A Critique of Lagos State Lands Registration Law -Solomon Adeseun Esq.

Has leases been abolished in Lagos State?

When does a Power of Attorney require registration?

When is a Judgment required to be registered?

 

The Lagos State Lands Registration Law[1] is a legislation which makes provisions for registration of instruments and title to land in Lagos State. This Law repeals and replaces Land Instruments Registration Law,[2] Registration of Titles Law[3] and two other Laws formerly dealing with registration of instruments and of titles.[4] The consolidation in this new legislation, of the provisions dealing with registration of instruments and registration of titles is a welcome development. This consolidation does away with the confusing and overlapping provisions contained in the former Statutes which separately dealt with registration of instruments and registration of titles.

 

The Lagos State Lands Registration Law provides for the compulsory registration of all instruments affecting land. Under the provisions of this Law which now adopts the term “document” instead of “instrument”, document “includes any deed, judgment, decree, order or other document in writing requiring or capable of registration under this Law and includes Certificate of Occupancy.”[5] Every “document of interest or title to land in Lagos State” is required to be registered.[6]

 

Document versus Instrument

Similar Laws in the other States apart from Lagos State have retained the title “Land Instruments Registration Law.” Under those laws, documents affecting land are called “instruments” and an “instrument” is a document affecting land whereby one party, that is the grantor, confers, transfers, limits, charges or extinguishes in favour of another party, that is, the grantee, any right or title to, or interest in land, and includes a certificate of purchase and a Power of Attorney under which any instrument may be executed, but does not include a Will.[7]  You are thus invited to notice that as far as the definition of “document” in Section 1 of the Lagos State Lands Registration Law is concerned, any other writing which does not require or qualify for registration under the Law cannot be called a document! This absurdity calls to question the wisdom of dropping the term “instrument“ which ordinarily means a document that grants some right and was used to distinguish a document creating an interest in land from other documents which do not.

 

When does a document qualify for registration and when does it not? In Ogbimi V. Niger Construction Ltd,[8] a letter written by a community granting land was held to be an instrument, the Supreme Court reasoning that it was the substance of the document that was material and not the form in which the document was written.[9] However, in Ajao V. Adigun[10] the parties made a document in which they stated the boundaries of their respective lands, in order to avoid future disputes. The Supreme Court held that since the document did not pretend to confer or transfer or limit any right or extinguish any right in favour of anyone, the document was not an instrument under the Land Instruments Registration Law of Oyo State.

 

The case about Power of Attorney

In Etajata V. Ologbo,[11] the Supreme Court listed “a Power of Attorney under which any instrument may be executed” as an instrument. It requires registration. This follows the definition of “instrument” as contained in the Land Instruments Registration Law of the former Bendel State.[12] Surprisingly, in the earlier case of Ude V. Nwara[13]the Supreme Court, followed by the Court of Appeal in the equally earlier case of Olorunfemi V. NEB Ltd[14] held that a Power of Attorney is not a land instrument. This stance implies that Powers of Attorney would not require registration under the provisions of the Land Instruments Registration Laws. It appears these earlier decisions did not advert to the definition of “instrument” as contained in S. 2 of the Land Instruments Registration Law. While the legislation did not seek to include all Powers of Attorney, the definition does include a Power of Attorney under which any instrument may be executed. Following this provision therefore, whether a Power of Attorney is an instrument or not would depend on the content of the document, that is whether it is one under which an instrument may be executed.

 

The Lagos State Lands Registration Law introduces a distinction between a Power of Attorney which only contains authority to deal with an interest in land and one which the Law appears to treat as having transferred land. Section 56 (2) provides that “Where a Power of Attorney contains authority to deal with any land, sub-lease or mortgage, the Donor or the Donee shall file the Power of Attorney in the Lands Registry.”[15] In contrast to this which merely requires filing and not registration and does not require Governor’s consent; there are other provisions in the Law which authorise registration of a Power of Attorney “relating to transfer of land” if the Governor’s consent had been obtained.[16] It is submitted that by these provisions, the Lagos State Lands Registration Law has taken a definite position with respect to the argument on whether or not a Power of Attorney could be regarded as a transfer of land, which would require the Governor’s consent.[17]

