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OYEKUNLE MORONFOYE & ANOR v. ALFA ABDULATEEF & ORS

(2018) LPELR-44237(CA)

In The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

On Monday, the 23rd day of April, 2018

CA/IL/21/2017


Before Their Lordships

CHIDI NWAOMA UWA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

HAMMA AKAWU BARKA Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria

BOLOUKUROMO MOSES UGO Justice of The Court of Appeal of Nigeria


Between

1. OYEKUNLE MORONFOYE
2. OLATUNJI MORONFOYE
(Being heirs and Administrators of the Estate of Late Prince Israel Moronfoye) - Appellant(s)

AND

1. ALFA ABDULATEEF
2. GARUBA ADIO
3. THE REGISTERED TRUSTEES OF THE NIGERIA BAPTIST CONVENTION - Respondent(s)


Other Citations

; ;


Summary

INTRODUCTION:
This appeal borders on Land Law.

FACTS:
This is an appeal against the decision of the Kwara State High Court, Ilorin.

Sometime in 2004, the father of the appellants, Prince Israel Moronfoye, died. Four years later in 2008, the appellants who had been appointed administrators of their said father's intestate estate and had been functioning in that capacity stumbled on a Certificate of Occupancy No KW 4205 (Exhibit 1) dated 4th June 1982, issued to him by the Government of Kwara State in respect of a piece of land measuring 5511.09 square metres situate somewhere in Ilorin metropolis. Apparently believing that the land covered by the said Certificate of Occupancy is located at Abiola Badmus/Ajala Street, Off Olorunshogo Adewole Road, Ilorin where the respondents and one Mrs. Fidelia Ike already had their buildings, appellants through their solicitors, by letters, notified respondents and Mrs. Ike that they were trespassers on the said land. Receiving no response to their letters, appellants on 30/05/2012 took out the summons against Mrs. Ike and the respondents, claiming against them jointly and severally, ownership of the said land, damages for trespass and perpetual injunction.

All four defendants responded to the claim with statements of defence denying trespass and rather claimed ownership of the portions of land occupied by them. Each of them claimed to have purchased their parcels of land from named persons who they claimed bought from the original customary owners. They claimed to have assumed possession of their portions of land as far back as the 1970s and 1980s. Mrs. Ike on her own part even counterclaimed against appellants for declaration of ownership of the same land, damages for trespass and perpetual injunction. With the witness statements on oath of parties conflicting on whether the Certificate of Occupancy (Exhibit 1) issued to appellants' father had been revoked by Kwara State Government, parties saw it necessary to subpoena the Chief Lands Officer of the Kwara State Lands Bureau, one Mr. Olatayo Adeleke, to clear the air even before appellants opened their case. With evidence emerging from the said Chief Lands Officer to the effect that Kwara State Government in 1984 excised part of the land covered by appellants' Certificate of Occupancy (Exhibit 1) for Mrs. Ike's Late husband, appellant's on 13/11/2013 discontinued their action against Mrs. Ike.

Trial commenced and the Chief Lands Officer, Olatayo Adeleke testified a second time on subpoena. In his evidence, the Kwara State Ministry of Lands, he said, had cause to allocate even a bigger portion of land elsewhere to appellants' father to compensate him. The same witness also testified that a letter dated 21/05/2013 was addressed to appellant's late father by Government to return his Certificate of Occupancy for cancellation and revocation, Government's having taken a decision to revoke it.
???
At the conclusion of the trial, the trial Court dismissed the appellants' claims. Dissatisfied, appellants appealed to the Court of Appeal.

ISSUES:
The following issues for determination were resolved in the appeal:
1. Whether the lower Court was right in holding that the description of the land was not properly made by the appellants despite the evidence before the Court particularly Exhibit 1 and the uncontradicted evidence of the land officer and PW1 respectively.
2. Whether the High Court was right by holding that the action of the appellants was statute barred.
3. Whether the lower Court was right in holding that the appellant's Certificate of Occupancy has been legally revoked.
DECISION/HELD:
In the final analysis, the appeal was dismissed.


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