1. Where a party denies making a document which he is alleged to have executed or signed (in this case thumb-printed before a Magistrate after its content had been explained to him) such denial is tantamount to saying that the document is a forgery or a fake. In such a situation the burden of proof of the forgery rests on the party who alleges. Since forgery is a crime, the onus of proof on him who alleges is proof beyond reasonable doubt. In the instant case, the 1st respondent did not lead any evidence to establish that he did not thumb-print Exhibits D,E,F,H and R save his mere denial. Accordingly, he failed to prove that Exhibits D,E,F,H and R are a forgery. [Ikoku v. Oli (1962) 1 SCNLR 307 referred to.]


  1. An instrument is said to be duly executed when all acts necessary to render it compete and give it validity have been performed.


  1. Ownership of land may be proved by production of documents of title which must be authenticated in the sense that their execution must be proved. In the instant case, the appellants have produced documents of title Exhibits D, E and F which were duly authenticated and registered and virtue of section 31(2) of the Land Instruments Registration Law of Oyo State, they require no further proof of execution. Thus the lower courts were manifestly in error in holding that Exhibits D, E and F which are registered deeds of conveyance were not prima facie evidence of title to land.


  1. Where there is no dispute as to the identity or particular location of the parcel of land in dispute, failure to file a plan location of the would not necessarily be detrimental to a claim for title, damages for trespass or injunction far as from the description of the land in controversy it is apt for a court to determine, with certainty, the particular area where an order will be made. In the instant case, Exhibit K was filed with amended statement claim and was never challenged by the respondents either in their pleading or evidence and is therefore deemed admitted by the respondents.


  1. Where a Plaintiff pleaded and served the defendant survey plan which subsequently was admitted in evidence as exhibit and which shows the boundaries and the features on the land in disputes, these will constitute sufficient proof of the boundaries and features set out in the land in dispute. Therefore, where a defendant intends to challenge or dispute such boundaries or features as shown in survey plan, he must do so by specifically traversing the plaintiff’s pleading in that regard because a mere general traverse will be insufficient. In the instant case, since there was no general specific traverse or challenge of the boundaries of the land in dispute as set out in Exhibit K, the plaintiff’s survey plan, the admission of Exhibit K in evidence tantamounts to sufficient proof of the boundaries and features on the land. [Elias v. Omo-Bare (1982) 5 SC 25; Omoregie v. Idugiemwanye (1985)2 NWLR (Pt.5) 41; Adimora v. Ajufo (1988)3 NWLR (pt.80) 1 referred to.]


  1. It is not open to court to introduce new issues which do not arise from the parties’ pleadings. Any decision based on issues not raised by parties will not allowed to stand. [Yakassai v. Incar Motors Ltd (1975)5 S.C.107; Idika v. Erisi (1988) 2 NWLR (Pt.78) 563; Adeniji v. Adeniji (1972) 4 SC 10 referred to.]


  1. Although the Supreme Court is a court of last resort, it cannot suo motu venture to remedy a party’s case by tinkering with, or amending the party’s claim without eyebrows being raised in legal circles even though the mistake is manifest. In the instant case, the blunder of the appellants’ counsel is of unpardonable magnitude and it is clearly too late in the day to accommodate further amendment which could reflect the true state of affairs in this appeal.


  1. Parties as well as the court are bound by the pleadings and issues joined which are to be adjudicated, by the court. A necessary corollary of this is that the court not being a charitable institution cannot award to a person either what he has not claimed or more than what he has claimed [Ekpeyong v. Nyong (1975) 2 SC 71; Ademola v. Sodipo (1992) 7 NWLR (Pt.253) 251 referred to.]




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