Understanding Land Titles in Nigeria

There is need to understand land titles in Nigeria before investing in any landed property/properties. Below are the land titles in Nigeria:

SURVEY PLAN

A Survey plan is a document that measures the boundary of a parcel of land to give an accurate measurement and description of that land. Every land must be surveyed by a certified surveyor and a survey plan submitted to the government for approval.

The people that handle survey issues are Surveyors and they are regulated by the office of the Surveyor General of the state where the land is located. A survey plan must contain the following information:

1. The name of the owner of the land surveyed

2. The Address or description of the land surveyed

3. The size of the land surveyed

4. The drawn out portion of the land survey and mapped out on the survey plan document

5. The beacon (unique) numbers

6. The name and signature of the surveyor who drew up the survey plan and the date it was drawn up

7. A stamp showing the land is either free from Government acquisition or not.

EXCISION

The Land Use Act of March, 1978 vested all lands within the jurisdiction of a state in the custody of the governor of that state. Prior to this time, traditional families had absolute control over large portion of lands which was dedicated for personal use or leased out mainly for agricultural purposes.
The government still recognizes that indigenes of each community has a right to the land of their birth, hence; it is customary for state government to cede a portion of land to the original owners (natives)

Excision therefore is a process whereby the government releases a portion of an expanse of land that is not committed. If a parcel of land that was formerly under acquisition become excised, it is then considered free and eventually becomes gazette (recorded and documented in government’s official book).

DEED OF ASSIGNMENT

A Deed of Assignment is a mutual agreement between the seller of a land or property and a buyer of that land or property showing evidence that the seller has transferred all his rights, his title, his interest and ownership of that land to that the buyer that has just bought the land or property. Such recorded Deed of Assignment come in the form of Registered Conveyance.

After the Deed of Assignment has been exchanged between both parties, it has to be recorded in the land registry to show legal proof that the land has exchanged hands and for the public to be aware of it.

CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY (C OF O)


A Certificate of Occupancy (C OF O) is a certificate issued by the state government officially leasing a piece of land in the state to the applicant for 99 years. In case of eventuality by the government, it means the landlord would be compensated to the tune or amount of the cost of the land as compensation.

Processing land title documents in Lagos, especially C of O takes more than 18 months to be approved and that is why C of O document on a land greatly appreciates the value and increases the price of the land.

This doesn’t mean that the state government won’t compensate you if you have a land that doesn’t have the C of O title, should they find a purpose for the land in the future. Once a land is excised, you are cover. And even when the excision has not been approved, you will be compensated as long as it has been filed, sent in and paid for.

GAZETTE

A Gazette is an Official record book where all special government details are spelt out, detailed and recorded. A Gazette will show the communities or villages that have been granted excision and the number of acres or hectares of land that the government has given to them.

A community owning a gazette as a land document can only sell lands to an individual within those lands that have been excised to them and the community or family head of that land has the right to sign your documents for you if you purchase lands within those excised acres or hectares of land.

If the government based on some reasons best known to them decides to revoke or acquire your land, you will be entitled to compensation as long as it’s within the excised lands given to that community.

The best way to know whether a land is under acquisition or has an excision that has been covered by a Gazette is to get a surveyor to chart the site and take it to the surveyor general’s office to do a land information search so as to ascertain whether it falls within the gazette and spell out which particular location it can be found.


The Following Are Features of a Gazette:-

i. The logo of the country and the inscription of the title e.g “LAGOS STATE OF NIGERIA OFFICIAL GAZETTE”.
ii. Underneath it must have the number, volume, page, date and the location it was signed into law.
iii. The description of the area or village excised.
iv. The number of acres or hectares of land excised to the village.
v. The page in which the description of the excised village is.
vi. Where the boundaries of the beacons start and stop.

GOVERNOR’S CONSENT

A Governor’s Consent is a land document that lets the Governor and the general public know that the land in question has changed hands.

According to Section 22 of the LAND USE ACT 1978 as amended; this states thus:
“It shall not be lawful for the holder of a statutory right of occupancy granted by the Governor to alienate his right of occupancy or any part thereof by assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sublease or otherwise howsoever without the prior consent of the Governor”

 It is very important for a purchaser of land to perfect his or her document by obtaining Governor’s consent so as to have a reassurance. Simply put; if you are purchasing a new land which has neither been previously occupied by anyone or under acquisition by government, then you are entitled to C of O. If you are however purchasing a land which has already been previously acquired by another person, then a Governor’s consent is needed to validate such transaction.

An advantage of having a Governor’s consent is that you can transfer your land to another person without going to the Omonile or Family Baale to sign your deed and Form 1c which are compulsory requirements needed before you can process Governors consent.

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