Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Otubu on Lagos State Land Use Act

Akintunde-otubuAkintunde Otubu (University of Lagos) has posted Lagos State Land Use Act (Title Documentation) Regulation 2012 (Nigerian Bar Journal) on SSRN.  Here's the abstract:

The law regulating use and management of land in Nigeria was changed to the Land Use Act in 1978 consequent upon which the Right of Occupancy became the only permissible and recognized land right existing in the country; evidenced vide the issuance of Certificate of Occupancy by the Governor. Although the Land Use Act recognized the continued existence of prior land rights and epitome of title, their continued existence are subject to the provisions of the Land Use Act. This recognition has led to the growth of parallel land titles competing for relevance and recognition with the Certificate of Occupancy provided for under the Act.

It is trite that the Land Use Act recognized only the grant of right of occupancy and the issuance of certificate of occupancy thereof as the highest proprietary interest available over land in Nigeria and subjects all subsequent transactions on land to the prior consent of the Governor. However, the urge to circumvent the consent provisions of the Act and the bottlenecks from processing the needed grant, made applicants to device surreptitious means backdating their subsequent transactions as if it predates the promulgation of the Act. This led to giving false information and document in order to get the requisite State approval and recognition of land holding. The fraudulent practice continued from the inception of the Land Use Act to date, with dire consequences on the psyche of public officers, the ethic of the civil service, the land market, security of title and tenure and the generality of the land dealing members of the public. The practice breeds corruption, fraud, deceit and forgery in public life; and promotes self service and distrust in governance. The Lagos State government has come out with a new regulation to address the problem vides the Land Use Act (Title Documentation) Regulation 2012. This paper examines the provisions of the new regulation and opines that though the regulation seems to address the problem in the short run, it is not yet uhuru.

Steve Clowney

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