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WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT LAND DOCUMENTATION IN NIGERIA (PART 1)

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.

A lot of people think that the C of O is the only Land Document they must have or ask for before they buy any land, of which this is very wrong. Apart from the C of O, there are other vital land documents you must ask for before you buy any land.

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.

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. 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).

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. A C of O however is the officially recognised Land Document for demonstrating Right to a Land. What happens after 99 years? That question is still a subject of debate among experts.

Most have adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Others postulate that as the new owner of the land, you the buyer can renew the certificate of occupancy when it expires. That makes sense, but for now it’s largely a case of “We shall see when we get there”.

To be continued in PART 2

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