Nigeria: What to Know About Land Titles in Nigeria and How They Impact Your Property

22 June 2021

The importance of Land Titles cannot be overemphasised.

People who have taken it for granted have either lost a lot of money or found themselves embroiled in unnecessary litigation.

Before you acquire any property, it is pertinent that you ask, know and verify what title comes with the property. It is always best to investigate before you invest.

However, even when you have verified what kind of title comes with your acquired property, you also need to know how that title impacts your property.

Historically, all lands belong to the indigenous families dwelling on such lands but the Land Use Act, enacted in 1978 vested all urban land within a state in the state governor to hold on behalf of the people, and as such the governor is therefore responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the state or to organizations for residential, agricultural, commercial, and other purposes.

Specifically, there are different types of land titles a land may have, and consequently different impacts on the said land.

FREE OR UNDER ACQUISITION

A free land is that which the government has not indicated any interest in, while a land is said to be under government acquisition if the government has an interest in the area for the purpose of urban development or industrialization projects.

GLOBAL ACQUISITION OR COMMITTED ACQUISITION

The land under government acquisition can either be global acquisition or committed acquisition. The land with committed acquisition means the government has designated that parcel for a specific project as such those parcels of land can never be released to individuals or organizations for development projects. Acquiring lands that are under committed acquisition will eventually lead to the loss of such investments when government moves to take full possession of such a parcel of land.

Whereas a land under global acquisition does not have a specific government purpose yet and as such those parcels of land can be later be free or committed as the case maybe.

There are 2 main processes for making a land under global acquisition to be free.

1. Excision and

2. Ratification.

EXCISION AND GAZETTE

To excise a land means to cut it. This is the process whereby the government releases a parcel of land back to the indigenous owners of such lands for the purpose of residential and commercial developments. When this excised parcel of land is published in government official gazette such a land is said to have Gazette as title. Excision and gazette are very good titles for a piece of land; such lands are safe to buy and develop. The gazette then becomes the title on the land and such land is safe to buy because a proper title can be processed on the land.

CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY

This is the most popular land title most people are familiar with. It's a very good title. Lands with Certificate of Occupancy are extremely safe to invest in. A Certificate of Occupancy is usually issued by the State Government and it connotes that the state government has officially leased the piece of land to the applicant, for 99 years.

GOVERNOR'S CONSENT

When a land with Certificate of Occupancy is sold to another person it is required that such a person must now obtain the Consent of the Governor before that transaction can be deemed legal in the eyes of the Government. As the name sounds, a governor's consent means the governor consented to the transaction; the transfer of ownership of a parcel of land with certificate of Occupancy from one person to the other.

REGISTERED DEED OF ASSIGNMENT

A Deed of Assignment is an agreement between the owner and seller of the property and the buyer of the property showing that the seller has transferred all his rights, title interest and ownership to the buyer. Upon the exchange of the deed of assignment, and the registration of the document at the land registry, the land or property becomes completely and legally owned by the buyer of the property.

Dr Freeman Osonuga is a Multi-award winning Nigerian Real Estate Investor, Advisor and Broker. He is a global leader who effortlessly dons many caps and has made an easy meal of successfully being a Real Estate Broker, Philanthropist, Best-selling Author, International Public Speaker, Medical Doctor and a successful entrepreneur in all his strides.

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