Imagine buying a piece of land in Lagos. And shortly after buying it, a random person comes to the land, then starts preparing it for home construction.
You would probably laugh and ask them what they think they’re doing.
You’d probably ask them if they realize you own the land. You know you have bought it, so according to the laws of the country, you get to decide what happens to the land.
Now you see all these laws and other things that help decide and enforce who has certain rights to some piece of land, is what we call land tenure system. The example we gave above, only covers a subset of the land tenure system, but if you’d like to learn about it, in great details, then you should finish up this writeup.
Just like many other countries of the world, Nigeria has its own land tenure systems. In Nigeria, there are a number of ways to gain certain rights to some piece of land. And these ways of gaining these rights, are what we’d be discussing next. You should also note that the ways of gaining rights to pieces of land are what’s also known as the types of land tenure systems.
1. Land Purchase/Freehold
This is arguably one of the most popular ways of gaining rights to a piece of land in Nigeria. This act is practised across all states of the country, making it possible to own land in every part of Nigeria.
You should, however,
be aware of the fact that not all lands can be bought.
For instance, there are legal restrictions against buying some lands in Nigeria. Even if you pay someone for these kinds of land, it doesn’t make you the owner of such land.
In short, land purchase is one of the ways anyone can acquire some land in the country. And the acquisition of land is not restricted to only Nigerians. Whether you’re Nigerian or not, it’s possible to acquire a piece of land in this country. But of course, foreigners would need a visa to be in this country.
Inheritance is another way people gain rights to pieces of lands.
When people die, their properties are often distributed to families and friends.
And there are lots of people who gain rights to pieces of land, by inheritance. However, it’s illegal to coerce people to will their land to you. And if found guilty of such, it’s not impossible to lose your rights to the land inherited.
Furthermore, when you inherit a piece of land,
it is possible for you to in-turn sell it to some other people. But before selling a piece of inherited land, be sure you are allowed to sell the land. Otherwise, the sale of the land may be legally nullified.
Some of you may not realize this,
it’s actually possible to rent a piece of land.
Structures are not the only things that get rented, pieces of land also get rented. And this practice is quite popular among farmers and businesses. Farmers would often rent pieces of land, to use for the cultivation of crops. And after using the land, the rented rights get transferred back to the owner.
As for businesses, you’d often see them rent pieces of land where they can erect shops.
You should, however, note that renting a land doesn’t necessarily mean you can further rent out the land to someone else. The things you’d be allowed to do with the land, would likely be limited to what you and the owner explicitly agree upon. And likewise, a landowner is not allowed to claim back their piece of land, pending the time your rent expires.
However, if both of you agreed that the land could be reclaimed under certain conditions, then the owner of the land may be able to reclaim their land, pending the time your rent expires.
It is very important to note that rent is different from lease.
But the major difference between these two has to do with their duration. Rent is a thing that lasts for a short period. And as for leases, they last longer than rents. In other words, rents would often last between a few months and a few years, while leases would often last for a good number of years.
There are some other little differences, but the duration is the major one, as we have stated.
Leasing of pieces of land is a thing that could be done by both Nigerians and foreigners. So if you’re a non-Nigerian, feel free to make attempt to lease some land.
Another legal way of gaining rights to pieces of land is by having them gifted to you.
you’d see people gift land to other people. It might be a father gifting land to his child, or a king gifting a piece of land to someone, or even the government gifting some pieces of land to people.
When you get gifted a piece of land, you’d often get full rights to the land.
In other words, you might be able to further sell whatever land you have been gifted. And once a person has gifted a piece of land to someone, the person who gifted the land is very unlikely to be able to reclaim ownership to the piece of land. However, coercing someone to gift you their land may result in having the land legally collected from you.
6 Community Allocation
In the olden days, communities would often have larges pieces of lands.
And it isn’t uncommon to see these communities allocate pieces of lands to its community members. And these community members are allowed to use the pieces of land for the cultivation of crops, for themselves.
However, rights given under this condition,
do not include those which allow the land to be sold. In other words, the community members may only use these pieces of land for the cultivation of crops, not sell them.
And even though you probably wouldn’t often see this kind of thing happening these days, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen anymore. It actually still happens, but it isn’t as common as it used to be in the past. And very often, the head of the community is the person who decides who and who not to allocate some piece of land.
7 Government Allocation
This method of gaining rights to a piece of land is also known as “Tenant at government will”.
This method is very similar to community allocation. But unlike community allocation where pieces of land get allocated by communities, in this method, government allocation is carried out by governments. It might be a state government or the federal government.
This method of gaining certain rights to a piece of land, is pretty common in Nigeria. It’s very common among farmers and governments. Governments would often allocate pieces of lands to farmers, in hope of helping the farmers make some money for themselves.
It’s however important to note that when the government allocates a piece of land to you, it doesn’t mean you have the right to sell it. Making an attempt to sell such a land, is a serious crime.
Imagining a World Without a Land Tenure System
Land tenure system in Nigeria is a great thing, and there are advantages of land tenure system.
For instance, if we don’t have such a system in place, there would always be fights among people.
A farmer may cultivate crops on a piece of land, then have another farmer come to the land and clear these crops, with the other farmer having the intention of planting new crops on the land. But thanks to the land tenure system, things aren’t this way.
But despite how useful land tenure system is, it’s got some problems.
And here are some problems with the Nigerian land tenure system:
- People at times buy lands not owned by sellers:It’s not uncommon to see people buy lands from people who don’t own them. If you are sold a piece of land not owned by the seller, you have no legal right to the land. But what you can do, is get your money back from the seller. But as we all know, prevention is better than cure. so when trying to buy a piece of land, buy from trusted entities.
- Sellers at times resell sold lands: It’s not uncommon to come across situations where a seller resells a piece of land they have sold to you. If you find yourself in this situation and have all your legal documents, you have nothing to worry about. You only have to take the issue to a law court.
If you, however, happen to be the person who the land was resold to, you have no right to the land. But, you can ask the seller to refund your money. And if they refused, you can sue then.
Is there anything missing in this writeup? Or a few contributions you would love to make? Drop them in the comment below and be rest assured of me having the content updated.