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HEZEKIAH OLAIWOLA KOLEOSO v. OMOWOOD INDUSTRIES LTD & ANOR

(2017) LPELR-42425(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Monday, the 15th day of May, 2017

CA/IB/126/2013


Before Their Lordships

MODUPE FASANMI Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

HARUNA SIMON TSAMMANI Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

NONYEREM OKORONKWO Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

HEZEKIAH OLAIWOLA KOLEOSO
(for himself and the entire members of Koleoso
family of Abule Oko) - Appellant(s)

AND

1. OMOWOOD INDUSTRIES LTD.
2. OGUN STATE PROPERTY & INV. CORP - Respondent(s)


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on civil procedure.

FACTS:
This is an appeal against the judgment of the High Court of Ogun State wherein the Court heard and dismissed the claim of the appellant/claimant who had sued for Statutory Right of Occupancy in respect of the parcel of land in survey plan.

The facts of the case as can be gleaned from the pleadings and the judgment were that the Land in dispute comprises 41.615 hectares as shown on Exhibit %u2018A%u2019. It belonged originally to the appellant%u2019s family having been founded by their forebear Koleoso. It devolved on the successors of Koleoso including the appellant. The appellant%u2019s case was that the appellant Koleoso family has always been in exclusive possession of the vast portion of land exercising all forms of acts of ownership or possession thereon either directly or through tenants on the land. Appellant through the family enjoyed quite possession until sometime in December 2005 when the 1st respondent along with Law enforcement agents came to forcefully eject appellant%u2019s family from the land destroying portion thereof with crops thereon and thereby claiming that the land had been acquired for the 2nd respondent who had granted sub-lease to the 1st respondent. Exhibit %u2018A%u2019 showing the extent of the land was tendered out of which the sub-lease was created Exhibit %u2018B%u2019. Exhibit %u2018C%u2019, %u2018D%u2019 and %u2018E%u2019 were procured for the appellant and tendered at the trial. It was the case of the appellant see (CW2) that the land the subject matter of this suit was never acquired by Government, that there was no Notice of Provocation of the appellant%u2019s family%u2019s right of occupancy and that no compensation was ever paid or received by the family in respect of the land. It was further contended for the appellant%u2019s family that no member of the family ever had any negotiation for the purpose of transferring or for the acquisition of the land in dispute.

For the respondents their case rested upon an acquisition of a vast parcel of land about 1986 by the Ogun State Government for purpose and developmental control and was vested by legal instrument on the Ogun State Property Investment Corporation who obtained a Statutory Certificate of Occupancy for the Land area. The Ogun State Property Investment Corporation gave a sub-lease to the 1st respondent in furtherance of its developmental purpose. It was contended for the respondent that the appellant were well aware of the steps leading to the Land acquisition and that the older brother of the appellant on record Olusesan Koleoso and the appellant himself attended different meetings called with respect to the acquisition and compensation issue. It was also shown that the Koleoso's attended the meeting on 17/08/04 for purposes of enumeration wherein Exhibit %u2018O%u2019 the minutes of the meeting were made. It was also shown that Mr. Olusola Koleoso a member of the appellant%u2019s family was paid compensation within the Aale family while Chief Sesan koleoso was enumerated. It was also shown vide Exhibit %u2018M%u2019 series, a bundle of receipt showing compensation paid to some persons that purchased land from the appellant%u2019s family and who with their receipts from the appellant%u2019s family made claims for compensation and were duly paid.

In the trial, the trial judge did not consider the issue of identity of the land in dispute as arising from the pleadings and evidence and held that as pleaded by the appellant, the extent and dimensions of the land was as pleaded in the claim and shown in Exhibit %u2018A%u2019. The same land is the subject of the sub-lease of the 1st respondent who got title via the acquisition by the Ogun State Government. While the appellant%u2019s case was that they own the land, the respondents do not deny that the appellant originally owned the land but claimed that the appellant%u2019s family have been divested of all interest in the land by virtue of the acquisition by the Ogun State Government and the payment of compensation therefor by the Ogun State Government who later granted a Certificate of Occupancy to the 2nd respondent who made a sub-lease to the 1st respondent.

The appellant being dissatisfied with the judgment of the High Court appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:
The appellant formulated the following four (4) issues for determination viz:
1. Whether, the land in dispute is covered by Exhibit %u2018C%u2019 rather than Exhibit %u2018D%u2019.
2. Whether there was any valid acquisition of the land in dispute capable of extinguishing the claimant%u2019s title over same to predicate its allocation to the Defendants.
3. Whether from the oral and documentary evidence before the Court, the claimant had been paid compensation in respect of the land in dispute or any part thereof.
4. Whether there was any sale of the land in dispute or any part thereof by the claimant upon which the defendants can rely to defeat the claimant/appellant%u2019s title.

For the respondents, the issues formulated are as follows:
1. Whether the findings of the learned trial judge after careful evaluation of the evidence before the Court on the position and coverage of the land in dispute is proper and valid in the circumstances of this case.
2. Whether the learned trial judge was right in his findings and judgment when he held that there was proof of compliance with Section 44 of the Land Use Act on acquisition and that compensation was paid to the claimant/appellant.
3. Whether the findings of the learned trial judge on the evidence of sale of land in dispute by the claimant/appellant is perverse to warrant setting aside the judgment of the trial Court.

DECISION/HELD:
On the whole, the Court held that the appeal lacks merit and it was accordingly dismissed.


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