 

Registrable Interests under the Lagos State Lands Registration Law

We have referred to the provision dealing with registration of “documents” earlier.[18] As regards registration of titles, the Law says “Any person who has power to assign or is entitled in Law or Equity to any land may apply to be registered as the land holder[19] and that transfer of land “shall be completed by registration of the transferee as holder of the land, sub-lease or mortgage.”[20] Under the Law, registrable titles and interests include succession to land under a Will or on intestacy;[21]sub-leases for a term of five years or more;[22]Mortgages and Charges;[23]Irrevocable Power of Attorney containing authority to deal with land, sub-lease or mortgage;[24] Court Judgments affecting land, sub-lease or mortgage;[25] Certificates of Sale under the Sheriffs and Civil Process Law;[26]restrictive covenants.[27]

 

Has the Law abolished Leases?

The Lagos Lands Registration Law does not define lease. But it contains some interesting definitions of “Lessee” and “Lessor.” Section 1 of the Law says “lessee means the holder of a sublease or a lease;” while “lessor means the holder of a sub-leased land.” Even if the meaning assigned to the term “lessee” is pardonable, the meaning assigned to “lessor” is totally unpardonable or is this supposed to be a revolution in the definition of the terms? The conventional meaning of Lessor is he who grants a lease. One who rents property to another or simply, the Landlord.[28]

 

There is no mention of Lease as a type of interest in land throughout the provisions of the Law. But consider the language of Section 41 (1) of the Law which provides that “the holder of land may sublet it upon such conditions as he thinks fit….” There is no equivalent provision for the creation of leases.

It is true that the holder of land may sublet it if the holder himself is a lessee. But if the holder of the land is not a lessee but the title holder, then, if he desires to create a term of years in favour of another, that cannot be a sub-lease but simply a lease.

 

It is not known whether the omission of leases is deliberate or accidental. If the omission is accidental, it is a serious omission. This is because leases are important as a type of interest in land. The importance of it is that whenever land or property is required and the person requiring land either does not have the financial wherewithal for an outright purchase or an outright purchase is not considered expedient in the circumstances, a lease is a convenient device to meet such non-permanent economic need. Again, the owner of the land found suitable for the particular purpose might not even be disposed to selling or out- rightly disposing of the land; a lease is the answer in such a case, since the owner can hope for it reverting to him after the agreed number of years.

 

On the other hand, if the omission of leases is deliberate, it is submitted that the omission is not only absurd but illogical. Since the law has several provisions relating to sub-leases, the question is how can we have sub-leases when there are no leases? By definition, a sub-lease is a transaction whereby a tenant grants interests in leased premises or land less than his own.[29] So, how will the sub-leases mentioned in the Law be created when there are no leases? Given the convenience in the use of land which leases afford, it is a great wonder that this important device is not catered for in the Lagos State Lands Registration Law.

 

This omission is even more poignant in a place like Lagos State where there is serious pressure on the limited available land for the needs of the disproportionate population, which means that land for sale may not always be available or affordable but leases can be resorted to instead. Alas, the Law has nothing to say for leases! The only saving grace on this question in this Law is the general provision in Section 32 which says that, “a registered holder of land may dispose of or deal with the land and create any interest or right over it” subject only to the Governor’s consent. It is submitted therefore that the Law has not abolished leases because that cannot be done by implication. Indeed, it is submitted furthermore that the recognition of sub-leases necessarily implies the recognition of leases since it cannot be imagined how sub-leases may exist without leases.

 

Judgments as Registrable Interests

With particular reference to registration of Judgments affecting land, Section 58 provides that “…a Judgment or Writ of execution shall not bind or affect any land, sub-lease or mortgage, except it is registered” while Section 59 (2) says that “failure to register any Judgment shall not affect the validity or effect of the Judgment.” In view of these seemingly contradictory provisions, it is doubtful whether it could be said that the Legislature has decreed compulsory registration for this class of Judgments.

