The Nigerian Land Tenure and Land Classification System

land law

Land tenure is simply a system that controls the ownership and management of land resources in a territory. Under the Nigerian Act of 1978 Decree by the Federal Government of Nigeria all land resources comprised in the territory of a state (except land vested in the Federal government or its agencies) are vested 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 organisations 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.

Land Lease

In this instance, the State is now a lessor who grants a lease on an expanse of land to a lessee in consideration of a rent sum (which may be monetary or in kind) for a definite term. Thus, for there to be a valid lease, the commencement date and that of the expiration date must be certain. Lease agreement gives exclusive possession to the lessee, who is in possession of the property, commonly referred to as the tenant.

From the foregoing, it is important to note that for there to be a valid lease, there must be:

  • Parties
  • The proper description of the property
  • A clear agreement
  • Words of demise
  • The rent payable (not always, could be free)
  • Duration
  • Date of commencement.

A lease is granted for a period of 99 years.

Land Classification

Classified or Acquire Land

Under the Nigerian land system, land can be classified as either free or acquired. Land is considered free if the government has not indicated any interest whatsoever in that land. Such land is safe to buy because the title on the land be perfected without issues. In most cases, such lands will either have a gazette, a certificate of occupancy C of O or a governor’s consent.

General Acquisition

Lands that are under “general acquisition or global acquisition” can later be confirmed ‘free’ or ‘uncommitted’. A land under general acquisition can become free by a process called Excision. “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 become gazette. The gazette then becomes the title on the land and such land is safe to buy because a proper title can be processed on the land.


Nigerian Legal Law
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