3PLR – JARINATU JINADU AND 3 ORS. V. ADEKUNLE COKER

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JARINATU JINADU AND 3 ORS.

V.

ADEKUNLE COKER

FEDERAL SUPREME COURT OF NIGERIA

29TH JULY, 1960,

F.S.C.5/1960

3PLR/1960/53 (SC)

OTHER CITATIONS

 

 

 

BEFORE THEIR LORDSHIPS

SIR ADETOKUNBO ADEMOLA, C.S.F. (Presided)

MYLES JOHN ABBOTT, F.J.

JOHN IDOWU CONRAD TAYLOR, AG. F.J. (Read the Judgment of the Court)

REPRESENTATION

Mr. A. A. Ogunsanya -for the Appellants.

Mr. C. Kunle Oyero -for the Respondent.

MAIN ISSUES

CUSTOMARY LAW: Grant of law – What amounts to forfeiture of land granted under customary law 

LAND LAW – Grant of land – Long possession thereof – How laches and acquiescence arises – effect thereof – Admission of title and its effect on the onus of proof against a grantee to show interest in the land

LAND LAW – Registration of title – Objection to registration – Order to regis­ter – When made

MAIN JUDGMENT

TAYLOR, AG. F.J. (Delivering the Judgment of the Court):

 

This matter originated in the Lagos Lands Registry where as a result of an application made by Adekunle Coker to have the property in dispute registered in his name as the owner of the freehold, an objection was lodged by the present appellants Jarinatu Jinadu and three others, who claimed to be the owners of the property. The Assistant Registrar of Titles dismissed the application for registration with costs to the objectors. On appeal to the High Court, the learned Chief Justice of the High Court of Lagos held as follows:­

 

“I therefore allow this appeal, set aside the decision of the Assis­tant Registrar and direct that the Assistant Registrar do register the applicant as the owner of the land and do register a notice to the effect that the appellant’s title is subject to any title posses­sory or otherwise which the respondents who are in occupation of the land may have acquired therein, and is further subject to such occupation.”

 

From this judgment Jarinatu Jinadu and the other objectors, who were respondents in the High Court, have appealed to this Court and I shall from now on refer to them as the appellants and to Adekunle Coker as the respon­dent. After hearing learned Counsel for the appellants on the 21st July, 1960, we did not call upon learned Counsel for the respondent to reply and reserved our judgment.

 

The submission of learned Counsel for the appellants under grounds 1 and 2 (3 being abandoned), can be shortly put as follows:

 

“That in view of the evidence of long possession adduced by the present appellants the learned Chief Justice erred in not drawing an inference of ownership in their favour.”

 

It is common ground that the property in dispute was originally owned by the Aromire Chieftaincy Family and further that one Samuel the pre­decessor-in-title and vendor of Jinadu Oni Ayegbusi Bale, father of the ap­pellants, acquired his title from the Aromire Family. It is the nature of the title acquired by him that is in dispute, for whereas the appellants say that Samuel purchased the property from the Aromire Family the respondent says that Samuel received a mere grant in accordance with Native Law and Custom and that by the purported sale to Jinadu he, Samuel, had forfeited his holding. The respondent further contends that this forfeiture having taken place, the Aromire Family were perfectly justified in selling the prop­erty to him without first seeking a declaration of forfeiture in the Courts.

 

There is no need for me to deal with any of the side issues arising in this appeal for I propose to confine myself to the sole matter in issue as stated above. I am of the opinion that with the admission of the original title of the Aromire Chieftaincy Family and the respondent having purchased from such family, the onus lay on the appellants to establish the interest of Samuel in the property. Mr. Ogunsanya quite frankly admits that he has been unable to do this and based his case on appeal wholly on long possession. Learned Counsel referred us to the case of Suleman and another v. Johnson 13 W.A.C.A. 213. I quote from page 215 a passage which I think is relevant to this submission of learned Counsel. Sir John Verity, Acting President of the Court, is quoted as saying that:­

 

“It is clear that when the original owners have granted rights of occupation to another, the possession of the other is not adverse possession and the owner’s acquiescence therein is part and par­cel of the grant and cannot affect the owner’s reversionary rights. It is only therefore, when it comes to the owner’s knowledge that the tenant has alienated or is attempting to alienate the land that the question of acquiescence can arise.”

 

In the appeal before us there was no evidence to support any acquiescence by the Aromire Family in the purported sale by Samuel to the appellants’ father. This appeal must therefore fail and it is dismissed with costs assessed at 18 guineas in favour of the respondent.

 

ADEMOLA, C.J.F.:

I concur.

 

ABBOTT, F.J.:

I concur.

 

Appeal Dismissed.

 

 

 

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