 

Effect of Registration of Instruments and Interests in Land

The effect of registration under this Law is not to cure any defect in any document (instrument) or to confer upon such document any effect or validity which it would not otherwise have had. This is because any advantage conferred on the registered holder under the Law is only with reference to a person who “has been validly registered.”[30] The Law also acknowledges the possibility of overriding interest for the sake of which the register could be rectified. Examples are where rectification is sought on the grounds of fraud, mistake, some other omission or that the disposition to the registered holder is otherwise void.[31] Moreover, giving false information in any document submitted for registration under the Law is a criminal offence.[32]

 

Another objective of the legislation as well as Land Instruments Registration Laws applicable in other States in Nigeria, is also to keep an intending Purchaser informed of transactions affecting the land which such Purchaser intends to buy. Thus, the Lands Registration Law in Lagos State makes provisions for maintenance, in electronic and paper form, of register of all transactions relating to transfer of interest in land and conduct of searches from these registers.[33]

 

Registration and Legal Proceedings

Surprisingly, Section 30 of the Law adopts the use of the term “instrument” even though that term has been dropped from the Law and “instrument” was not defined in the Law. The Section says instruments which are registrable under the Law, if not registered will not be admissible in evidence in any Court. This position is the same in other States in Nigeria.[34] However, inadmissibility of such unregistered instruments is limited to cases in which the instrument is tendered as document affecting land.[35] It will be admissible if pleaded and offered in evidence as purchase receipt or as evidence of payment for the land transaction.[36]

 

It is noteworthy that this trend is strange whereby unregistered instruments are upheld or struck down depending on whether or not the document was pleaded as and/or offered in evidence as purchase receipt. In Akinduro V. Alaya[37]the Appellant bought a parcel of land. The Respondent who was the Vendor signed an agreement for him and put him in possession. Later as the Appellant was developing the land, the same Vendor disturbed his workmen and caused his supervisor to be arrested. At trial, the Vendor even acknowledged the agreement but it was argued on his behalf that the agreement was not admissible because it was an unregistered land instrument. The trial Court admitted the document as a purchase receipt and gave judgment for the Appellant. Both the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court reversed the trial Court, holding that the document was not pleaded as a purchase receipt. A similar decision was reached by the Court of Appeal in Commissioner for Lands & Housing, Kwara State V. Atanda.[38]

 

This unnecessary technical stance has done nothing to advance the cause of Equity. Earlier, in the case of Obijuru V. Ozims[39]a differently constituted Supreme Court rejected this technical approach. In that case, the agreement which the Appellant relied on was for a lease of 99 years. No doubt, it qualified as a land instrument but it was not registered. The Appellant merely pleaded the transaction as an agreement by virtue of which the Appellant’s father was let into possession for 99 years. The agreement was never pleaded as “purchase receipt.” The trial Court treated the document as purchase receipt and gave judgment for the Appellant. The Court of Appeal reversed that decision, saying that on point of Pleading, the document should not have been so treated. The Supreme Court, in reversing the Court of Appeal said as follows: “It is clear from the foregoing that the Appellant pleaded that his father had entered into an agreement with the owner of the land in dispute for a 99 year lease; that the father had paid 10 years’ rent and entered into possession. . . It appears the Court of Appeal misconceived the effect of the Appellant’s pleading which averred sufficient facts constituting a plea of equitable interest by operation of law.”[40]The Court said further: “where a Purchaser of land or a Lessee is in possession of the land and has paid the purchase money to the Vendor or has paid the rent to the Lessor as the case may be, then and in either case, the Purchaser or the Lessee has acquired an equitable interest in the land which is as good as a legal estate and this equitable interest can only be defeated by a Purchaser of the land for value without notice of the prior equity.”[41] Similarly, in Okoye V. Dumez Nig. Ltd.,[42]the Respondent was in possession by virtue of Lease agreements which were found to be registrable instruments but which were not registered. Its interest was upheld by the Supreme Court.[43]

 

Furthermore and more importantly is the provision dealing with loss of priority for non- registration of registrable instruments. The substance of the provision is that every instrument registered under the Law takes effect, in so far as if affects the land, against other instrument affecting the same land from the date of its presentation for registration.[44] Thus, priority as regards registrable instruments under the Law is to be determined not by the date the instruments were made but by the date they were presented for registration.[45]

The change in the Law from the former position where priority was with reference to the date of registration should be noted. The change is salutary. This position recognises that the Purchaser has done all that is required of him if the document was properly presented for registration so that his interest is given protection from that point.

