Chief Akinlolu Oloto V. Victor Williams & Anor (1944)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Pleading—Land—Claim for declaration of ownership—Claim that land had never been alienated and was free of any customary tenancy under native law—Defence that land had been alienated—Facts found for defendants—Judgment for plaintiff as owner of reversion—Existence of reversionary right not in issue—Nonsuit.
The Plaintiff-Respondent claimed a declaration that he and his family were the owners’ of certain land ; in the writ he stated that the land had not been alienated to any other party ; and in the statement of claim he alleged that the ownership of the land was free of any tenancy under native law and custom.
The Defendants-Appellants in their defence alleged that their ancestor was a grantee in respect of the land and that their family had been in possession ever since the date of the grant.
The trial Judge was satisfied that the defendants’ statement of these facts was correct, and that the plaintiff’s statement of the facts was incorrect ; but he gave judgment for the plaintiff, on the ground that the right enjoyed by the defendants under the grant was a right of occupation under native law and custom which left a reversionary right of ownership in the plaintiff.
The trial Judge, having found as a fact that the defendants-appellants were correct in their allegations that a grant of the land had been made to their ancestor, could not then give judgment for the plaintiff-respondent in respect of a claim containing expressly contrary allegations ; and the finding that there was a reversionary right in the plaintiff-respondent should not have been made because the question of the existence of such a right had not been in issue.
The appellants are awarded costs in this Court assessed at 30 guineas and in the Court below assessed at 45 guineas.