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The land laws and policies in Nigeria follow a set of rules carefully detailed in the Land Use Act of 1978 as amended in 1990. According to the Land Use Act of the Laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1990, this act vested all Land compromised in the territory of each State (except land vested in the Federal government or its agencies) solely in the Governor of the State , who would hold such Land in trust for the people and would henceforth be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individuals resident in the State and to organizations for residential, agriculture, commercial and other purposes while similar powers will with respect to non-urban areas are conferred on Local Governments (27th March 1978) Commencement.
Now, Subject to the provisions of this Act, all land comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation are hereby 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 Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of the Land law.
Now we’ll look at the various issues pertaining to this law, as it would help the reader understand how land ownership in Nigeria works.
As from the commencement of this Act –
(a) all land in urban areas shall be under the control and management of the Governor of each State. And
(b) all other land shall, subject to this Act, be under the control and management of the Local Government, within the area of jurisdiction of which the land is situated.
(2) There shall be established in each State a body to be known as "the Land Use and Allocation Committee" which shall have responsibility for: -
(a) advising the Governor on any matter connected with the management of land to which paragraph (a) of subsection (1) above relates;
(b) Advising 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 under this Act; and
(c) determining disputes as to the amount of compensation payable under this Act for improvements on land.
(3) The Land Use and Allocation Committee shall consist of such number of persons as the Governor may determine and shall include in its membership: -
(a) not less than two persons possessing qualifications approved for appointment to the public service as estate surveyors or land officers’ ad who have had such qualification for not less than five years; and
(b) a legal practitioner
(4) The Land Use and Allocation Committee shall be presided over by such one of its members as may be designated by the Governor and, subject to such directions as may be given in the regard by the Governor, shall have power to regulate its proceedings.
(5) There shall also be established for each Local Government a body to be known as "the Land Allocation Advisory Committee" which shall consist of such persons as may be determined by the Governor acting after consultation with the Local Government and shall have responsibility for advising the Local Government on any matter connected with the management of land to which paragraph (b) of subsection (1) above relates.
- Subject to such general conditions as may be specified in that behalf by the National Council of States, the Governor may for the purposes of this Act by order published in the State Gazette designate the parts of the area of the territory of the State constituting land in an urban area.
- Until other provisions are made in that behalf and, subject to the provisions of this Act, land under the control and management of the Governor under this Act shall be administered -
(a) in the case of any State where the Land Tenure Law of the former Northern Nigeria applies; in accordance with the provisions of that law; and
(b) in every other case, in accordance with the provisions of the State Land Law applicable in respect of State Land in the State, and the provisions of the Land Tenure Law or the State Land Law, as the case may be, shall have effect with such modification as would bring those laws into conformity with this Act or its general intendment.
In this article, we have tried as much as possible to provide the reader with necessary information on the rules guiding land laws/ownership and use in Nigeria. In subsequent articles we will discuss issues on how to purchase, own and possess land in Nigeria, be it in remote areas, villages or urban area. Keep visiting Lawsandloans.com – we keep you updated!