There is No Law In Nigeria That Bars Husband & Wife From Buying or Selling Land Together or From Joint Ownership of Property
I have just read a piece written by Onyekachi Umah Esq (of the “Daily Law Tips” fame), and titled, ”Husband And Wife Cannot Buy/Own A Land Together In Nigeria,” (published on www.thenigerialawyer.com). ▪️With due respect to you, Mr Onyekachi Umah, please, why would you say that husband and wife cannot buy or own land together? ▪️Your statement reproduced below is a gross misstatement of the law as it is in Nigeria:
”… the Land Use Act governing lands and land use in Nigeria, does not cover joint ownership of land by couple as a single unit. So, a husband and his wife cannot both be a seller or purchaser of a single property. It is either of a couple that can be a seller or a buyer at any given time. Hence, “Mr. Adamu Obi & Mrs. Funke Obi” though they are married, they are not legally recognised beings that can own land, transact on them, sue or be sued. However, not- minding which spouse’s name is on a deed of assignment/sale or certificate of occupancy, a spouse is equally entitled to all the property of the other spouse under matrimonial joint ownership.” 1️⃣A husband and the wife are two separate human beings each with full legal capacity to own or purchase property separately or jointly as they may desire. 2️⃣There is no law in Nigeria that bars a husband and his wife from joint purchase or ownership of property. 3️⃣Contrary to the wrong notion you gave in your article, the true position of law is that ”Mr. Adamu Obi and Mrs. Funke Obi” (as husband & wife) are competent to purchase, sell, or own property jointly as such. 4️⃣In OSUJI v. EKEOCHA (2009) LPELR-2816(SC), the court had held that ”the parties were joint owners of the property”
and an appeal to upturn that finding/holding of the court had got thrown out by both the CA and the SC. 5️⃣As opposed to what you think, that case is an authority reiterating JOINT ownership of property, by any two or more persons, including a couple. 6️⃣In your article under reference, you appear to agree that husband and wife are two separate persons each with full legal capacity (see Married Women Property Act 1882, the Married Women Property Law 1959). 6️⃣Why then would you suggest that they cannot own, buy or sell property jointly? Have you not heard of partners, joint owners or joint tenant? 7️⃣It is a huge self-contradiction for you to , in one breath, agree (as you have) that a couple can jointly register and own a company, and be the shareholders and directors thereof, and then, in another breath, dispute that the same couple (who, according to you, can own a company jointly) cannot jointly acquire or own landed property. ▪️That is bizarre,8️⃣Is a company not property capable of being owned? ▪️Is joint ownership of a company not a form of joint ownership of property? 9️⃣May I advise that you need to engage in proper research as a lawyer, before coming out to publish anything, because whatever you publish goes round the world and (like this one) could mislead unsuspecting or ignorant readers, especially innocent non-lawyers. 🔟Further, I wonder whether you had made any attempt at having a second look at your grammar before sending this piece to a blogger or journalist for publication. 1️⃣1️⃣ It is my candid advice that you try to be not be in a hurry to publish; you need to calm down, conduct a through scrutiny into your work with a view to weeding out unpardonable grammar errors, before publishing. 1️⃣2️⃣We are not perfect in the English Language usage; no one is, because it is a second language to us. ▪️But there are certain types of grammar constructions that become unacceptable and unpardonable when dished out by a lawyer; a lawyer is supposed to have a good command of the language. 1️⃣3️⃣It is important at this juncture for me to, by way of conclusion, say a word or two about what the true position of law is with respect to ownership of property by a couple. ▪️It bothers on the concept of legal personality. You remember the SC case that held that a law firm cannot validly sign a legal document because (1) a law firm in not a legal person and (2) a law firm is not a lawyer duly called to the Nigerian Bar as defined in section 24, section 8, and section 2, LPA, Cap L11, LFN, 2004). ▪️In the same manner, a couple cannot purchase or sell property as ”Mr. and Mrs. Adamu Obi” (husband & wife) but a couple can purchase, own or sell property as ”Mr. Adamu Obi and Mrs. Funke Obi (husband & wife).” ▪️Reason: the former is not a legal person recognized by law as having capacity to hold property it to enter into a contract. ▪️Perhaps, this was the message you had in mind to pass (judging from your reference to “as a single unit”), although you ended up saying an altogether different, wrong, thing.
▪️Take note, please!
Respectfully, Sylvester Udemezue (UDEMS)