Land is essential for every human activity on earth as it is the source of all material wealth. The Land Use Act No. 6 of 1978 (the “Act”) was promulgated into law with effect from 29th March, 1978 as the nation’s land policy document. Since then, it has remained the law regulating lands in Nigeria till date. The Act regulates the ownership, alienation, acquisition, administration and management of land within the Federal Republic of Nigeria. Section 1 of the Land Use Act vests all land comprised in the territory of each state in the Federation of Nigeria in the Governor of that state and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of the Act.
Section 5 (1) of the Act empowers the Governor of a state to grant statutory right of occupancy to any person for all purposes in respect of land, whether or not in an urban area and issue a certificate of occupancy in evidence of such right of occupancy in accordance with the provisions of Section 9(1) of the Act. In addition, Section 5(2) of the Act provides that “Upon the grant of a statutory right of occupancy under the provisions of sub – section (1) of this section, all existing rights to the use and occupation of the land which is the subject of the statutory right of occupancy shall be extinguished.” Accordingly, the statutory right of occupancy granted by a Governor is presently the highest right to land in Nigeria. This right of occupancy is a right, which allows the holder to use or occupy land to the exclusion of all other persons except the Governor and is granted for a maximum holding period of 99 years, subject to the payment of ground rent fixed by the Governor throughout the holding period.
Section 22 of the Act prohibits alienation, assignment of statutory rights of occupancy in Nigeria without the consent and approval of the Governor of the state. The Section states that:
“It shall not be lawful for the holder of a statutory Right of Occupancy granted by the Governor to alienate his Right of Occupancy or any part thereof by assignment, sublease etc. without the prior consent of the Governor”.
Obtaining Governor’s Consent
The Governor’s consent is usually required where the assignor prior to the alienation had a Certificate of Occupancy. In such instances, the Certificate of Occupancy having been issued in the name of an assignor would require the consent of the Governor of the State to validate the transfer. Such consent is usually obtained after the sale of the land.
Requirements for obtaining Governor’s consent
- Forwarding/Covering Letter (with date, address, telephone numbers and Email address);
- Chartable Survey Plan (4 Copies);
- Completed Form 1C;
- Certified True Copy (CTC) of Grantor’s title document;
- Duly Executed Deeds (4 copies) Spiral bound with Assignee’s signature on all pages);
- Picture of site with date and time showing adjoining properties;
- Location Sketch properly drawn;
- Charting and Endorsement/Form 1C Fee;
- Copy of Identification (the only acceptable means of identification is the National Identity Card);
- Evidence of Red Copy Lodgement.
A Letter of confirmation of payment of capital contribution from New Towns Development Authority (NTDA) [DO1] is required for property, which falls under Lekki Peninsula scheme 1 & 2, Abijo GRA, Isheri-North and affected government schemes.
Upon obtaining consent on the transaction, the Deed must be stamped within 30 days of the execution, failure to stamp will attracts penalty for late payment.
The timeline is usually between 12 weeks to 24 weeks.
Registration of the instrument of alienation
Pursuant to Section 2 of the Lagos State Land Registration Law 2015, every document of interest or title to land in Lagos State shall be registered in accordance with the provisions of the law. Such instrument is to be registered within 60 days of obtaining Governor’s consent.
In practice, a letter is addressed to the Registrar of Titles requesting registration of the instrument in favour of the assignee. Upon payment of 0.5% of the consideration of the transaction, the Registrar of Titles will register the instrument in favour of the holder.
It is important for purchasers to take steps to securing their interest in the property after purchase. The Supreme Court has reiterated in plethora of cases that the onus is on the plaintiff to show that he or his predecessor has a valid title. See AYEOLA V PEDRO (2014) 12 NWLR 1424, 409 – 447. Clearly, registration of title (whether obtaining Certificate of Occupancy or Governor’s consent) is a prima facie proof of valid title. However, this should not be mistaken that a Certificate of Occupancy as a root of title is unimpeachable.