Land Documentation in Nigeria: What You Need to Know
In Nigeria, there are various land documents that affect the transfer of land ownership and legal interest in a property. A prospective land buyer must be familiar with the relevant land documents for the property to be purchased.
Classification of Land
There are two types of land: free and acquired. A parcel of land is considered free if the government has not expressed any interest in it. Such land is risk-free to purchase because the title to the land can be perfected without difficulty.
However, you should be aware that all lands within designated “urban areas” are subject to government acquisition until they are judged committed or free.
Acquisition can be divided into two categories:
When the government expresses a desire to use a parcel of property for a specified purpose, such as the provision of amenities, it is said to be under committed acquisition.
Individuals will never be allowed to use such lands because they belong to the government. You will be unable to perfect your land title if you purchase land that is subject to committed acquisition, and you will only be able to occupy the land until the government arrives to throw you out.
Global or General Acquisition
Lands under “general acquisition” or “global acquisition” can later be confirmed as “free” or “committed,” depending on the situation.
Excision is a process that allows land that is under general acquisition to become free.
“Excision is a process in which the government releases a portion of an uncommitted area of land.” When a tract of land that was formerly subject to acquisition is excised, it is termed free and gazetted.
The gazette then becomes the land’s title, making it safe to purchase because a valid title can be obtained.
A second situation in which lands under general acquisition can be released is when an individual purchases a land that was under acquisition without going through the excision process. Such lands can be ratified or regularized through a procedure known as “ratification” or “regularization,” in which the property owner pays to have the land ratified or regularized. The only requirements in this scenario are that the land in question does not fall within a designated region and that the purpose for which it was purchased does not conflict with the state’s original plan.
Let’s look at the meaning of each land document in Nigeria now that you know how to classify land.
Deed Of Assignments
A deed of assignment is a transactional document between the present title holder for a property and the new buyer that is drawn out by a real estate attorney.
For a real estate transaction, the deed contains critical information. It specifies the date on which ownership of the property passes from one owner to the other. The deed also provides a detailed description of the property that is being transferred.
A Deed of Assignment document must be recorded at the appropriate land registry to provide legal evidence of the exchange of ownership in any land/landed property transaction and to make the general public and government aware of such exchange or transaction.
A survey plan is a document that accurately measures and describes the border of a parcel of property. Surveyors are the people who deal with survey concerns, and the office of the Surveyor General in a state regulates them. The following information must be included in a survey plan:
- The owner of the surveyed property’s name
- The surveyor’s address or description of the land
- The area of the land that was surveyed
- The section of the land survey is sketched out and laid out on the survey plan document.
- The numbers on the beacons
- The name of the surveyor who wrote up the survey plan, as well as the date he or she wrote it up.
- A stamp indicating whether the land is subject to government acquisition or not.
Excision is defined as the removal of a portion of a whole, with the excised portion being recorded and documented in the state’s official government gazette. In other words, if you don’t have an excision, the government can grab your land at any point without compensating you, even if you bought it “legitimately” from the Baale or the original settlers.
The communities or villages that have been awarded excision, as well as the quantity of acres or hectares of land that the government has given them, will be listed in a gazette. The traditional family has the right to sell its holdings to the public only inside those excised acres or hectares, not outside those hectares of land given or excised to them.
A gazette is an official record book in which all special government details are spelled out, detailed, and documented.
If the government decides to revoke or acquire your land for reasons best known to them, you will be entitled to compensation as long as it is within the Excised lands given to that community.
To find out if a piece of land is under acquisition or has an excision that has been covered by a Gazette, hire a surveyor to map it out and take it to the surveyor general’s office for a piece of land information to see whether it falls inside the gazette.
Certificate of Occupancy
The State Government awarded you, the applicant, a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) that formally leased land to you for 99 years. The government owns all lands.
The approval of a governor of a state or his delegate in any transaction involving the transfer of ownership or other interests in land or landed property must be given by the governor or his delegate in order for the transaction to be legal at law.
To have complete peace of mind, it is critical for a land buyer to perfect his or her document by acquiring a Governor’s consent. Although it is advantageous to purchase land that already has a Global C of O or a Gazette, this does not provide you with complete assurance that you own the land without danger of Omoniles intervention.