Real Estate And Investment GPS

Real Estate and Investment GPS Ltd

This is going to be the most informative and detailed article you will ever find on Land Titles and Documents that protect your Real Estate investment in Nigeria.

I took my time to write this article because of the importance of this subject matter. This is because understanding Land titles and documents and their functions is a core duty for every Property owner (inherited or acquired), Real Estate Investor who values their invested money and wouldn’t want to lose it to anything, and investors planning to diversify into Real Estate. Also, every Agent, Realtor, and Property Manager who wants to be successful in this business needs to know and understand Land titles and documents that secure their Client’s Real Estate Investments and how to obtain them. This is because ignorance is never an excuse and information is power.

After reading this article, you should be able

  • To clearly understand Land Titles
  • To clearly understand Land Documents
  • Know the difference between Land Titles and Land Documents
  • Understand the roles, Titles and Documents play on properties you own or wish to acquire.
  • Be able to critically verify the status of a property before committing your money to it
  • Learn how to avoid the mistake of buying fake Titled properties
  • Understand the meaning and importance of Titles and Documents perfection.

There are tons of inaccurate and misleading articles and videos on Land titles and documentation. This article is going to be providing you with the most useful, accurate, and detailed information you will ever find on this subject. So read and bookmark it for reference purposes.

For a better understanding of Land titles and documents in Nigeria, it’s super important we start by going through the land use act of 1978, its features, and implications.



Real Estate and Investment GPS Ltd

The land use degree, No. 6 of 1978, popularly known as the land use act of 1978 is An Act to Vest all Land compromised in the territory of each State (except land vested in the Federal government or its agencies) solely in the Governor of the State, who would hold such Land in trust for the people and would henceforth be responsible for allocation of land in all urban areas to individual’s resident in the State and organizations for residential, agriculture, commercial and other purposes. Similar powers within non-urban areas are conferred on Local Governments. This law became effective on 27th March 1978 unto this day


“Why the land use act?”  has been the question on the lips of the majority of real estate investors and property owners in Nigerian. The land use act of 1978 was designed to offer solutions to several issues plaguing property development in Nigeria such as;

1. The lack of irregularities in the laws governing the use of land in Nigeria

2. Uncontrolled speculation and land hoarding in Urban areas

3.  The problem of access to land rights by Nigerians on an equal legal basis

4. The issue of fragmentation of rural lands arising from either the application of traditional principles of inheritance or population growth and the consequent pressure on land.


1. To improve economic growth and social transformation by ensuring that anyone who requires land and can optimize its use gets it.

2. To bridge the economic imbalance of rising land value caused by speculators and land hoarders, making such lands available for immediate use and development of the State.

3. To reduce the number of boundary disputes and communal clashes as a result of inherited land. This was done by mandating a registered survey popularly known as the “red copy survey” of acquired land before a title can be granted

4. To make it easier for farmers to acquire agricultural lands, as it provides 500 hectares of land for cash crop production and 5000 hectares of land for grazing

5. To make land cheaply available for government and individual developers who will use it effectively for the development of the state, although a lot of people have argued that the act has only brought the opposite of its original intentions.

It’s therefore important to note that the land use act of 1978 gives the State Governors full responsibility to manage lands within their State (except land vested to the federal government or her agency). These lands are allocated to individuals through titles and documents.


My interaction with over 500 Realtors, Real Estate Agents, Property Developers, and investors revealed that over 80% of the aforementioned neither understand nor know the difference between titles and documents, also so many articles you’ve read and videos you’ve watched on YouTube concerning the subject of Land titles and documentation are completely wrong. To perfect your documents and secure your property investment, you need the right information, otherwise, your property will be porous to land grabbers and government policies. Ignorant is never an excuse, you can choose to learn it here now, or learn it the hard way later.


Let’s start by defining the word “title”

A title is a name given to a particular right a holder has on a particular object or propertyTitle

Land titles are names, given to the legal rights, a person has on his/her land.

