Lands Titles in Nigeria and How They Affect Property Acquisition.

Before the Land Use Act enacted in 1978 properties were hitherto owned and controlled by communal authorities who had powers to assign or rent it out to whom they deemed.

By enactment of the decree, all lands (mostly in Urban areas) became owned and controlled by State government on behalf of the people

Below, we’ll be highlighting some different land titles available and how they affect ownership.


A property becomes a free hold where the government has indicated no interest in said property.

While a land is considered under government acquisition where government has an interest in the area for the purpose of urban development or industrialization projects.


A land under government acquisition can either be global acquisition or committed acquisition. A land with committed acquisition means the government has designated that parcel for a specific project as such those parcels of land can never be released to individuals or organizations for development projects.

Acquiring lands that are under committed acquisition will eventually lead to the loss of such investments when government moves to take full possession of such a parcel of land.

Whereas a land under global acquisition does not have a specific government purpose yet and as such those parcels of land can later be free or committed as the case maybe.

There are 2 main processes for making a land under global acquisition to be free.

1. Excision and
2. Ratification.  

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What is Excision of Land?


In land excision, state governments release land to indigenous peoples or settlers following legal protocols and processes. Since the Land Use Act was enacted, land excision has been used as a method for compensating the original landowners. A grantee who excisies a piece of land maintains ownership and control of the land within the confines of local laws and regulations.

To excise a land means to cut it. This is the process whereby the government releases a parcel of land back to the indigenous owners of such lands for the purpose of developments.

When this excised parcel of land is published in government’s official gazette, the land becomes Gazette as title.

Excision and Gazette are very good titles for a piece of land; such lands are safe to buy and develop, because a proper title can be processed on the land.

Example of Excision of Land


Real estate development companies X and real estate development company Y both have two plots of land to sell in the same location. 

However, Company X land is selling for 5 Million naira while Company Y price is 7.5 Million naira. Clients notice this, and because of the price difference, they rush to purchase Company X land. 

Two years later, Company X tells its clients that the state government has started the process of excising the land and they expect each person to pay 3 million naira to complete the process. Several complaints are being made. 

Clients of Company Y, however, are free to build on that land without any harm, having already had the land excised. You can read about land tenure system and how to access federal mortgage loans in Nigeria.

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Why Excised Land Can Be Expensive


The excision process is very time-consuming and costly. Then, when a landowner and seller go through that process, he would determine the cost of a piece of land by adding up all the expenses incurred.

Furthermore, Nigerian law gives state governors control of its lands. Historically, however, Nigerian lands were administered by communities and traditional families before the Land Use Act of 1978. Since the Land Use Act went into effect, land has become under the exclusive jurisdiction of state governors, who may also give former landowners with documented ownership rights access to their properties. You can also learn more about How to Invest in Real Estate and Land survey


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How To Process Excision


To get excision on the property can be a good thing but is tedious and comes with rigorous processes. They include:


  1. Excision application at your state land-use allocation committee. Each state has its own committee. Here you state the reason for Excision, population, and other required information.
  2. Further processing by any other committee set up in your state like the technical committee, etc.
  3. Submission of perimeter survey to the surveyor-general and review of charting information
  4. The technical committee conducts a site inspection on the land, making sure that everything is in correspondence with what is on the excision application letter.
  5. The technical committee makes sure that the master plan complies with the land plan use.
  6. The technical committee compiling a report to your state land-use allocation committee based on their findings on the land.
  7. Your state land-use allocation committee reviews the material sent in by the technical committee and then compiles final reports and sends them to your state governor showing approval or rejection
  8. Upon approval and receipt by the state governor, the surveyor-general is contacted and a survey is done on the land
  9. A layout design plan is drawn on the land by local planners, families, and people involved and is sent to the state ministry of physical planning and economic development
  10. Then proceed for indemnity agreement Excision where the guarantees agree with the government to take the land incomplete. They also make an unconditional settlements to the previous claims of the land before the agreement.
  11. Publishing the excision in your state official gazette by the technical committee
  12. Publication in any official commonly circulated newspaper
  13. Issuance of certificate of occupancy to the guarantees within 30days after publication in the newspaper
  14. The State’s land bureau office receives final documents, excision reports, and administrative files. The Registrar of Lands would then enter officially into the archives’ excisions, surveys, maps, names, and gazettes in the Excised Lands Agency.

Things You Need To Know About Excised Land in Nigeria


The various things you need to know about Excised lands are:

  1. It is expensive to purchase
  2. Gives you full control of the land within the confinement of state and local rules.
  3. Has gone through lawfully approved processes.
  4. Eliminates any future fear of losing the land
  5. Reduces complaints and commotion by giving the owner peace of mind
  6. Has no long term challenges.

What is Land Rectification


Land Regularization (also known as Ratification) is carried out when an individual or corporate entity acquires land that belongs to the government. However, not all government lands can be regularized. Any land that will be regularized must not fall within a government committed area and it must confirm to the state’s urban planning regulations.

Regularization entails buying the land “properly” from the government. It is an expensive process because after buying the land from the “omonile” (seller) you still have to pay the government for the land again.

After regularization, the government releases the land and issues a certificate of occupancy (C of O) to the applicant.

In order to avoid buying government land and spending far more money than necessary it is highly recommended that the status of the land is known before purchase. The process of knowing the status of a land is called Charting. Charting is a very important process in land matters and it is carried out by Registered Land Surveyors.


Other Land Titles Include




This is the most popular land title most people are familiar with. It’s a very good title. Lands with Certificate of Occupancy are extremely safe to invest in. 

A Certificate of Occupancy is usually issued by the State Government and it connotes that the state government has officially leased the piece of land to the applicant, for 99 years.


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When a land with Certificate of Occupancy is sold to another person it is required that such a person must now obtain the Consent of the Governor before that transaction can be deemed legal in the eyes of the Government. As the name sounds, a governor’s consent means the governor consented to the transaction or transfer of ownership of the land with certificate of Occupancy from one person to the other.

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A Deed of Assignment is an agreement between the owner and seller of the property and the buyer of the property showing that the seller has transferred all his rights, title interest and ownership to the buyer.

Upon the exchange of the deed of assignment, and the registration of the document at the land registry, the land or property becomes completely and legally owned by the buyer.

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