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8 Steps to Take When Buying Land in Nigeria

In this article, we will discus the 8 Steps to Take When Buying Land in Nigeria. I will show you a complete guide on the process of land acquisition in Nigeria.

Every rules, regulations, process and procedures regarding land acquisition in Nigeria are comprehensively spelt out in the Land Use Act of 1978. Nevertheless, every tribe and community in Nigeria has their own unique land acquisition procedures.

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That is the aspect I will call unofficial land acquisition procedures.

8 Steps to Take When Buying Land in Nigeria
Image Source: http://9japroperty.com.ng

According to the Land Use Act, all land in the State is to be held in trust by the State Governor for the benefit of all Nigerians. For a legitimate acquisition of land in Nigeria, the prospective occupier of land must apply to the government of the state where the land is located for a Certificate of Occupancy or C of O. Meanwhile, a legally authenticated certificate of occupancy covers a period of three years.

However, federal government and local government areas have rights stipulated in the land use Act to issue certificate of occupancy in respect of land that lie within the Federal Capital Territory or its environs, and those that lie outside urban centres respectively.

Buying Land in Nigeria: Step by Step Guides to Land Acquisition in Nigeria  

Are you planning of Buying Land in Nigeria? If yes, the following tips are for you.

1. Carry Out Thorough Investigation on The Land Holder

This is important to avoid acquisition of landed property that is fake or under dispute. There is nothing frustrating than buying land in Nigeria only to discover at the point of development or erecting a structure that the said land has been under Court Order, or that the transfer was not from the original owner.

How to easily identify lands that are under such conditions is when you see an undeveloped property situated in a well-developed area.

Just do some findings and you will discover it is under one Court case or another. Another reason you should carry out investigations before proceeding to the next step in buying land in Nigeria, is to limit the chances of falling for fraudsters (419). This is where the bold inscriptions on building walls ‘this land is not for sale; beware of 419’ emanated from. The caution is as simple and explicit as that, so beware.

2. Hire a Competent Lawyer

The expertise and legal status of a Lawyer will positively influence your land acquisition process. When buying land in Nigeria, a Lawyer begins where you stop in the investigation of the titleholder of the land you intend to buy.

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The Lawyer also possesses the documents that will force the titleholder of the land to produce witnesses when signing the agreement that will transfer ownership of the land to you.

Where latent issues are involved in the agreement, the Lawyer is still the one in position to interpret and clarify such issues to all parties involved. He also performs other functions in the land acquisition process as you will see in the points that follow.

3. Seek Government Consent

When buying land in Nigeria, you may have to seek government consent by applying for a certificate of occupancy or the C of O through the appropriate agency often the Bureau of Lands and Survey in states, Federal Ministry Of lands Housing, and Urban Development, when land is located in a federal territory.

Here you must avoid cutting corners so that you don’t acquire fake documents  from false agents. Pass through the right procedures, exercise patience even though bureaucratic redtapism could delay the process. The process could be a bit faster and easier with the involvement of your Lawyer.

4. Prepare a Document of Transfer

This is where you get in contact with the title Holder of the land, with your witnesses or referees and his. The land actually becomes yours when both parties signed the transfer document. A Lawyer, for validity best coordinates this process.

5. Register Your Land

after all set and done, you approach the appropriate local, state, or federal government agency for proper registration and documentation of your land.

Some fees and other rates may be charged. It is legal for securing government approval.  You then gain the freedom to do whatever you wish on your land provided you abide by the environmental and town planning rules of the area.

However, there are also some unofficial processes to undertake before you finally own the land; otherwise, you will only own the land legally but not locally as far as the community is concerned.

What to Do After Buying land in Nigeria

6. Settle All Traditional Issues on The Land: 

When buying land in Nigeria, some communities irrespective of tribe collect certain things ranging from drinks, cash, goat, rams, chieftaincy attires, wrappers etc from land acquisitions.

Bypassing this process could either spell doom to the land holder or deny him a peaceful occupation of the land.

Some families have their own special requirements that must be met before the new title Holder can gain access to a piece of land acquired.

After buying land in Nigeria, identify and meet those requirements because it is better to give Caesar what is Caesar’s than face the consequences that accompany noncompliance.

7· Settle All Interests on The Land

Like I mentioned before, after buying land in Nigeria, you might experience several interest groups coming to you for some ransome. The Omoniles, Area Boys, Land Fee Collectors or what have you can never be bypassed, ignored, avoided or outsmarted. If you try, they will give you the trouble of your life directly or indirectly and there is nothing virtually you can do about it.

So as you go through the land acquisition process, have it at the back of your mind that these arrogant fellows will surely come for their share of the deal and they do that without permission from anybody, since they feel it is their right.

I call them arrogant because they are not considerate at all. After all somebody who has money to buy a landed property in their community must have money to settle them. They come like inferno. They don’t entertain delays and don’t accept excuses. All they need is their share and they are good to go. Else, they can do the unexpected before you realize yourself.

8· Secure Your Land Immediately After Purchase

To avoid unnecessary lawsuits or quarrels with neighbours, it is advisable to secure your land by engaging certified Surveyors immediately you complete the process of acquisition.

If neighbours do not shift the boundary of your land obviously, they do that tactically and get ready to invoke all available means to fight you.

Prevention they say is better than cure. Therefore, ensure that you speedily carry out survey on the land and fence it around. No one would want to temper with legally binding records.


Despite the fact that every rules, regulations, processes and procedures regarding land acquisition in Nigeria are comprehensively spelt out in the Land Use Act of 1978, each tribe and community has its own land acquisition rites.

The local parlance ‘Omonile has grown into an institution where every intended buyer of landed property in the country get to carter for before attempting to erect any structure on acquired land.

Nevertheless, this article has covered every aspect of land acquisition process in Nigeria, including the official and unofficial.

Read Also:  10 Things to consider when buying a land in Nigeria

Best wishes as you go through the process of becoming a property owner in Nigeria.

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Samuel Udo

Samuel Udo is a graduate of Political Science. A Creative/Freelance Writer and Public Commentator whose articles have been published in top print media such as 'The Pioneer Newspapers'. InfoGuide Nigeria is a team of Resource Persons and Consultants led by Ifiokobong Ibanga. Page maintained by Ifiokobong Ibanga. If you need a personal assistance on this topic, kindly contact us.

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