A title may be a partial interest in the property or it may amount to full ownership. However, titles give people a level of authority on lands. Once a buyer acquires a titled land, the title will define the buyer’s right and access to the property and this buyer can decide to modify the title as he/she sees fit.


Documents are pieces of written, printed, or electronic materials that provide information or evidence or that serve as an official record.

A Land document is therefore a document that shows the ownership of a property or that gives the person possessing it the right to deal with the property as if they owned it or that spells out the right a person has, on a particular property.

In short, a land document provides information on the type of right (title) a person has on his land

You can call documents vehicles for transferring titles from a seller to a buyer.

For a better understanding of the land titles and documents let’s take a quick look at Land Classifications in Nigeria.


Land classification in Nigeria refers to categories and characteristics, by which the government makes land available or unavailable to the general public


There are two major Classifications of Land in Nigeria. These are Freehold and Government Acquired


A parcel of land is considered free if the government has not indicated interest whatsoever in that land. Such land is safe to buy because a title can be obtained for the land, from the government without issues. The majority of land in rural areas are classified as freehold. This can explain the reason real estate companies in Lagos state are stampeding for properties in Epe because, at the time of writing this article, Epe still falls under rural area and most lands in Epe are Classified as “freehold” while a few other locations in Epe are mapped out for Agricultural purposes by the Government.


All lands that fall within areas that are designated as “urban areas‟ are under government acquisition until deemed committed or free e.g., Victoria Island, Ikoyi, Ikeja, Lekki, Ibeju Lekki, Trans Amadi, Waterlines, and other major towns and cities across Nigeria

There Are Two Major Types of Acquisition in Nigeria, these are Committed Acquisition and Global or General Acquisition.


A parcel of land is said to be under committed acquisition when the government has indicated an intention to use that land for a specific purpose such as the provision of amenities like hospitals, parks, stadiums, road projects, drainage Schools, Community support centres, military base, etc.

Such lands belong to the government and can never be available for use by individuals. If you purchase land that is under committed acquisition, it will be impossible for you to obtain a title nor perfect your land document and you’ll only be occupying the land until the government decides it wants to make use of it. This is usually the type of land fraudsters and fake agents portray to you as a very cheap opportunity and you become prey because you are not skilled in the act of conducting detailed due diligence and property verification. This means that even if you have structures on such land, they will be demolished and you will not be entitled to compensation

Committed Acquisition


Lands that are under general or global acquisition can later be confirmed free or committed as the case may be.

A land under general acquisition can become free by a process known as Excision.

Land under general acquisition can also be released to individuals and organisations, through a process known as Ratification or Regularization.

 In the case of ratification and regularization, the use of the land must fall in congruence with the original plan of the government because the land use act of 1978 makes it a key responsibility of the state government to ensure that land is used to achieve optimum development of the state.


Titles are names given to a particular legal right a person has on their property, while documents are vehicles used to convey these rights to individuals or organizations.

If you are a real estate developer, agent, consultant, realtor, investor, property owner, or you are thinking about joining the real estate business. I will encourage you to pick a glass of coffee, relax losing your ties a little because we are about to take a detailed and comprehensive look into land titles and documents that secure your property investment in Nigeria. The moment you have this information, you will be able to easily identify “false titled properties” and you will never make investment mistakes that can cost you your hard-earned money ever again. In other words, the information will improve your investing smartness.

Let’s dive right in…



Excision simply means taking a part out of a whole. Remember, we learned earlier, that the land use act of 1978 puts the state Governors in charge of land within her territory. Excision is a process by which the government makes portions of these lands available for individuals and communities. Simply put, an excised land means land that has been released by the government to the indigenous people, who are the original owners before the government acquired it. This means that such land is no longer under government acquisition and it’s very safe to buy as it becomes easy to perfect the documents of such land

For instance, in 1980, Parts of Victoria Island, Marina, and Lekki phase 1 made up one big Community known as Oniru. The then Oniru covers an estimated landmass of about a hundred thousand square meters (100,000, sqm).

The then Government of Lagos state developed an interest in this location and decided to use some portions of Oniru for purpose of developing the State. The government acquired the location and excised about thirty thousand square meters (30,000sqm) to the original dwellers of the land.

