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Registering Properties In Nigeria: A Case For Streamlining The Process

More importantly, a notice of revocation, (which signifies the Government’s intention to acquire property that is subject of a Right of Occupancy), must be issued and served personally on the holder of the right of occupancy, which said notice must be under the hand of a public officer who is duly authorized for that purpose by the Governor. The notice of revocation must also state in clear terms the reason for the revocation, which must be within the statutory permissible grounds for revocation. Any revocation for purposes other than the one prescribed, though ostensibly for purposes prescribed by the Act, would be declared void by a court of law.

Where a right of occupancy is revoked for overriding public interest, the holder of the revoked right is entitled to compensation as specified in Section 29 of the LUA. However, the compensation shall be for the value of the holder’s unexhausted improvements, at the date of revocation. Where there is any dispute as to the amount of compensation payable, it may be referred to either the Land Use and Allocation Committee, (which is a body established under Section 2(2) of the Land Use Act to, among other things, advise the Governor on any matter connected with the resettlement of persons affected by the revocation of rights of occupancy on the ground of overriding public interest); or the courts of law. In Kanada Vs. Governor of Kaduna State, Section 47 of the Land Use Act, which purports to oust the jurisdiction of courts to inquire into any question concerning the amount or adequacy of any compensation paid under the Act, was declared unconstitutional and void.

Restrictions on Transfer or Alienation of Land

By the provisions of sections 21 and 22 of the LUA, no transactions affecting land in Nigeria either by way of assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sublease or otherwise howsoever, shall be carried out without first obtaining the Consent of the Governor of the concerned State. Any transaction done, or any instrument which purports to confer on, or vest any interest or right over land in any person in contravention of these provisions; is null and void according to section 26 of the LUA.

However, in Awojugbagbe Light Ind. Ltd. Vs. P. N. Chinukwe & Anor [1995] 5 NWLR [Pt.390] 409, the Supreme Court held that a transaction concluded without obtaining the requisite Governor’s Consent is not void but merely “inchoate”.

Statutory requirements in the States

All States of the federation have their respective land registration laws, which, in addition to the LUA, govern the administration of real property transactions in the relevant State.

Perfection of title involves three main stages; to wit: (1) obtaining Governor’s Consent; (2) stamping the relevant transaction document; and (3) registration of the transaction document at the relevant Lands Registry.