Legal Nuggets (77): Meaning and Nature of the Maxim "Quic Quid Plantatur Solo Solo Cedit".- By Adedotun Habeeb Adetunji, LL.M (M.IoD), FCAI

"...whatever is fixed or on the land becomes by extension part of the land for the purpose of ownership...if a person expends money in developing land that does not belong to him, he has only himself to blame..."


ISSUE: QUIC QUID PLANTATUR SOLO SOLO CEDIT-Meaning and nature of the maxim "quic quid plantatur solo solo cedit"

"The doctrine of 'quic quid plantatur solo solo credit' simply means whatever is fixed or on the land becomes by extension part of the land, for the purpose of ownership. The rationale behind this doctrine is that if a party is declared owner of a land in dispute, he automatically owns whatever attachment is on the said land; see NEPA V. AMUSA & ANOR. (1976) LPELR-1956 SC.

The lower Court having found that the appellant is the owner of the land in dispute was wrong to have made a declaration that he is not entitled to the structures on the land, because it believed the appellant did not specifically claim the strictures on the land in any of the reliefs sought.
The trial Court was wrong because once a determination is made of the ownership of the land, ownership of what is on or attached to the land is automatic by operation of the maxim; see EKPAN V. UYO (1986) 3 NWLR (PT. 26) 63; ONUWAJE V. OGBEIDE (1991) 3 NWLR (PT. 178) 147 and ADEPATE V. BABATUNDE (2002) 4 NWLR, PT. 756, PG. 99.

I have seen the reluctance of the trial Court in applying this principle of law, the reluctance is partly borne out of the magnitude of the building, i.e. 25 structures. But the law is clear. It is settled law, that if a person expends money in developing land that does not belong to him, he has only himself to blame. The development or structures on the land no matter how massive would not matter, because it would not preclude the rightful owner of the land from taking over the land together with the building on it; see EKPAN V. CHIEF UYO (1986) 3 NWLR (PT. 26) 63 AT73, (1986) 5 SC 29; ONUWAJE V. OGBEIDE (1991) 3 NWLR (PT. 178) 165. In NEPA V. MUDASIRU AMUSA & ANOR. (1976) 12 SC 99 AT 114.

The appellant did not have to state his entitlement to the structures on the land, once he is able to establish title to the land, which he has done, even by the admission of the trial Court. Then it follows that the structures also belong to the appellant, as they are part and parcel of the land, literally. The fact that the respondent is a local government does not mean that it can wantonly destroy property of the appellant and construct its own on the appellant's land, without due process, and expect to be treated differently. As a matter of fact, for that same reason the respondent is expected to abide by the law.

Besides relief (d), contrary to the findings of the trial Court is specifically for:
"an order setting aside any purported acquisition and the occupation and to order a reversion of the interest in the land or retain the ownership of the said land in the claimant Adeyemi Ademola Olorundami."

It is very important to have recourse to the findings of the trial Court at 61 of the record of appeal, where it held that:
"...the Court is entitled to take into consideration the high handed and flagrant invasion of the claimant's possession of the land in dispute without valid acquisition and compensation as required by law"....; now having found that, one is at a loss as to why the trial Court could not declare such 'flagrant invasion' illegal, and therefore null and void.

The recourse to equity by the trial Court in denying the appellant's reliefs (a) and (e) is erroneous, not least because equity cannot be applied in clear violation of the provisions of the Land Use Act; see BANK OF IRELAND V. UNION BANK OF NIGERIA LTD. & ANOR. (1998) LPELR-1293 SC." Per MUSTAPHA, JCA.(Pp.13-16,Paras.C-B)

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