The Oniru Community was able to sell and develop the portion allocated to them while the remaining portions were split into the present Ikoyi, Victoria Island, and parts of Lekki Phase 1, and the development was facilitated by the Lagos state government through developing parts of this land and allocating other parts to individuals and developers who can develop the areas in line with government plans

When you buy land that has not been properly excised, the government maintains the right to collect the land back from you at any time without compensating you. This can take less than a year or 50 years later and it doesn’t matter whether you have a structure on it or not. The government will come for her land when they are ready.

  • An urban land without excision can neither get document perfected nor get a building plan except through a process known as ratification or regularization. However, the chances are slim and narrow.


Real estate Companies, who acquire land from villages without approved titles have used the term “excision file number” to deceive innocent investors and make them risk their hard-earned money on lands that are currently under global acquisition.

I wish to categorically inform all you innocent investors that the excision file number is not a title and neither is it the same with Approved Excision.

Excision File Number

Excision file number simply means that the Community, where this property is located has applied for an Excision for the said property. The Government reserves the right to approve or deny this application.

Compare Excision file no. to a job application. You receive a tracking number, showing that you’ve initiated a process, and that does not guarantee you get the job, however, you might be lucky to be granted an interview where you might be competing with 25 other candidates who are seeking the same job

Think about it this way; if all the excisions applied for were granted, there will be no portion left for infrastructures such as roads, drainage, parks, schools, health centres, etc. Therefore, some excision file numbers are granted in parts, some are denied while some take a couple of years as we’ve seen in the past, where it took more than 3 years for an Excision to be granted.

The one advantage of buying lands with excision file numbers is the fact that they are usually very cheap and as soon as the Excision is granted, their value usually hits the sky, sometimes between 3x and 5x for the extremely cheap lands. Therefore, If you are an addicted gambler, you can risk your money, buying lands with Excision file Number, hoping it gets approved.

But at events where approval is denied, you should also be ready to deal with the consequences of losing your hard-earned money. Although some real estate companies, to protect their integrity will move you to another land with Excision in progress or to rural land with free-hold. The big question will be –

  • Is this new location going to be worth it?
  • Will the Excision be approved this time?

And sometimes some may ask you to add more money to get a titled land in another location. The question here is, will you be ready with the money when it happens?


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

Once Excision is fully approved and granted, it is recorded in a State book called Gazette and then will be published on a minimum of 2 national dailies such as Vanguard, Punch, etc.

  • – The number of communities granted excision and
  • The size of land that has been excised to each Community

It’s important to note that communities are entitled to sell lands, only from portions excised to them, and not anything outside that. This explains the reason selling lands with excision file numbers can be viewed as illegal and such lands can never get document perfection except the excision gets approval from the government.

Excision and Gazette are both very powerful titles that give communities full rights to use properties as they see fit. Land with excision and gazette is very safe to buy because all things being equal, it’s easy to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) and perfect the documents to your name. If government should decide to collect back a portion of Excised or Gazette land for an overriding public interest, the affected community will be entitled to adequate-Compensation


Like we already have learned from this article, that land belongs to the state, and it’s held in trust by the governor to bring optimum development to the state. A Certificate of Occupancy, also known as C of O, is a legal title, issued by the State Government, to a person or organization, granting a total right to this individual or organization, to occupy this property for 99 years, which is renewable upon expiration.


Before a person can be issued with C of O in Nigeria, the person should be able to provide documents to prove that this land has been legitimately transferred to him and that the said land is not in any way, within the locations mapped out by the government for development of the state. In other words, the document should be able to prove that the said land is not under Government acquisition. This document is duly investigated to conform with the above-mentioned criteria before the title is issued.


Here are the four basicrequirements for Certificate of Occupancy according to Lagos State Government

i-             Duly completed Application form

ii-            Payment receipt for the application form

iii-           Payment receipt for allocated land

iv-           Four passport photographs


The following are the major rights, conferred on a C of O holder –

1. Absolute rights to the land, which is enforceable against all persons except the governor of the state where the land is situated.

