Josiah Sobanjo V. Adesina Oke And Ogunsanya Onabote (1954)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West African Court of Appeal
Real property—Onus on claimant—Defendant in possession.
The claim was (inter alia) for a declaration of title to certain land; it stated the eastern boundary as the farmland of a certain family and the southern as the farmland of another family, but the plan put in by the plaintiff gave another name as the neighbour on the east.
The defendants admitted that the plaintiff was owner of the land to the north-west of a certain line to be drawn between two points on the plan; of the land to the south of that line the defendants had, admittedly, been in possession for ten years before the action, and the plaintiff had to prove title to it.
At the trial the defendants were absent for a certain reason; the plaintiff called evidence but the Judge held that he had failed to make out a prima facie case, and gave judgment for the plaintiff in respect of the land which the defendants conceded to him and for the defendants in respect of the land they claimed.
The plaintiff appealed complaining that the Judge had drawn an imaginary line and given judgment without any authority.
The line was not imaginary: there was the admission of the defendants for the demarcation of that line; but in regard to the land to the south of that line, the burden was on the plaintiff to prove his claim, which, however, he failed to discharge.