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How To Do a Proper Land And Property Search In Nigeria

In this piece, we will be discussing the act of Land and Property search; it’s importance and the processes involved.

According to the 1978 Land use act of the Federal republic of Nigeria, land in all parts of the country is owned by the Government. As stated in section one of the land use act:

“Subject to the provisions of this Act, all lands comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation are vested in the Governor of the state and all such lands shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provision of the Act.” 

Using Lagos State as a reference point, Land in the state can be categorized into 4 categorie

  • Committed Land or Government Acquisition
  • Acquired land; basically used for Agricultural purposes
  • Excision
  • freehold land

So basically, anyone that is buying land must ensure that such land doesn’t fall within Government Acquisition; which is commited or acquired land

For instance, Land in Agbowa is acquired by the government, maybe for agricultural purpose but necessarily committed. A prospective land owner can approach the office of the Surveyor-General by putting in an application with the help of a surveyor. The Surveyor puts in an application for consent to survey. Afterwards there is a code that is given which automatically becomes the consent number of that survey plan.

Ordinarily, any land that falls within Government acquisition is a no go area!

In actual sense, the act of doing land search is to know where the land falls within the 4 specified categories, if it falls within committed acquisition then you have to take a walk.

Albeit, if the land falls within acquired land you can approach a surveyor and he will help you get consent to survey and he may just help you get it out. Also if a land is freehold then it’s free

Excised land is also free. However in excision, the land may be excised to a family, group of individuals or estate developer. It therefore means that you get your title from the persons or group of persons you did business with as stated as stated.

Most importantly, the surveyor has to go to the site to pick the coordinates to find out if the land is committed or not, or if it is acquired or not.

If you want to buy a land and the survey plan has been made available already where the coordinates are mentioned, you may as well want to do the search without employing the services of a surveyor, but it’s not to easy. Usually what happens when you employ a surveyor is that he goes to the Surveyor-General’s office, after he must have done what is known as CHARTING. This charting information will tell you the status of the land.

Subsequently, he applies to the office of the Surveyor-General to get the record; that is information about that land to know actually if the survey is. This is to ascertain if the land is truly what it is

Every surveyor after conducting a survey for you must submit a record copy what is usually termed the red copy which is sent to the office of the Surveyor-General for keeps.

Albeit, the danger there is that, some survey were erroneously wrong. So even if you give a surveyor the survey plan he will still have to go to the site to pick the coordinates, so he can compare what he’s picking on site to what is on paper.

Invariably, the best way to go about property search is by going with a surveyor and pick the coordinates on the particular land you are shown or you believe you want to buy so that you can compare that land with the paper you may be given. This is to determine if it matches, then afterwards you can continue your search from there. However if it doesn’t match then it is the coordinates that you picked on site that you will work with to conduct your search.

There was an instance where a client of a close friend of mine who had lived on his property for about two years was suddenly served a letter from court that the land belonged to someone else. When they released their C-of-O for a search to be conducted it was discovered at the end of the search that the survey on the C-of-O was different from the survey of the disputed land and as a result the case was withdrawn from court

Conducting land and property search is now been digitized. With the introduction of Geographic Information Systems, (GIS) you can now easily conduct a property search and get the necessary and accurate information on a land you are interested in.

I will encourage you all to conduct your land or property search to avoid stories that touch. Bookmark this page to read the second part of this piece next week.

Debo Adejana
MD/CEO Realty Point Ltd

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