2. Sole right to absolute possession of all improvements on the land.

3. Right to transfer, assign and mortgage any improvement on the land subject to the provisions of the land use act.

4. Right to be compensated in the event the land is acquired by the governor for overriding public interest.

  • The titles – Excision and Gazette are used to officially allocate land to communities. If in the future, the Government decides to reclaim a portion of excised or gazette lands for an overriding public interest, the community will be entitled to compensation.
  • If you bought an Excised or Gazette land from a Community, it’s highly recommended you perfect this land to Certificate of Occupancy(C of O) in your name. Having this title to your name automatically qualifies you for complete compensation in the event, where the government decides to reclaim this land for overriding public interest.
  • The title – Certificate of Occupancy on each tenure of 99 years can only be obtained once. This means that if you bought a property with an already assigned title – C of O, to perfect your document to your name, you will need to get a title called – Governors Consent

Before any land transaction can be treated as “perfected“, it must receive the consent of the governor of the State. Be it Excision, Gazette, C of O, Probate or Letter Of Administration, etc. The government must consent before any land transaction is perfected because lands within the territory of the state are placed under the trust of the Governor as declared by the land use act of 1978.

Because C of O can only be obtained once, whenever land with the title – C of O is transferred from one person to another, the new owner must get Governor’s consent to perfect this transaction. The governor with her agency will investigate and prove this transaction before giving their consent.

The role of the Governor’s Consent can be found in Section 22. Of the land Use Act Of 1978 as amended  “It shall not be lawful for the holder of a statutory right of occupancy granted by the  Governor to alienate his right of occupancy or any part thereof by assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sublease or otherwise howsoever without the consent of the Governor first had and obtained”

The title – Governors’ consent must be obtained whenever a land-property changes hand before the document can be perfected. This means that Governor’s Consent can be obtained several times on the same property by different buyers. The last person to get the governor’s consent becomes the rightful owner of the property and will be entitled to adequate compensation in an event, where the government decides to reacquire the property for overriding public interest.


This story is a personal experience of my Client, whose name will not be disclosed for privacy purposes. Therefore fictional names will be used to represent the real characters where necessary…

When I bought my first Land in Aba Abia State, May 2014, I kept my deed of assignment properly in my closet and returned to Benin City to continue my business, to hustle for 1 more year, and then start building.

Same year December, during the festive period, I decided to visit my site at least to remind myself of my beautiful investment, the reward of my hustle.

Surprise, surprise a very unpleasant one, I saw an unfinished and partly broken wall on my land. I decided to contact the young man who sold me the land but all his phone lines were dead. I went to the community and got some shocking revelations.

Before I paid for this land, the young man told me that the land is his share of inheritance from his father. And this is true, he is the rightful owner of the land. The unfortunate thing here is that I am one of the 9 persons he sold this land to. He intended to use the money he made from the 9 of us to travel out of Nigeria and start a new life abroad, but never made it as he was denied Visa twice and before he could make the 3rd try, he was apprehended.

What’s happening to him is not my concern right now because he was issued a jail term and that will never bring back my money as we found nothing valuable in possession that could compensate 9 of us except a 2004 Mazda-3 Saloon Car. What could a Nigerian used Mazda-3 car do for 9 of us?

The lesson I learned from this transaction is this he continued – the court gave this property to one of us – Mrs Ifesinachi.

Mrs Ifesinachi was the 6th person to make payment for this land. However, she was the first and only person to obtain the governor’s consent on the property.

The Court didn’t give the property to the first person who acquire this land from the dubious owner, rather they gave it to the person with a perfect document.

  • Buying land with the titles – Excision, Gazette, C of O, or even Governors Consent does not completely authenticate you as the owner of the land until you perfect the title to your name by consenting the governor of the state through her agency.
  • The reason Omoniles and fraudulent property owners and agents sell and resell your property is because they know that majority of the buyers won’t even bother getting a Governor’s Consent to their name.
  • Until you get a governor’s consent, the state government does not recognize you as the owner of the property, and if there is a need for the government to reclaim the property for overriding public interest, the person that will be compensated will be the past owner whose name appears on the government record, until proven otherwise.


