Becoming a land owner comes with a kind of ecstasy that buyers sometimes trivialize documents that backed up the selling and buying process. Just like securing a new phone or Automobile, a land buyer, or let’s say, ‘a new land owner’ is likely going to be carried away with the joy of owning a valuable asset that he / she forgets the legal implications involved land or property purchase.
As important as these documents are, it’s quite a pity that very few land buyers know and understand the purposes these documents serve.
There have been instances where people buy land and only requested for the C of O without asking for a Deed of Assignment, Governor’s consent etc, actions which later boomerang.
However, to save prospective land buyers from future regrets and heartaches, we have decided to analyse seven (7) crucial land documents you must request for before purchasing lands.
These documents are:
1. Survey Plan
This is a land document which shows the boundary measurements of a parcel of land to give an accurate measurement and description of that land. A Survey Plan is a very important land document one must ask for while buying a land. In fact, it is one of the most important documents, because it is with this document that one will be able to do a search to know if the land one is planning to buy is free from government acquisition or not.
Excision is a process whereby the government releases a portion of an expanse of land that is not committed. If a parcel of land that was formerly under acquisition becomes excised; it is then considered free and eventually becomes gazetted.
The proclamation of the Land Use Decree (now Act) was made on the 28th of March, 1978 and this vested all lands in every state of the Federation under the control of the State Governors. The Land Use Act, coupled with other laws made it possible for the Governor who is now the owner of all lands in the state to actually have the power to acquire more lands compulsorily for its own public purpose to provide amenities for the greater good of the citizens.
An excision thereby means, taking a part of land from a whole and freeing it up from government’s acquisition. 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 that the land could be seized by the Government anytime with no compensation.
3 · Gazette
According to the Land Use Act, ‘’all land belongs to the government’’, so the Governor is the owner of all lands, and he alone will determine what to do with the land. So, it is only when the Governor has taken the land he want to use that he will give the remaining to the traditional family to do whatever they want to do with it.
A Gazette is an official record book where all special government details are pointed out, detailed and recorded. A Gazette will show the communities or villages that have been granted excision and the number of acres or hectares of land that the government has given to them.
A Gazette is a very powerful instrument the community owns and can replace a Certificate of Occupancy to grant title to the Villagers.
4· Certificate of Occupancy
A Certificate of Occupancy, which is popularly known as C of O is a Land Document, issued by the State Government to officially leases any land under the state to you (the applicant), for 99 yrs.
A C of O, however, is the officially recognized Land Document for demonstrating Right to a Land. What then happens after 99 years? That question is still a subject of debate among experts.
5. Deeds of Assignment
The Deed of Assignment is actually the only Land document that shows that you (buyer) are now the new owner of the land. A Deed of Assignment is an agreement between the Seller of a Land or Property and the buyer; showing evidence that the Seller has transferred all his rights, his title, his interest and ownership of the land to the buyer.
6· Governor’s consent
Just like it sounds, a Governor’s Consent is a land document that is obtained whenever a buyer purchase a land with C of O. It is the land document that lets the Governor and the general public know that the land in question has changed hands (ownership).
According to Section 22 of the Land use act of 1978 as amended, this states thus:
“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, mortgage, transfer of possession, sublease or otherwise howsoever without the consent of the Governor .”
One of the merits of having a Governor’s consent is that, buyer can transfer the land to another person without going to the Omoniles or Family Baales.
This land document is the list of all, and is just for the seller to acknowledge that he/she has received the due money he/she wants to sell the land.
As simple as this document may sound or appear, it is still very important for future purposes. The mistake most people make is to think that, Receipt is the same thing with A Deed of Assignment.
A knowledge and use of the above seven (7) mentioned documents while selling and buying lands will definitely amount to money well spent, as they will ward-off land ownership dispute in the future.
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