The operation of the provision on priority on registration is illustrated by the decision of the Supreme Court in Amankra V. Zankley.[46] The Plaintiff bought the land in August, 1957 and registered the same in September, 1957. The same Vendor had earlier conveyed the land to the Defendant in May, 1957 but it was registered in 1960. The Court held that the Defendant had lost priority by virtue of section 16 of the Land Registration Act.[47] The Court held that “when two persons claim the transfer of a legal estate, he who did not register his Conveyance cannot plead it or give it in evidence; if they both registered their Deeds; each takes effect as against the other from the date of registration; which means that the one executed earlier loses its priority if it was registered later. What counts is the date and hour of registration.[48]

 

Thus one of the effects of the provision of Section 29 of the Law is to give some protection against fraud and facilitate dealings in land.

 

Lagos State Lands Registration Law and Doctrine of Notice

It is apparent that the aim of the legislation is to confer protection on registered interests.[49] For example, Section 27 provides that “Once a person has been validly registered as the holder of a land parcel, the registration is evidence of holding of that land parcel together with all the rights, privileges and appurtenances, except rights to mineral resources or mineral oils on the land.” It will therefore seem strange if such registration should not be considered as Notice to the whole world of the interest which has been so registered. Indeed, from decided cases, the position is that a Purchaser who neglects to make a thorough search of the Register is fixed with notice of rights contained in registered instruments.[50]

 

Unregistered Interests and Doctrine of Notice

Section 111 of the Lagos State Lands Registration Law provides: “A registered owner of any land or mortgage, being a purchaser for value, is not

affected by an express or implied notice of any unregistered interest affecting the interest of any previous registered holder; or

required to inquire whether the terms of any caution or restriction have been complied with, where they relate to a time prior to his registration as holder of such land or mortgage.”

 

Ordinarily, the import of this provision is that a second or subsequent registered owner being a Purchaser for value is not affected by notice whatsoever of any unregistered interest and that such registered owner takes on the face of the Register but subject to the provisions of the Law.[51] However, in spite of similar provisions of previous legislation,[52] it appears that the Courts are prepared to apply the doctrine of Notice in appropriate cases where the Purchaser could be said to have had notice of an unregistered interest prior to his purchase.

 

In Johnson V. Onisiwo,[53] the West African Court of Appeal observed as follows: “The Court below has found as fact-and we accept the finding that the Appellant at the time of his purchase had notice of the Respondent’s lease which constituted an unregistered equitable estate in the Respondent. It is clear therefore that at the time of his purchase, the Appellant was in equity bound by the lease and the estate he acquired by his purchase was in Equity subject to the lease. That was the position at the time when the Appellant applied to register his title under his Conveyance. The registration of his title without any reference to the Respondent’s unregistered estate made the relative entry in the Registry, to the Appellant’s knowledge, an incorrect statement of the position. We think that it could not have been the intention of the Legislature in section 54 that a person affected by equities flowing from a notice he had received before becoming a purchaser for value could escape from such equities by deliberately registering his title without reference to the unregistered estate and with the obvious intention of defeating the equities operating against him.”[54]

 

The Law in this respect is different in Nigeria from what the position is in England as seen in the case of Lloyds Bank PLC V. Carrick.[55]In this case, Mrs. Carrick who just became a widow sold her matrimonial home, on the advice of her brother-in-law who was a building contractor. She paid the proceeds of the sale to this man to acquire another property belonging to him. The whole transaction was not in writing and her interest was not registered. She took immediate possession and was living in the house with her children. After a few years, Mr. Carrick, the brother-in-law mortgaged the property to the Appellant Bank which registered the mortgage. In accepting the mortgage, the Bank did not make any enquiries of Mrs. Carrick who was in possession. When Mr. Carrick could not discharge the mortgage, the Bank took legal action, seeking judgment for the amount outstanding and possession of the property. The Court of Appeal held that Mrs. Carrick having paid the whole of the purchase price had a valid contract, enforceable against Mr. Carrick, that the law requires that her interest should have been registered but having failed to register her interest, “Parliament has decreed that in those circumstances the contract is void against the bank.” However, that the position would have been different if the title to the property in question were registered title. In that case, the interest of Mrs. Carrick who was in possession and of whom no inquiry had been made would have been an overriding interest, by statutory provision and would have been binding on the Bank.[56]