Where a person who owns a piece of land dies, the personal representatives of such person before exercising control or ownership over the property must obtain a Grant of Probate – in case the deceased left a Will or Letter of Administration – in case the deceased died intestate(died without writing a will). The Probate and the Letter of Administration are the only valid titles to any property left behind by the deceased person. Both documents can be obtained via the Probate Registry of the State High Court or High Court of the Federal Capital Territory


Having learned about the 4 major titles that protect your Real estate investment, their characteristics, and features, let’s quickly take a detailed look into Real Estate documents that protect your investment

We shall be discussing 4 documents that authenticate your Real Estate investment deals and property acquisition. No. 3 and 4 are the most important documents you must possess before the property can be seen as your own in the eyes of the law.


A receipt is a piece of a written document, proving that money, goods, or service have been received.

Receipt of purchase shall be the first document you will receive from the family, Real Estate company or representative


A contract of sales is a written agreement that shows the responsibility assigned to the parties involved in the transaction.


A survey document, also known as a survey plan is a very important document, that gives accurate and precise information such as land measurement, location on the map, boundary, and description of the land.


Simply put, a survey is a special map that defines the characteristics of the land. The land use act of 1978 makes survey documents mandatory for every landowner and without a survey document, it is impossible to perfect a title to your name. This further means that your right to ownership of the land is questionable without this document.


When it comes to land in Nigeria, there are 2 major types of surveys. These are Provisional survey and Registered survey


Just like the name implies, a provisional survey is a type of survey a person carries out on his property for information purposes. A provisional survey is not a legal document.


A survey plan that is obtained from the service of a registered surveyor and lodged at the record of the office of the surveyor-general of the state is considered a registered survey. A registered survey is also known as a “red copy” and this does not mean that it is red😃


For a survey plan to be considered a land document, it must contain the following information –

1.            Full name of owner/owners of the land

2.            Name of the surveyor who carried out the survey

3.            The Address and description of land surveyed

4.            A drawing/map description of the land surveyed

5.            The beacon numbers of land surveyed

6.            A stamp and signature of The Surveyor General of the state.


–              Your survey document is your identity to your property

–              A survey document is used in processing all titles and deeds of assignment

–              Most financial institutions won’t accept your land as collateral except you have a registered survey on the property to your name.

–              Only lands free from government acquisitions can obtain a registered survey. A land with an Excision File Number can never get a registered survey until Excision is approved.



Simply put, A Deed is a document of Title or legal rights. The Oxford dictionary defines a Deed as a legal document that is signed and delivered, especially one regarding the ownership of property or legal right


A Deed of Assignment also known as Deed of Conveyance is a very important transactional document drawn up by a real estate attorney between the current title-holder (assignor) and the new buyer(assignee). It is a legal document that transfers the right of ownership of a property from the assignor (who can be addressed as seller) to the assignee ( who is the buyer or the new owner of the property)


The deed contains very important information for a real estate transaction. It spells out the date when the ownership of the property was transferred from one owner to the other. The deed also gives a specific description of the property that is included in the transfer of ownership.


For a deed to be considered legal, it must contain all of the following information

  •              The names of the parties to the agreement
  •              The address of both parties. (Assignor and Assignee)
  •               A brief history of the land in question. Such history may include how it was first obtained down to the moment of the current transfer
  •             The agreed cost of the land and the willingness of the seller to finally accept the price paid for the land
  •              The description and size of the land to be transferred
  •              A survey plan attached
  •            The covenants or promises both parties choose to undertake to perfect the transfer of the document
  •           The signature of the parties to the assignment and witnesses to the transaction
  •             Finally, the section for the Governor’s Consent must be signed by the Governor or any government official designated by Governor for such purpose in the course of registration or perfection of the deed.

The deed of Assignment is referred to as the vehicle of property title or right transfer


–              No matter how much you paid for a land, you need a deed of Assignment to authenticate your right of ownership.

