Things to know note about Land titles and documents

Understanding Land Titles & Documents in Nigeria

Land documents are vital instruments that anyone willing to invest in landed properties must know and understand the purpose of each one.

One of the first questions people ask when they want to buy a land is the Title on the land. They all ask even though not many of them understand what the different Titles mean. Some insist on buying a land with C of O even though they don’t have the budget for it. So this post is to help you understand the different titles there are and what is safe for you to buy.


A Survey plan is a document that measures the boundary of a parcel of land to give an accurate measurement and description of that land. A Survey Plan helps you to know if the land is for Agricultural, Residential, Industrial or a Commercial Purpose.
The people that handle survey issues are Surveyors and they are regulated by the office of the Surveyor general in Lagos as it relates to survey issues in Lagos. A survey plan must contain the following information:

  • The name of the owner of the land surveyed
  • The Address or description of the land surveyed
  • The size of the land surveyed
  • The drawn out portion of the land survey and mapped out on the survey plan document
  • The beacon numbers
  • The surveyor who drew up the survey plan and the date it was drawn up
  • A stamp showing the land is either free from Government acquisition or not



Before now the traditional families have so much power when it comes to anything concerning land, they are the ones who determine which land will be sold and which one they will keep.

Because of this super power they have on land, they refuse to sell lands to individuals who need it, but give it out to them under tenancy system and which made them to still have full control over that land. This made it very difficult for anyone who wants to buy land to get one.

This led to the Land Use Decree on the 28th of March, 1978 that vested all lands in every state of the Federation under the control of the State Governors. The Land Use Act coupled with other laws made it possible for the Governor who is now the owner of all lands in the state to actually have the power to acquire more lands compulsorily for its own public purpose to provide amenities for the greater good of the citizens.

Fortunately, the government recognizes that indigenes of different sections of the country have a right to existence; a right to the land of their birth. Hence, it is customary for state government to cede a portion of land to the original owners (natives) of each area.

An Excision simply means taking a part from a whole and that part that has been excised, will be recorded and documented in the official government gazette of that state.



A Gazette is an Official record book where all special government details are spelt out, detailed and recorded

A gazette will show the communities or villages that have been granted excision and the number of acres or hectares of land that the government has given to them. It is within those excised acres or hectares that the traditional family is entitled to sell its lands to the public and not anything outside those hectares of land given or excised to them.

A Gazette is a very powerful instrument the community owns and can replace a Certificate of Occupancy to grant title to the Villagers. A community owning a gazette can only sell lands to an individual within those lands that have been excised to them and the community or family head of that land has the right to sign your documents for you if you purchase lands within those excised acres or hectares of land.

The best way to know whether a land is under acquisition or has an excision that has been covered by a Gazette is to get a surveyor to chart the site and take it to the surveyor general’s office to do a land information search so as to confirm whether it falls within the gazette and spell out which particular location it can be found.

The Following Are Features of a Gazette:

  1. The first page of a Gazette must have the following unless it is a dubious or fake Gazette
    The Logo of the Country and the inscription of the title “LAGOS STATE OF NIGERIA OFFICIAL GAZETTE”
    b. Underneath it must have the Number, Volume, Page, Date and the Location it was signed into law e.g No 26 in pages 200 to 291, Volume 87 dated 14th of August 2011 and have the contents of the list of the Villages, Settlements and parcels of land excised back to the community.
  2. The Inner pages will show the following:
    The description of the Area or Village excised
    b. The number of Acres or Hectares of land excised to the Village
    c. Where the boundaries of the beacons start and stop
    d. The page the description of the Village excised is.



A Deed of Assignment is an Agreement between the Seller of a Land or Property and a Buyer of that Land or property showing evidence that the Seller has transferred all his rights, his title, his interest and ownership of that land to that the Seller that has just bought land.

When the Deed of Assignment has been exchanged between both parties, it has to be recorded in the land registry to show legal proof that the land has exchanged hands and the public should be aware of the transaction. Such recorded Deed of Assignment comes in the form of either a Governor’s Consent or _Registered Conveyance



A Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) issued by the Lagos State Government officially leases Lagos land to you, the applicant, for 99 yrs. As already indicated above, all lands belong to the Government.

A C of O however is the officially recognized Document for demonstrating Right to a Land.

What happens after 99 years? That question is still subject of debate among experts. Most have adopted a wait-and-see attitude. Others postulate that as the new owner of the land, you the buyer, can renew the certificate of occupancy when it expires. That makes sense, but for now is largely a case of “We shall see when we get there”.


Just like the it sounds a Governor’s Consent is a land document that is obtained whenever you buy a land with C of O. It’s the land document that lets the Governor and the general public know that the land in question has changed hands.

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