 

This decision was based on the provision that the transaction is void against a third party if not registered. Based on the bare letters of the applicable legislation in England, it is difficult to fault this judgment. No doubt, the essential characteristics of the law were upheld, namely certainty, uniformity and universality. In this case, it was register your interest, otherwise, it would be voided” and it does not matter that you are a widow and the Purchaser was aware or ought to be aware of your interest. But it is equally difficult to say that the decision in this case was not harsh or that justice had been done. It is precisely to moderate the harshness of the Law that Equity jurisdiction was developed in the first place. It is submitted that the application of the equitable doctrine of Notice would have achieved more justice in the circumstances. The Court of Appeal however, seems to be more in tune with the Harman L.J., school of thought expressed in Campbell Discount Co. Ltd V. Bridge[57] that the system of Equity has become a very precise one and that the creation of new rights and remedies is a matter for the Parliament and not the Judges.[58]

 

There is no such provision decreeing voidness for unregistered interests in the Lagos State Lands Registration Law.[59] Indeed, if the unregistered Purchaser is in possession like Mrs. Carrick was, that interest is an overriding interest under the Law.[60] Moreover, Section 65 (2) of the Law seems to provide an additional support for the view that Notice of prior unregistered interests is binding. The sub-section provides that “any holder who acquires an interest in land, sub-lease or mortgage shall hold the same subject to interests prior to the transfer…” and there is nothing in the provision limiting these prior interests to registered interests only.

 

Under the provisions of the Lagos State Lands Registration Law, a person having an interest in an unregistered land may apply to the Registrar for the registration of a caution.[61] If he succeeds in registering the caution, a document of title will not be registered in respect of the land without his consent or at least, not until Notice prescribed under the Law has been served on him, to give him an opportunity to oppose the proposed registration.[62] But the Registrar may refuse to register a caveat if he is of the opinion that registration of a title document will achieve the same purpose.[63] These provisions modify the position under the former legislation[64] whereby certain rights or claims such as (i) claim that the land is family land under native law and custom (ii) rights or interests, such as those of customary tenants and any other rights or interests arising from a land that is subject to native law and custom[65]were not to be entertained unless the person opposing first registration had put them forward in opposition to an application for first registration.[66]

 

Registration Laws and Customary Land transactions

Sale of land under customary law is complete if a grantee makes payment or otherwise complies with the customary requirements for a grant of land and he is put in possession.[67] And “no such things as written contracts or Conveyances are necessary to effect a valid sale.”[68] But what, if in addition to this process, the parties go ahead to make a document incorporating the sale transaction; will such a document qualify as an instrument, thus requiring registration? There is a division of opinions on this point.

 

In Agwunedu V. Onwumere,[69] Mohammed, JSC said that an agreement evidencing sale of a piece of land which was tendered in Court to establish the fact of sale “is not and can never be an instrument as defined in the Land Instruments Registration Law.” His Lordship said further that the document “shows a simple customary agreement over sale of a piece of land. It does not therefore fall within the definition of an instrument for the purpose of the Land Instruments Registration Law”

 

On the other hand, in Ogbimi V. Niger Construction Ltd.,[70]a Community which held land under Customary Law granted land and put the grantee in possession. Furthermore, they wrote a letter informing the grantee that the Community had granted him the land forever and ever. The Supreme Court held that the letter was an instrument under the Land Instruments Registration Law because it purported to transfer or confer an interest in land, there were grantors and a grantee.[71] While failure to register the document prevented its admissibility in the legal proceedings and the document was in fact expunged; that circumstance did not however, invalidate the customary land transaction itself.[72]

 

