LEGALITY IN LAND OWNERSHIP
In the Property and Conveyance Law of the Western Region (1959), Land is defined as, “land of any tenure, buildings or parts of buildings (whether the division is horizontal, vertical or made in any other way) and other corporeal hereditaments, also a rent and other incorporeal hereditaments and an easement, right, privilege, or benefit in, over, or derived from land; but not an undivided share in land.”
This puts it to us that land is not just the earth surface, or even tangible properties built on it, it also has to do with rights attached to the land such as the right of easement, the sustenance of a charge on land to secure a debt, which is popularly referred to as Mortgage, or even the right to take something from a neighbor’s land, such as fish.
Thus, it is crystal clear that defining Land according to well-established Nigerian laws covers for both the tangible property and the rights enjoyed as attached to Land.
There are different ways of acquiring land ownership in the Nigerian context, which will include
1. TRADITIONAL EVIDENCE –
The Nigerian law duly recognizes traditional land ownership. This infers that Individuals or people who have founded a settlement or land or were the original settlers on such land are deemed to be the owners of the Land.
Traditional land ownership is legal and requires no documents proving ownership.
2. BY ACTS OF OWNERSHIP EXTENDING OVER A SUFFICIENT LENGTH OF TIME WHICH ACTS ARE NUMEROUS AND POSITIVE ENOUGH TO WARRANT THE INFERENCE THAT THEY ARE OWNERS.
The Nigerian law also recognizes the legal ownership of people who can reasonably claim that they and their progenitors have owned and lived on the land for years without being challenged.
3. BY ACTS OF LONG POSSESSION AND ENJOYMENT OF THE LAND IN DISPUTE.
Likewise, land owners can be granted legal ownership of a land if they can show that those in contention for the land have failed to take legal process to take back the ownership of the land from them over an extended period of time.
4. BY THE Providing DOCUMENTS OF TITLE:
This entails all forms of land documentation including the certificate of occupancy, Land certificate, deed of mortgage e.t.c. It is necessary that all documents of title must be premised and authenticated upon the earlier mentioned roots of title. A certificate of occupancy procured through fraud or misrepresentation will be deemed to have no legal effect whatsoever. It is expedient that prospective land buyers and real-estate investors should carry out due and necessary investigation to ensure that the root of title of such documents of title is certified and founded on other evidences of title ownership before they can be trusted.
5. BY PROOF OF POSSESSION OF CONNECTED OR ADJACENT LAND IN CIRCUMSTANCES RENDERING IT PROBABLE THAT THE OWNERS OF SUCH CONNECTED OR ADJACENT LAND WOULD IN ADDITION BE THE OWNERS OF THE LAND IN DISPUTE.
This would come in when there is a dispute that certain large expanse of land belongs to certain individuals or group of Individuals.. Such persons would also be deemed to be owners of smaller surrounding parcels of land if there is no other evidence to the contrary. It is therefore very important that all investors and dealers of real estate in Nigeria should arm themselves with this piece of information in order to protect their investment
Nedcomoaks real estate company, resident in the heart of Lekki, Lagos for example has been known to provide proper documentation for their clients over-time with quality assured and legality uncompromised.
They have properties for sale in areas like Ajiran, Ikoyi, Oral estate, Lafiaji, Ikate Elegushi and Chevron and most importantly, they take it upon themselves to make sure their clients have no troubles with documentation as all processes requiring documentations are properly and effectively handled.