FARMLAND ACQUISITION/ PROPERTY RIGHT/ LAND USE LAW

Recently, I was privileged to be in a local community for a farm consultation job and I was invited to come and see something by one of the old men around and when I got there they said they wanted to give me the land for a token price of one acre for over one hundred and fifty thousand naira and I asked who is the owner of the land, they replied that they own it and it was shared to them as their own right, I marveled in silence and it caused a spark for me and made me ask some certain questions about the right we have on land in Nigeria, what do we need to do to acquire certain property in Nigeria. What do farmers need to know about basic land law? What are the property right we need to acquire as local farmers? How do we intend retaining the right held on each farm land firmly? If a land is on lease what are the right a farmer have on it?

 Land law is the form of law that deals with the rights to use, alienate, or exclude others from land. In many jurisdictions, these kinds of property are referred to as real estate or real property, as distinct from personal property. Land use agreements, including renting, are an important intersection of property and contract law. Encumbrance on the land rights of one, such as an easement, may constitute the land rights of another. Some rights like Mineral rights and water rights are closely linked, and often interrelated concepts with mostly same features.

The promulgation of the Land Use Decree (later the Land Use Act1 (the “Act”) in 1978, brought about the vesting of exclusive powers over land comprised in the territory of any given State in the Governor of the State. The effect was that radical ownership of land was vested in the Governor, private persons were only entitled to a leasehold interest through a right of occupancy. The Act further requires that the consent of the Governor, has to be obtained prior to any method of alienation of property by the holder of a right of occupancy. The effect of this was that any assignment of interests or mortgages required the consent of the Governor to be legally enforceable. The Land Use (Amendment) Bill), is currently being deliberated upon by the National Assembly till date. The Bill seeks to review the exclusive powers of the Governor in relation to the alienation of possession with property.

LAWS TO LOOK OUT FOR

Some out of the majority of the land use act in 1978 will be discussed. The land use act 1978Subject to the provisions of this Act, all land comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation is 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 this Act, there all land in a state belongs to the governor and it will be used for the benefit of the country accordingly. To every farmland you acquire it belongs to the governor of the state and not to any family linkages. There are a lot of laws to put in mind so as to be on a safer side as the buyer.

Control and management of land: There is always an advisory bodies as from the commencement of this Act of 1978;all land in urban areas shall be under the control and management of the Governor of each State andall 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.

It shall not be lawful for the Governor to grant a statutory right of occupancy or consent to the assignment or subletting of a statutory right of occupancy to a person under the age of 21 years:

Only if a guardian or trustee of a person under the age of 21 years has been duly appointed for such purpose, the Governor may grant or consent to the assignment or subletting of a statutory right of occupancy to such guardian or trustee on behalf of such person under age or a person under the age of 21 years upon whom a statutory right of occupancy devolves on the death of the holder, shall have the same liabilities and obligations under and in respect of his right of occupancy as if he were of full age, notwithstanding the fact that no guardian or trustee has been appointed for him.

HOW DO I ACQUIRE A FARMLAND?

  • Gather information’s: It is important to gather information and do away with any form ignorance when it comes to farmland acquisition in Nigeria, almost all land owners in Nigeria especially for farmland are family inheritance acquisition and to acquire this land questions are meant to be asked an answers are meant to be heavily provided with necessary fact and figures, leave no stone unturned, go to neighboring villages closer to where you want to acquire the farmland and ask questions, jot them down and connect the dot, engage your gadget in dealing with land owners, snap their pictures record their videos as they are making promises, record their voices without making it known to them, be meticulous in dealing with gathered information. Make sure the land you are buying is not going to be in the use of either the state or federal usage in years to come. Check for the land even in local government areas.
  • Visit the location: Do not allow friends to visit the proposed land for you, visit the site yourself, it is important the owner of the land is available to see the boundaries of the land, see the location physically don’t demand for videos from the farmland owners, don’t demand for pictures, go and see the land physically and if you can’t be available, see to a close family to check out the farmland for your use
  • Leave no stone untouched: Farmland in Nigeria are always sold by families because majorly lands here especially in south west Nigeria are never distributed by government, families inherit land from families and almost all land have one or more conflict either within the families or communities, leave no stone unturned, Visit all families, note all the mentioned names during communication between you as the buyer and the representative of the family as the seller, ask around the community and check for this names, this is where you will know if there is any problem on the land or any conflict within the family. This is very useful for future purposes.  
  • Engage a lawyer: Immediately you have confirmed your fact and figure, prepare document, sign all the important document in the presence of a well recorded video, make sure a sound lawyer is informed and involved in all the transactions details so as to be on a safer side.
  •  Get the certificate of occupancy: When I say this I mean get all the certificate needed from the government that can show prove of ownership apart from what is signed and seal from the family of the land owner.
  • Boundaries: Make sure there is a boundary or a signboard that can get people aware of the ownership of the land, create a healthy boundary and enjoy the rest of the farmland usage for life.

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