Land Matters in Nigeria
How to register your land, make land agreement, make land papers, or get Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)? Hang on!
Do you know it’s not only when someone acquire a land or landed property forcefully that he can lose it to the government or other people? Yes! Your property can be confiscated when you have not done the necessary registration of the land and other requirements that can declare you as the legal owner of the land.
How then do you protect your land? Follow this article to the end and see tips that will help you protect your land.
What is land registration?
Land registration simply means a system by which all issues that has to do with ownership, possession and transactions made in purchasing a land is recorded with the concerned authority. It provides doubtless evidence that you are the rightful and legal owner of the land whenever the need arises.
Land registration saves you the stress of having to deal with threat, disturbance or dispute in the future. It’s therefore imperative to involve a legal practitioner from the start so you can be guided through the process.
Here are five major steps involved in land registration:
1. Mutual agreement: There must be an agreement between the vendor and the purchaser . This is usually called verbal contract.
2. Now, in respect to what has been agreed upon, a sale document must be prepared for proper record.
3. After the sale document is being prepared, stamp duty, consent fees, capital gains tax and registration fee has to be paid.
4. The deed is then forwarded to designated bodies for endorsement.
5. The final step is the transfer or change of ownership which can be best carried out through an irreversible power of an attorney.
Importance of land registration
1. It serves as proof of ownership
2. Getting your land registered qualifies you to be compensated when your land is acquired by the government. Possibly for public interest. In compliance with Part V of the Land Use Act, LFN 2004.
3. It saves you from fraudulent sales.
4. It protects your land from unauthorized occupier.
Land Registry in Nigeria
Land registry is a sensitive government agency that deals anything that has to do with land matters.
A land registry is established in every state under the land registration law. That is, each state has it own land registry. This implies that there’s always a land registry near to you.
Locations of land registry offices in some states in Nigeria:
i. Federal land registry Ikoyi, Lagos State
ii. Ministry of land housing and survey Ibadan, oyo state
iii. EdoGIS Benin city
Iv. Kano state bureau for land management. Kano
v. Ministry of land and hosing Calabar, Cross river state
vi. Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning. Abere, Osun State. etc
It’s advisable you go to a land registry near to you to verify the uniqueness of the documents of the land you are about to buy. However, doing this can be a little bit stressful but getting a legal assistance will make this process much more easier. Get a trusted lawyer.
Duties of the land registry include the following:
1. Proper storage of all land transaction records.
2. Deeds registration and court judgement.
3. They register the instruments that affects land.
4. Administration of the Electronic Document Management System.
Land Agreement in Nigeria
Land agreement is the formal contract between the person who decides to sell and the one who agrees to buy a land or landed property under specific terms and conditions. Simply put, this is called ”Sale Agreement“.
Land sale Agreement must contain the following:
1. The full details of the assignor and assignee. Such as; addresses, qualifications, occupations , names etc. This is known as “parties clause”.
Note: parties involved in sale agreement may not necessarily be two individuals. They may be more than two people.
2. Adequate explanation on how vendor became the owner of the land he is about sell must be included. This is called the “Recital clause“.
3. The “Consideration clause” must be mentioned in the agreement i.e the payment method agreed on by the vendor and purchaser, either to be paid in installments or at once.
4. The “Covenant clause” i.e the future responsibilities of each parties in regards to the land about to be purchased must be included. Meaning that, the vendor’s obligation to indemnify the buyer against all interruption or disturbance which may arise in the future must be mentioned and also the buyer’s promise to abide by the spelled out terms must be properly written in the sale agreement
5. In a case whereby one party defaults under any terms agreed upon, the contract can be terminated. This is called the “Termination clause“.
Land transfer in Nigeria is the system in which the legal rights to a land already sold out are transferred from one person to another.
The process of transfer of land ownership is called land mutation which means change of property title. This requires the intervention of a lawyer in order to avoid future disturbance or dispute as touching the ownership of the property.
The primary document of land ownership transfer from one party to the other is called “Deed of Assignment“.
Deed of Assignment in Nigeria
Deeds of Assignment is a legal agreement to transfer a property from the current owner to someone else. I.e. if a land has been sold out to another person, there should be a deed of assignment or conveyance pronouncing the purchaser as the legal owner of the land.
Importance of Deeds of Assignments:
1. It is essential in proving the legitimacy of the land.
2. It binds the legality of transactions made.
3. It declares you as the legal owner of the land in case someone else attempt to claim its ownership in future.
4. It serves as a proof that all due diligence have been completed.
Who prepares the Deed of Assignment?
In Nigeria, a Deed of Assignment should be prepared by a lawyer. And it is usually done within four (4) to six(6) weeks.
What is a deed of assignment made of?
1. The assignor and the assignee’s names and addresses.
2. A statement that all ownership rights to the land are transferred.
3. Description of the land.
4. Signature of the assignor and the assignee(s).
A deed of assignment must be recorded with the state government for its execution according to the provision of the Land Use Act, LFN 2004.
Certificate of Occupancy
Certificate of occupancy is a title document issued by a local authority to landowners, which serves as legal proof that a house or building can be occupied according to the law.
The most important document to a landowner in Nigeria is the Certificate of occupancy.
Not getting a C of O as a landowner is very dangerous because it may cause you to lose the land or landed property. It’s important to note that a land without a C of O cannot be legally occupied and it can be seized by the government at any point in time.
Content of a C of O includes:
1. Number of the C of O
2. The file number
3. Details about the location of the property
4. Number of plot
5. Shape of the land
6. Date of transaction
7. Purpose of the land etc.
Benefits of having a C of O:
1. It helps to confirm whether the land is safe to be occupied.
2. The C of O can be accepted as collateral for bank loans.
3. It increases the value of one’s land particularly in Abuja.
4. It declares you as the rightful owner of the land.
5. It protects your land or landed property.
Land Document Verification
The degree at which you can claim ownership rights to a property is dependent on how certain you are about the authenticity of the property.
All matters concerning change in title or possession of land can be verified and recorded with the government.
How to verify the genuineness of land in Nigeria
1. Confirm the land excision: You must do a proper check to be sure the land has been legally released to the person who claims its ownership by the government gazette. Also, it helps you to be sure that this land is no longer under government acquisition.
2. Get a trusted surveyor: Don’t just rely on what the vendor’s surveyor tells you. Get a trusted surveyor who will make sure the coordinates picked on the survey plan matches the coordinates picked on the land.
3. Confirm the C of O: If the land already has a C of O, It is advisable that you take the C of O number to a land registry to confirm if it’s in their database.
4. Governor’s consent: lands with governor’s consent are always very expensive. You can imagine how tragic it would be to later realize you have been scammed. In order to avoid falling into the hands of fraudulent salers, here are three important people you must involved before buying any land in Nigeria
i. An analyst
ii. A lawyer
iii. A surveyor
However, credibility is key In choosing the lawyer, surveyor or a real estate analyst that will work with you.
You can also check the authenticity of the documents used to process the title.
1. The CTC (Certified True Copy of root title)
2. Instruments of transfer
3. Land photographs with date
4. Letter of authority by applicants.
Purchasing a land in Nigeria is a very delicate process that requires the involvement of experts like a lawyer who will ensure that your interest as the vendor or purchaser of the land is secured and that all transactions made are legitimate.
See also: CAC Registration in Nigeria
Written by –
Faith Adesiyan is a phenomenal writer with over 3 years writing experience. She has written quite a number of poems, articles, and short write-ups. Her areas of specialized expertise include; spoken word, articles, and academic writing.
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