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SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA
FRIDAY, 30TH APRIL, 1999.
6 NWLR PART 608 PG.544
BEFORE THEIR LORDSHIPS:
SALIHU MODIBBO ALFA BELGORE; MICHAEL EKUNDAYO OGUNDARE; SYLVESTER UMARU ONU; OKAY ACHIKE; UMARU ATU KALGO.
ABIODUN ADELAJA; ABIODUN OYETUBO; CHIEF A.T. OLUKOYA (Attorney for Kola Ayodele)
YESUFU ALADE; RAUFU GBADEGADE.
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.
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:
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].