It is submitted that the logic of Ogbimi V. Niger Construction Ltd., cannot be faulted. The idea of “a simple customary agreement over sale of a piece of land” as espoused in Agwunedu V. Onwumere[73] seems inconsistent with the agreed position that written agreements and Conveyances are alien to transactions under Customary Law. Thus, the logical approach to take is to regard any such writing as an instrument, if it purports to confer interest in land, but for the sake of Equity, admit them in evidence as Purchase receipts where they record the fact of payment[74] or evidence of the transaction for which it has been put forward, but not as evidence of title.[75]

 

Conclusion

Overall, it seems that the general policy of the Lagos State Lands Registration Law is to encourage registration of instruments and of titles in order to streamline land transactions. The method chosen to achieve this aim is to confer some advantages on registration rather than punish failure to register instruments and interests affecting land. Hence, the legislation refrained from making void, instruments and interests which are not registered. This approach ensures the survival of equitable interests in land.

 

Likewise, the Law does not affect the validity of transactions affecting land made under customary law regime.[76] There is nothing in the Law that purports to do this and further support is found for this view in that the Law has not altogether invalidated unregistered interests and transactions.

[1] Cap. L41, Vol. 6, Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2015.

[2] Cap. L58 Vol. 4 Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003, formerly Land Registration Act, Cap.99 Laws of the Federation.

[3] Cap. R4 Vol. 6 Laws of Lagos State of Nigeria 2003-formerly Registration of Titles Act Cap. 181, 1958, Laws of the Federation, those laws had been omitted earlier from the Laws of the Federation).

[4]Registered Land Law, Cap. R1, Laws of Lagos State 2003 and Electronic Documents Management System Law 2007.

[5] Section 1 is the definition section.

[6] Ibid. Section 2.

[7] Sec. 2 Land Instruments Registration Law, Oyo State. .

[8] [2006] 9 NWLR (Pt. 986) 474SC @492-493.

[9] The more usual documents are agreements for sale or other transfer of land, including Deeds of Assignment and Mortgage.

[10] [1993] 1 NSCC (Vol. 24) 321 @325-326. See also Ibrahim V. Osunde [2003] 2 NWLR (Pt. 804) 241CA.

[11] [2007] 16 NWLR (Pt. 1061) 554SC @585-6H-B. See also Ojonye V. Ibrahim [2002] 1 NWLR (Pt. 747) 166CA @176-177E-B and Alelu V. Eze [2015] 13 NWLR (Pt.1475) 74CA @94-95G-F, where the Court of Appeal treated Powers of Attorney as registrable instruments.

[12] Now Edo and Delta States. The definition is similar to the one quoted earlier.

[13][1993] 2 NWLR (Pt. 278) 638SC @665A.

[14][2003] 5 NWLR (Pt. 812) 1CA @22.

[15] Quaere: Since S. 56 (7) makes it an offence if one fails to comply with the requirements of S. 56, will a Power of Attorney to which the Section applies be void if not filed as required by that Section?

[16] See Sections 7 and 57. An example is an irrevocable Power of Attorney given for valuable consideration.

[17] See Ude V. Nwara, supra.

[18] Section 2.

[19] Section 7.

[20] Section 62(1).

[21]Section 26 (3).

[22] Sections 41 and 42.

[23] Sections 49 and 54.

[24] Sections 56 and 57.

[25] Section 58.

[26] Section 61.

[27] Section 67.

[28] Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition.

[29] See Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition.

[30] Section 27 & 59 (3).

[31] Section 99 (2) and (3).

[32] Section 119 (4).

[33] Sections 3 (4), 10, 22. See generally Sections 17- 23 on Land Information Management System.

[34]See Oredola V. A.G.,  Kwara State [1992] 3 NSCC (Vol. 23) 1, 8; Comm., L & H., Kwara State V. Atanda [2007] 2 NWLR (Pt. 1018) 360CA; Akinduro V. Alaya [2007] 15 NWLR (Pt. 1057) 312SC @330-331H-A; Crushed Rock Ind. Ltd. V. Ububa [2002] 8 NWLR (Pt. 770) 522 but a party who hindered registration would not be allowed to challenge the document for failure to register: Ajibade V. Pedro [1992] 2 NSCC (Vol. 23) 83, 91; Kachala V. Banki [2006] 8 NWLR (Pt.982) 364SC.

