The land use act is one of the most important laws that every land owner and real estate investor should know about especially in fast-developing cities like Lagos. In Nigeria, the land use act clearly gives the right to every person to acquire and own property anywhere in the country. However, that right is not absolute as it is subject to certain conditions like Eminent Domain (Compulsory acquisition of land by the government for public interest). 

 According to section 1 (one) of the land use act, “all lands comprised in the territory of each state in the Federation are vested in the Governor of that State and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerian in accordance with the provisions of the Act”

 Therefore, according to this act in section 9, to acquire land and enjoy the right of ownership you will need a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issued by the governor of the state. Again the act also stipulates in sections 28 and 29 that the government also has the right to revoke the certificate of occupancy when it concerns public interest and promptly pay compensation to the bearer of the C of O. What this clearly means is that whereby the bearer or holder of that land does not have any C of ,O such persons do not have full legal claim or right to that piece of land and therefore will not be entitled or be able to claim any compensation from the government in the event of eminent domain as contained in section 29 of the land use act which states that in the event of compulsory acquisition of land “the holder and the occupier shall be entitled to compensation for the value at the date of revocation of their unexhausted improvements”. 

Another reason you should get a C of O is that it clearly states what that land is to be used for; be it residential, commercial, or mixed-use. Whereby the land is being used for something else without approval from the concerned authorities you might have your land revoked by the government.

However, a certificate of occupancy according to the land use act can only be issued once on a property by the government, so whereby a real estate investor or an individual needs to purchase a piece of land from a private individual other than the governor and wants to have the full legal right to that property, then he will need property title. This can only be gotten through a deed of assignment which must be registered with the government upon the issuance of the Governor’s Consent. For it is unlawful for the bearer of C of O to transfer the right of ownership to another individual without the consent of the governor of that state (section 22 of the land use act)

Another important thing to note as a real estate investor when you need to secure the ownership of that property through legal means, you need a SURVEY PLAN to proceed which can only be gotten from a registered surveyor. This is one of the major reasons we keep saying that the essence of a survey can never be over-emphasized. 

Contact OTIC Surveys today for your survey.

To know more about the certificate of occupancy, the deed of assignment and the governor’s consent, follow us on our website for more articles on this.