Inua-na-mallam Yaya V. Alhaji Ibrahim Mogoga (1947)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Land Registration Ordinance, sections 2 and 15—Definition of ” Instrument “—” Cash Payment Receipt ” for purchase price of house—Regulation 5 of Regulations made under section 28 of Land Registration Ordinance.
A receipt for purchase money of land, simpliciter, is no more than evidence that there was an agreement for sale and that the consideration for such sale has been paid by the purchaser.
Such a receipt is not an ” instrument ” within the definition of that word in section 2-of the Land Registration Ordinance and is exempted from the provisions of that Ordinance by Regulation 5 of the Regulations made under section 28 of the Ordinance (vide, Laws of Nigeria, 1947 Revision, Vol. VIII, p. 383).
Appeal from the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
The following joint judgment was delivered:
This is an appeal from the judgment of Brooke, J., in two actions between the same parties, which actions were consolidated, the present appellant being, for the purpose of trial, nominated as plaintiff.
The facts as pleaded are not up to a point in dispute—that is :
- That the plaintiff and defendant had some transactions with each other over some cattle deals.
- That the time came when the plaintiff found himself indebted to the defendant in respect of these transactions.
- That a time came subsequent to these transactions when the plaintiff handed over to the defendant the title deeds of his property at Agege.
The original action was brought by the appellant who by his writ claimed :
- An account of the rents collected by the respondent in respect of that property.
- Payment of any excess found to be owing over and above his indebtedness to the respondent.
- The return of the documents of title in respect of the said house.
Subsequent to the issue of the original writ the respondent issued a writ against the appellant claiming that the appellant had sold to him, the respondent, his property at Agege and asking for an Order that the appellant should execute a conveyance of the said property to the respondent.
The consolidated cases came to trial and in the result the learned trial Judge found that neither side could succeed and therefore that the claim in each suit failed—no order was made as to costs. From this decision the present appellant, the plaintiff in Suit No. 27/45, has appealed.
Three grounds of appeal have been advanced of which we are of the opinion that only one, the first, is of any substance. This first ground reads as follows:—
“There was misreception of evidence in accepting as evidence an unregistered and improperly executed instrument contrary to law (and on amendment allowed by this Court) to wit Exhibit ‘ G ‘•”
In his argument, learned Counsel for the appellant confined himself to the question of Exhibit ” G ” being ” unregistered ” and said nothing about
” improper execution “. Learned Counsel for the appellant has referred us to section 15 of the Land Registration Ordinance which reads as follows:—
” No instrument shall be pleaded or given in evidence in any Court as affecting any land unless the same shall have been registered.”
There is a proviso to this section by Ordinance 13/1944 which proviso, however, does not affect this case.
At the trial it was submitted that what later became Exhibit ” G ” was not admissible by reason of section 15. This objection was, on terms, dropped but has now been resuscitated as a matter for consideration by this Court in our inherent power.
It has been submitted that, in spite of the fact that objection to the admissibility of Exhibit ” G ” had been dropped, it is the duty of this Court to see that the law as laid down in section 15 is not infringed—with that contention we are in complete agreement.
What we have to decide is the question of whether the Exhibit ” G ” is an ” instrument ” within the definition of that word as laid down in section 2 of the Land Registration Ordinance. For the purposes of this case that definition reads as follows:—
“Instrument” means a document affecting land in Nigeria wherein one party . . . confers transfers . . . in favour of another party . . . any right or title to or interest in land in Nigeria . . . , etc.
Let us now examine Exhibit ” G “—the alleged ” instrument “. This reads as follows:—
” Penalty £10.
” Stamp Duty £1 15s. Od.
” A CASH PAYMENT RECEIPT.
” I the undersigned Inuah Namola Yaya of No. 28 Sunmola Lane Lagos had and received from Mr. Ibraheem Mogoga of No. 38 Ajishomo Street Lagos the sum of (i160) One hundred and sixty pounds sterling being full purchase money paid to me for a dwelling house situate lying and being at Agege via Ebute Metta.
” The said dwelling house sold and delivered to him.
” Dated at Lagos this day 24th of January, 1938.
” (Signed in Arabic) (His mark). ” Writer and witness to mark (Sgd). L. B. Sogunro
- Palm Church Street, Lagos.
” Witnesses to mark: (Sgd). Mallam Tanko
” 71, Simpson Street, Ebute Metta.
” (Sgd). Hadji Mohamend Priest
- Palm Church Street, Lagos, Nigeria.”
On consideration can it seriously be said that this document confers or transfers any right or title to or interest in land ? We think not. All this document can be is evidence of an agreement between the parties to transfer certain property in future and an acknowledgment that the purchase price has been paid. Would any future purchaser accept Exhibit ” G ” as a title ?
‘A simple example will, we think, clarify our point of view—A agrees to sell to B a property for £5,000. B pays £2,000 on account of such sale and A gives him a receipt worded as follows:—
” Received from B the sum of £2,000 being in part payment of the sum of £5,000 in respect of my sale to him of my ‘ house ‘.”
Can it be seriously suggested that such a receipt must be registered as coming
within the definition of ” Instrument ” ? To carry the example further—B
pays A the balance of £3,000 and A gives him a receipt in the following terms :-
” Received from B the sum of £3,000 being balance of amount owing by B in respect of the sale to him of my house.”
Can these two receipts be said to transfer any right or title ? We think not. All they are (as is Exhibit ” G “) is evidence that there was an agreement for sale and that the consideration for such sale has been paid by the purchaser.
If we are correct in our finding then all that Exhibit ” G ” can do is to prove an agreement for sale and the payment of the purchase price. If this be so then Regulation 5 of the Land Registration (Agreements Exemption No. 2) Regulations, 1944, clearly applies.
The appeal is dismissed with costs assessed at X17 15s. Od.