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The Supreme Court of Nigeria recently held in the case of Ibrahim v Obaje that a Power of Attorney can transfer interest in land to a donee and that the consent of the Governor is not needed for transfer of title or alienation of rights between private individuals where there is no overriding public interest or conflict between the parties.

Although this decision was handed down on 15 December 2017, it was only recently reported in the Nigerian Weekly Law Reports of 4 March 2019.

Summary of facts

The Respondent sued the Appellants at the High Court of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja claiming inter alia damages for trespass and declaration of title over a property located at Dutse Alhaji in Abuja covered by a Certificate of Occupancy issued by the Bwari Area Council in 1995. The Respondent claimed that the property was transferred to him by one Otitoju Bonte through an Irrevocable Power of Attorney given for value in 2000.

The Appellants denied the allegations and contended that the Respondent did not back up his claims for special damages with receipts. The High Court held in favor of the Respondent. The Appellants’ appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed. The Court of Appeal held that the Respondent properly commenced the action in his personal name (and not that of the donor of the Power of Attorney) because the Power of Attorney transferred the title in the land from the donor to the Respondent. The Court of Appeal also held that the evidence adduced by the Respondent was sufficient proof of the special damages claimed by the Respondent. Being dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeal, the Appellants appealed to the Supreme Court.