Udekwu Amata & Ors V. Udogu Modekwe & Ors (1954)
LawGlobal Hub Judgment Report – West Africa Court of Appeal
Real property—Claim for declaration of title—Precise boundaries needed and an accurate plan.
In each of the four suits the respondents were the plaintiffs and the appellants the defendants.
The plaintiffs were successful in their claim for a declaration of title to an area of land shown on a plan. They had let out portions of it to the defendants on fanning tenancies and had, an earlier suit, obtained judgment for rent, to which judgment they pointed proof of their claim in the present suit.
The defendants alleged that the plaintiffs were the owners only up to a certain line, and that it was only for portions of land up to that line that they had entered into tenancy agreements, whilst the land on the other side of the line was their own.
The plan had been put in by consent in the previous suit, without being testified to by the surveyor in the present suit. The defendants complained that the evidence of the boundaries was inadequate and that the boundary in dispute was undefined; and doubts on its accuracy were also cast by the fact that it showed villages of the defendants within the land claimed by the plaintiffs.
The Court of Appeal allowed further evidence to be taken from two persons after inspection of the land. Their testimony was that from the plan the land could not be identified because no distances or bearings were shown and there was no agreed point of origin, and that the plaintiffs could not point to any definite demarcation of where they ceased to claim.
In the previous suit, in which the claim was for rent for farming on portions of certain land specified by name, no detailed description of the land was given or was perhaps necessary; in the present suit, in which the claim was for a declaration of title, precise boundaries were necessary, particularly on the side in dispute; but the plan was inaccurate and the evidence so unsatisfactory that no judgment should be founded upon it.
Appeal allowed; plaintiffs non-suited.