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UNDERSTANDING LAND DOCUMENTS IN NIGERIA

Land Classification

Land can be classified as either free or acquired. A parcel of land is considered free if the government has not indicated any interest whatsoever in that land. Such land is safe to buy because the title on the land can be perfected without issues.

In most cases, such lands will either have a gazette, a C of O or a governor’s consent.

EXCISION

An Excision means basically taking a part from a whole and that part that has been excised will be recorded and documented in the official government gazette of that state. In other words, not having an excision means the land could be seized by the Government anytime without compensating you even if you bought it “Legitimately” from the Baale or the Original dwellers on the land.

Global or General Acquisition

Lands that are under “general acquisition” or “global acquisition” can later be confirmed ‘free’ or ‘committed’ as the case may be.

A land under general acquisition can become free by a process called excision.

There are two types of acquisition:

  1. Committed Acquisition
  2. Global / General Acquisition.

Committed Acquisition

A parcel of land is said to be under committed acquisition when the government has indicated an intention to use that land for a specific purpose such as provision of amenities.

Such lands belong to the government and can never be available for use by individuals. If you purchase land that is under committed acquisition, it will be impossible for you to perfect your land title and you’ll only be occupying the land until the government comes to kick you out.

The following documents are usually involved when a purchase is made.

 

1 The purchase receipt

2 The contract of sale and

3 The deed of assignment

4 The survey plan

5 The Building plan for housing investment

6 Any other title document that may apply

 

WHAT IS LAND TITLE?

Land title may be defined as *the rights or ownership claim a person has over a property. It simply means, for you to claim land title, you must show other people the right you have over that land. E.g the land was willed to you by your late grandfather or you bought the property from another person and he handed over the title documents of the land or there was a dispute on the land and a court judgement awarded you the land as the owner etc.

To determine what title a person has over a property, a prospective buyer must inspect the available documents the seller is relying on to initiate the transaction.

DEED OF CONVEYANCE

Deed of Conveyance or Registered Conveyance was the authentic evidence of ownership until 1978 Land use Act that introduced Certificate of Occupancy.

Deed of Conveyance is old legal document used in transferring the interest of the owner of a landed property interest to the person to another whom it is assigned, the assignee. When ownership is transferred, the new legal document in use now is called deed of assignment.

A freehold is not a title. The remedy is to institute a legal document on the land like getting a Governors Consent, or C of O. (These are binding documents that can stand the test of time and stand in any court of law)

Question

In a situation you have the C of O and survey without Deed of Assignment for a land allocated by state government. Is the documents enough without Deed of Assignment?

Answer: Government schemes mostly doesn’t come with Deed of Assignment. What government gives in this case is Letter of Allocation and through the letter of assessment you obtained from the NTDA you can process your C of O.

Question: Does this mean that “Lands have to at least be excised before it can be sold or transferred to someone else”?

Answer: You become rightful owner of the land once the government release it to you via excision.

Though Governments recognize ancestral land ownership as excision is the right of the indigenous land owners.

CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY

A Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issued by the Lagos State Government officially leased Lagos land to you, the applicant, for 99 yrs. All lands belong to the Government.

GOVERNMENT BARRED LAND

Buying a Government barred land is risky. Government bars you from owning land it has acquired to build infrastructures such as airports, roads etc. Learn how to avoid buying a Government barred Land.

KNOW  THE DIFFERENCE Between Rectification and Ratification

 Don’t be confused. Rectification and Ratification means two separate things but they sound alike. Rectification means to correct a grave error on a document while Ratification means giving formal consent to a contract or agreement thereby making it validly official.

To understand how Rectification of Title to Land differs from Ratification of Title to land, we have to understand what a Land title means so we can comprehend it quite easily.

Question:

Is excision as good as obtaining c of o?

Is a person having excision still mandated to obtain c of o?

Answer: After a land has been excised and Gazetted then you can either process your C of O or Governor consent.

Excision does not expire while C of O expire after 99 years. The only advantage C of O has over Excision is that it can be used as collateral for getting loan in the bank

GOVERNOR’S CONSENT

A governor’s consent can only be processed on a land with either Gazette or an Existing Certificate of Occupancy (C of O).

If a person with land with C of O decides to sell his land, the only documents that can give the new buyer or every other subsequent buyer’s the right of occupancy or ownership is a governor’s consent.

The powers of the Governor to consent to such transactions can be found in Section 22 of the Land Use Act of 1978 which 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 consent of the Governor first had and obtained” This simply means therefore that even when a buyer has secured a land with a Certificate of Occupancy, he shouldn’t stop there.

He needs to begin the process of obtaining a Governor’s consent to make that purchase legal in the eyes of the government and be rest assured his land is safe.

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. The people that handle survey issues are Surveyors and they are regulated by the office of the Surveyor general in Lagos as it relates to survey issues in Lagos. 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 numbers
  6. 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

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. It is within those excised acres or hectares that the traditional family is entitled to sell its lands to the public and not anything outside those hectares of land given or excised to them.

DEED OF ASSIGNMENTS

Most people have the title documents to their cars intact and in safe places but fail to ask for the Deed of assignment to their properties which is several times more valuable than cars

A Deed of assignment is one of the transnational documents drawn up by a real estate attorney between the current title holder for a particular property and the new buyer.

In real property transactions, a deed of assignment is a legal document that transfers the interest of the owner of that interest to the person to whom it is assigned, the assignee. When ownership is transferred, the deed of assignment shows the new legal owner of the property.

The deed contains very pertinent information for a real estate transaction. It spells out the date when the ownership of the property transfers from one owner to the other. The deed also gives a specific description of the property that is included in the transfer of ownership.

It is very compulsory and mandatory for a Deed of Assignment document to be recorded at the appropriate land registry to show legal evidence as to the exchange of ownership in any land/landed property transaction in order to make the general public and government aware of such exchange or transaction.

 

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