Let’s talk about the most reliable land title documents in Nigeria.
The most important Title Documents are the government-recognized document that shows the rightful owner of the property.
They are valid evidence for the acquisition and possession of the landed property.
Land Use Act of 1978
To fully understand the reliable land title documents in Nigeria…
There is a need to know about the Land Use Act of 1978.
This law vested all Land in the territory of each State (except land vested in the Federal government or its agencies) solely in the Governor of the State, who would hold such Land in trust for the people and would henceforth be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the State and to organizations for residential, agriculture, commercial and other purposes while similar powers will with respect to non-urban areas are conferred on Local Governments(27th March 1978).
The Nigerian Land use Act of 1978 abolished the existing land tenure systems
And replaced them with a uniform Land Administration system across the Country.
Prior to the Act, there were three land tenure system
- The customary which was essentially based on the customs and traditions of the various communities with the Chief, community or family head holding the land in trust for family or community use
- The non-customary, based on the received English Law (operational mainly in the then Lagos Colony) which vested the land on the British Crown but also allowed for either free holding or lease holding with tenured occupancy
- And the special native-favored system of Northern Nigeria put the land under the control of the Governor for the use and benefit of the Natives of the Region. All the existing tenure systems encouraged landholding without an obligation to develop them, fragmentation and uncoordinated alienation, hoarding speculatively for value appreciation and without precise documentation.
Global Acquisition – Free or Committed
Since all land within the borders of any State have been vested in the Governor…
The default title of any land within the state is “Global Acquisition”.
This can either be the “Committed Global Acquisition” or the “Free Global Acquisition”.
Committed Global Acquisition is the title given to land that has been reserved by the government for a specific purpose.
No matter how long it takes, or even if it seems the government has forgotten or abandoned its plan…
This land cannot be sold, leased out, or rented legally!
It is fully considered as government land no matter where it is located; it is usually used for projects included in the State development master plans.
Free Global Acquisition, on the other hand, refers to land that can be excised by the government.
It is worthy of note that Lands under Free Global Acquisition can still be committed by the government if there is any tweak in the original State Master plan.
Therefore, it is advisable to not build on any land without perfecting its excision by the State government.
Excision in Progress
Please note that ‘Excision in process’ is not a title.
It is not a recognized land title documents in Nigeria!
Don’t be deceived by the way it is presented or packaged by agents, realtors, or their companies.
‘Excision in process’ or ‘Excision in progress’ means that the land has not been released back from the government.
This means that it is illegal to build on the land, excision approval is a 50-50 chance.
Most Common Land Title Documents in Nigeria
Excision document is proof that the land has been released by the government.
This is usually to the community to which the land belonged before the Land Use Act of 1978.
Land excision is usually recorded in the state’s official gazette.
The gazette is a public record…
And is available to the leaders of the communities whose ancestral lands are in question
it can be used as official documents for transactions on the land.
A good advantage of Excision is that as long as the land is part of the portion excised to the host community…
The land cannot be taken back by the government without due compensation.
Since all land belongs to the government and is under the stewardship of the state governments…
A record of all the lands that have been excised or still withheld is called a gazette.
This becomes an official document that is available to indigenous communities.
It can be used in place of the C of O.
With the help of a gazette, it is easy to know what portion of the land the government has released…
And what portion it is holding back from the community.
The gazette can be tendered as evidence of the right to sell, lease or rent out the land.
It is also a guarantee against government interference with the use or ownership of the land.
Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)
This is issued by either the state or the Federal Government.
It is the valid document that gives the bearer a level of control over the land.
It an important land document in Nigeria and guarantees a lease of the land from the government for 99 years.
A lot of debate is still out there about what happens to the C of O after 99 years, since the Land Use Act came into existence in 1978, the debate has been on with many favouring to just see what happens then.
According to article 22 of the land use act, as amended 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”
If a person with ‘C of O’ wants to sell his land, Governor’s permission is needed to make the transaction valid.
This is because all land within the state is vested in the Governor.
This permission is called the Governor’s Consent and must be part of the documents presented and acquired when purchasing land.
There is no valid transfer of ownership of lands and landed properties without the consent of the Governor.
Deed of Assignment
This is a very important land title document in Nigeria.
It should be demanded and acquired at all costs when buying land.
It is a document that details the transfer of ownership from one person (assignor) to another (assignee); with the conditions of the transfer.
The Deed of Assignment contains specific details of the land or building sold.
It also states specifically that the seller has relinquished any and every right, privilege, title, and interest in the land.
This land Document show the accurate measurement and description of the land that is being sold.
The document describes the borders of the land and the surveyor-general of the state regulates it.
It helps you to know if the piece of land in question is under any government commission or acquisition.
It also further strengthens the claim of the owner as it bears the details of the true owner.
Above are some documents you must understand and verify before going into a property transaction in Nigeria.
If you need help with due diligence or verifying any of the above document before a property purchase…