[35] See Fakoya V. St. Paul’s Church Shagamu (1966) 1 All N. L. R. 78; B.P (WA) Ltd V. Allen [1962] NSCC (Vol. 2) 409; Djukpan V. Orovuyovbe [1967] NSCC (Vol. 5) 151; Obienu V. Okeke [2006] 16 NWLR (Pt. 1005) 225CA; Akinduro V. Alaya [2007] 15 NWLR (Pt. 1057) 312SC; First Bank PLC V. Okelewu [2013] 13 NWLR (Pt. 1372) 435CA @471B-E; Olanrewaju Comm. Services Ltd. V. Sogaolu [2015] 12 NWLR (Pt.1473) 311CA @331C-H; Alelu V. Eze [2015] 13 NWLR (Pt.1475) 74CA @95-96F-E.

[36] In view of the technical approach to the issue adopted by the Courts sometimes, the person relying on an unregistered instrument would do well to ensure that he presents the document as a purchase receipt: See Adesanya V. Aderonmu [2000] 9 NWLR (Pt. 672) 370SC @384C-E; Olowolaramo V. Umechukwu [2003] 2 NWLR (Pt. 805) 537CA @551-552F-E.

[37]Supra @330-331H-A. It is disappointing that the Supreme Court did not follow Obijuru V. Ozims [1985] 1 NSCC (Vol. 16) 430 in this case. See the statement of the Court of Appeal setting forth the Pleading approach in Olowolaramo V. Umechukwu [2003] 2 NWLR (Pt. 805) 537CA @552A-C.

[38] [2007] 2 NWLR (Pt. 1018) 360CA.

[39] [1985] 1 NSCC (Vol. 16) 430.

[40] P. 440 Lines 9-21, Per Bello JSC (later CJN). See P. 439 Lines 29-43 for how the facts were pleaded.

[41] [1985] 1 NSCC (Vol. 16) 430 @440; [1985] 2 NWLR (Pt. 6)SC 167 following Bucknor-Maclean V. Inlaks Ltd., [1980] 12 NSCC 232 @244 lines 22-41.

[42][1985]1 NWLR (Pt. 4) 783SC @799 shows that the Lease agreement was not pleaded as a receipt. See also Registered Trustees of Apostolic Faith Mission V. James [1987] 3 NWLR (Pt. 61) 556SC @568. Possession, coupled with unregistered instruments gave title to the Respondents; Adesanya V. Otuewu [1993] 1 NWLR (Pt. 270) 414SC @431F, 437 C-F; Ogunjumo V. Ademolu [1995] 4 NWLR (Pt. 389) 254SC @265B-E;  Nsiegbe V. Mgbemena [2007] 10 NWLR (Pt. 1042) 364 @397D-G; Dantata V. Dantata [2002] 4 NWLR (Pt. 756) 144; lgbum V. Nyanriyan [2001] 5 NWLR (Pt. 707) 554CA; Dauda V. Bamidele [2000] 9 NWLR (Pt. 671) 199CA.

[43] It appears that the Supreme Court is reverting to the original position since in Agboola V. United Bank for Africa PLC [2011] 11 NWLR (Pt. 1258) 375SC @403-406, the Court was not impressed by the argument that a registrable instrument should not be acted on because it was not pleaded as a purchase receipt. Ffd. Alelu V. Eze [2015] 13 NWLR (Pt.1475) 74CA @96B-C.

[44] Section 29, Lagos State Lands Registration Law.

[45] Ayinla V. Sijuwola [1984] NSCC (Vol. 15) 301 @311 Lines 1-36.

[46] (1963) 1 All N. L. R. 304.

[47]Now Section 29 Lagos State Lands Registration Law.

[48] (1963) 1 All N. L. R. 30 @307. The slight alteration in the current Law in Lagos State is that the relevant date now is the date the document was presented for registration. See Section 29.

[49] See the language of Section 99 (2) “interests protected by registration.”

