Background to the study

Land, probably the most important source of shelter and wealth in a developing country, can always be subject of a great many interests and derivative rights((Agara v. Agunbiade[2013] All FWLR pt. 683 p. 1899 at 1919 para. D)). These are often difficult to elucidate, and where land is subject to native customary tenure, it is always the subject of rights and interests vested in both the individual and group, and such rights and interests are frequently co-existent with each other.

The customary land tenure system is a form of land holding indigenous to Nigeria. The evolution of this system and the various principles regulating same, exhibit the historical credentials rooted in the customs and traditions of different ethno-cultural groupings in Nigeria over a period of time. Essentially, the principles regulating the customary land tenure system appears uniform throughout the country but the fact remains that they vary in their details as a result of diversities in the customs, traditions and values of each tribe.

Generally, ‘land’ is said to include any building and any other thing attached to the earth or permanently fastened to anything so attached, but does not include minerals.((Coker, G. B. A., 1958. Family Property among the Yorubas. London. Sweet and Maxwell, p. 26)) Actual physical control of native lands is vested in the families and only in the sense that it is an aggregate of the constituent family groups could the community or tribe be said to own the land.((Coker, ibid p. 24))