–              Deed must be recorded in the Courthouse or Assessor’s office to make them fully binding in most states. Failure to file them simply means that you have an imperfect deed of Assignment.



Many Real Estate Companies project Government Allocation as a title. unfortunately, this is not very true.

The Land-use Act of 1978, An Act to Vest all Land compromised in the territory of each State (except land vested in the Federal government or its agency) solely in the Governor. The “Act” puts the governor in complete control of land within her territory. The governor is obliged to use these lands to serve the interest of the state. Therefore, the Government is given the right to allocate land to individuals and organizations who can further use the land for the development of the State.

Government Land allocation is therefore a process whereby the governor of a state, uses her authority to formally allocate land that was under acquisition, to individuals or organizations for the interest of the state at a particular fee.

The easiest way to define Government Allocation might be – an opportunity for individuals to buy land, directly from the state.


i.              4 Passport Photographs with white background.

ii.             Land Survey

iii.            Income Tax payment evidence

iv.           Current Development Levy.

v.            All payment receipt

vi.           Allocation Form and Receipt.

vii.          In the case of the company, evidence of payment of income tax of two directors and development levy.

viii.         Formal Letter addressed to the Executive Secretary – Land Use and Allocation Committee(LUAC)

ix.           Vital Information Form

Buying lands that were allocated to you by the government are usually very safe because you don’t have to deal with Omoniles or fraudulent agents.  Also, you have an express ticket to get your C of O.


Court judgement simply implies that the individual went into a court battle with the government or with another party over an expanse of land and came out victorious. Such person can then proceed to process the appropriate land documentation to grant him exclusive rights to such land, which could be either C of O, Governor’s Consent, Excision, or Gazette as the case may be.


A mortgage is a loan, used for financing a property. Mortgages are “secured” loans. With a secured loan, the borrower promises collateral to the lender if they stop making payments. In the case of a mortgage, the collateral is the property. When you default on a mortgage, the lender takes over the property with a process known as foreclosure.

There are 2 major types of mortgages. They are legal mortgage and equitable mortgage. A legal mortgage is a type of mortgage that transfers the legal right one has in the property, whether leasehold or freehold in consideration for loan advancement while an Equitable Mortgage transfers just an equitable interest in the property to the mortgage.


According to The Land use Act of 1978, the governor may revoke the right of property ownership for an overriding public interest. An Overriding public interest might include activities that improve the wellbeing, economy, and development of the state. These include the crossing of the pipeline, expansion of roads, the building of drainages, the building of railways, or other related purposes.

If your property is affected partly or fully by any of these classified as overriding public interest, you will be entitled to adequate compensation, only if you have your titles and documents perfected to your name.


This is a body, committed to overseeing all issues and transactions related to land in the state. The following are their key responsibilities;

  •              Land allocation at various existing Schemes in the State to the public;
  •              Processing and issuance of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)
  •             Management of all existing Schemes in the State
  •              Administering Ground Rent and computation of Demand Notice
  •             Management of Government Leases
  •             Technical Committee on Excision Matters
  •             Creation and Management of Residential & Industrial Schemes
  •             Dispute Resolution on Land Matters
  •            Regularization of Federal Government Grants
  •            Renewal of Leases
  •             Preprocessing Deemed Grant Consent (formerly Private C of O)
  •              Other duties as may be assigned by the Governor.


Finally, it is sacrosanct for every intending purchaser of land or landed properties to ensure that proper and detailed due diligence is conducted for verification of title and documents, accessibility, and usage of the land to be purchased.

Please note that apart from having a good title, a landed property may be encumbered for other reasons, which include existing mortgage or pledge of the property, criminal sales or resale, criminal forfeiture among others. It is, therefore, necessary to do all your real estate investing and property acquisition with the guidance of an expert.

Real Estate and Investment GPS is an organisation of Real estate experts, and it’s your one-stop solution to the smartest investment property acquisition and management as it offers the Best Real estate Consultancy/Advisory Services and the Best Property Management Services you could ever get across the 36 states of Nigeria.

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