[50] See Folashade V. Duroshola (1961) 1 All N. L. R. 87; Ricketts V. Shote (Unreported) S. C. 461/61 of 4/4/63. See Gani Fawehinmi, Digest of Supreme Court Cases 1956-1984 (Vol. 9) 139-140; Akingbade V. Elemosho (1964) 1 All N. L. R. 154 @159; Ashimi V. Oke, [1966] NSCC (Vol. 4) 264, 266 Lines 18-20; Animashaun V. Olojo [1990] 6 NWLR (Pt. 154) 111SC @121F-G, per Obaseki, JSC, ffd. in Jiwul V. Dimlong [2003] 9 NWLR (Pt. 824) 154CA.

[51] See Section 66 dealing with overriding interests, esp. (d) & (g); Section 99(6) on rectification of the Register.

[52] Section 54 Registration of Titles Law (now repealed).

[53] (1943) 9 W. A. C. A. 189.

[54] Ibid., @192. The Court applied the doctrine of Notice in spite of S.54. This is in line with the statement of the Supreme Court in Folashade V. Duroshola, supra, that the Court will not fail to take notice of the doctrine of Notice wherever it applies.

[55] [1996] 4 All ER 630.

[56] Pp. 641-642.

[57] [1961] 2 All ER. 97 @ 103

[58] This statement was relied on in Carrick, supra wherein the Court also said it is for Parliament to decide whether the distinction observed between registered and unregistered land in England should continue. See Pp. 640-642.

[59] The Law only prescribes disadvantages like payment of additional fees in some cases for late registration, then loss of priority and inability to tender in Court: SS. 28, 29 & 30.

[60] Section 66 (d)&(g).

[61] Section 69.

[62] Section 70.

[63] Section 69(4)(c).

[64] Registration of Titles Law (now repealed).

[65] Ibid, S. 10 (1) and (2).

[66] Ibid, S.10 (1), (2) and (3). See Balogun V. Salami (1963) 1 All NLR 129.

[67] Ogunbambi V. Abowab (1951) 13 WACA 222 @225; Akingbade V. Elemohso [1964] 1 All NLR 154SC @159; Etajata V. Ologbo [2007] 16 NWLR (Pt. 1061) 554SC @ 602D, 603C.

[68] Ogunbambi V. Abowab, supra @225 per Verity, Ag. P; Akingbade V. Elemohso, supra.

[69] [1994] 1 NWLR (Pt. 321) 375 SC @386H, 387G. Ffd. Etajata V. Ologbo [2007] 16 NWLR (Pt. 1061) 554SC @603DE per Ogbuagu, JSC, but his Lordship upheld the finding in respect of another document similarly made pursuant to a transaction under Customary Law, that it was a land instrument: See P.601A-D; Timothy V. Fabusuyi [2013] 1 NWLR (Pt. 1335) 379CA @406-407H-A; Ngura V. Achikwu [2015] 9 NWLR 47CA @69C-G.

[70] [2006] 9 NWLR (Pt. 986) 474SC.

[71] In Etajata V. Ologbo [2007] 16 NWLR (Pt. 1061) 554SC @584-585H-A, 586H, 601A-D, another document similarly made following a Customary Law land transaction was held to be an instrument. See also Achilihu V. Anyatonwu [2013] 12 NWLR (Pt. 1368) 256SC @300-301G-B.

[72] Ibid @492-493C-H, 494G-H, 496C-E per Onoghen, JSC.

[73] Supra. Etajata V. Ologbo [2007] 16 NWLR (Pt. 1061) 554SC @603DE; Ngura V. Achikwu [2015] 9 NWLR 47CA @69C-G.

[74] In Etajata V. Ologbo, supra @586H, an agreement could not be treated as receipt because payment of money was not shown therein.

[75] The cases of Akingbade V. Elemohso, supra and Okoye V. Dumez Nig. Ltd., supra, which these authorities sought to rely on do not contain any notion of a “customary agreement” which would not qualify as instrument.

[76] Ejilemele V. Opara [2003] 9 NWLR (Pt. 826) 536SC @557F.

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