Land grabbing is the illegal possession of land by someone who is not the lawful owner of the Land without the consent of the legal owner. The problem of land grabbing is a common challenge faced by landowners. The Illegal possession of land violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In 2016, the spike in the persistent activities of land grabbers forced the Lagos State Government to set up the Lagos State Taskforce On land Grabbers under the Lagos State Ministry of Justice.
The law prohibits the use of force to compel people to give up their land Land grabbing is the most morally and legally dubious method of acquiring property.
Major Causes Of land Grabbing And Illegal Land Possession
Understanding some of the causes of land disputes is very important in understanding ways you can adopt to protect your landed property from illegal possession or trespassers.
The major cause of land grabbing and illegal possession of land is the nature of land ownership. Lands in Nigeria are owned by families rather than individuals. Until it is partitioned an individual can not assume ownership.
Buying property from sellers that are not in the right position to sell is another cause. Buying from the wrong person that lacks the right authority to sell is the most common challenge faced when buying land.
Lack of properly executed title documents from your sellers. The lack of signatory from the head of the family and other principled members of the family. If the document is signed only by the head of the family then it is voidable if it is contested.
Documents Needed To Secure Your Landed Properties
Land Purchase Receipt: This a document that shows an owner has made payment for taking possession of a landed property. This is usually issued to the seller. It contains the name and address of the buyer and seller, family title or name on the receipt, signature of buyer and seller, date of payment, the amount paid, description of land etc.
Certificate Of Occupancy ( C of O): C of O – certificate of occupancy is a document of ownership usually issued the state government of any of the thirty-six states that proves that a person owns the land. It is the most important document for landowners.
The process of acquiring this certificate is based on how the property is being bought. Land gotten directly from the state comes with a C of O. You may also apply for a change of title if the seller has the c of o. The application should be sent to the Land use and Allocation section, in Alausa, Lagos. All states have a department responsible for this in Nigeria
Deed Of Lease: This document outlines an agreement between two parties to give out a property to another party for use for a period of times not exceeding 99 years according to Nigeria Law.
Deed Of Assignment/Conveyance: This document shows the change of ownership between a buyer and seller and property
Land Certificate: A land certificate is a document issued by the government to an owner of the property as proof of registration of a piece of property
Letter of administration: Letter of administration refers to a document given to a person to take charge of the administration of a property following the death of the owner usually without a will
Survey Plan: This gives a description of the measurement of a piece of land
Other documents include: Deed Of Mortgage, Deed Of Sub-Lease, Judgement of court, Contract of sale etc
Omonile and Ajagunbale Role in Dispossession Of Land
These are the two common terms that are associated with the illegal possession or trespass of land in the South Western part of Nigeria.
Ajagunbale refers to a person that uses force to collect land This is especially common in Lagos, Nigeria. Ajegunbale collects money from one person to help protect the land against another person. Omo onile later metamorphosed into Ajagunbale
Omo Onile in the Yoruba language means the native owners of landed properties in the Southwestern part of Nigeria. However, in recent times the term is now synonymous with hoodlums and miscreants who go around dispossessing people of their landed properties and demanding ridiculous fees that are unaccounted for.
In most cases, this group of people must be paid before work can commence on your property even with the right documents. They are that powerful in Lagos, Nigeria.
The activities of the Omo Onile made the Lagos State Government enact the Lagos State Property Law of 2016. In the law, anyone found to have used force to dispossess another person of his properties can be sentenced to ten years imprisonment. Despite this law, the issues of land grabbing are still ongoing.
How to prevent land grabbing and illegal possession of your land.
This should go without saying: criminals and the land mafia would be interested in unattended property of any kind, especially if it was located in a desirable area. While making the appropriate preparations for the property’s physical security—having a boundary wall built, for instance—is of the utmost importance, regular visits are also required. Regular personal visits are advised unless you have hired a dependable caretaker.
If you have properties that have been rented to a certain group of tenants for a very long time then you may have to consider changing the tenants in such properties. According to reports properties that have an occupied just a tenant for a very long time are more susceptible to illegal possession. Renting your property for just about 1-2 years is advertised especially if you don’t stay in the environment where the property is.
Create a barrier
In the case of plots and land parcels, building a boundary wall is the first thing that needs to be done. Regardless of whether the owner resides near or not, this must be done. In an ideal world, a housing unit would also be built to limit land shark interference.
People who live far away from the area must
appoint someone in charge to routinely check on the property to make sure no illegal activities are taking place. Hiring a caretaker would also be an excellent approach to preventing illegal occupation, however, it would not always be a practical option.
Under different articles of Nigerian law, those who have been the victims of illicit action may seek redress. You should first send a written complaint to the police in the area where the property is situated. If the police do not acknowledge and act on the complaint, a personal complaint may be filed in the relevant court.
In Lagos, Section 12-16 of the Lagos State Property Protection laws provides the jurisdiction for a task force on the power to prosecute Land grabbers
The Lagos State Government Task Force To Tackle Land Grabbers can also be reached on:
Land Task Force, Hot line 09096667123 and 09020085005
Land Task Force e mail Address [email protected]
Ensure that your land is registered with the appropriate land registry. Registering your land with the Nigerian government will take ownership of the land legally and one will have certifications to show he or she has not just possession but ownership of the land. Title to lands, Deeds and conveyance of lands will be assigned to you.
One of the best ways to prevent land grabbing is to have a utility connection because it guarantees retaining validity. Having access and paying for utilities like water, power, or gas on your freshly purchased land is simply one more layer of protection
The billing records will prove your ownership since these utilities are provided by government-owned companies using a legal holding number. It is difficult to contest the legitimacy of these billing documents because they speak for the government.
Furthermore, nobody can submit a request for a connection if there are no authentic records. Therefore, the advantage is only available to the original owner. This barrier works well to stop unauthorized land grabbing.
In conclusion, In a real estate deal, trust is crucial. For such transactions to take place, the buyers and the sellers must both be sufficiently trustworthy. Therefore, to protect your property from land speculators, make sure to deal with a well-known and reliable business.