DO you plan of Buying Land in Nigeria?
Property Buying is the easiest 419 Nigerians fall for daily that never ceases to amaze me. Buying land in Nigeria is not easy. Please be safe and intelligent before you make your next purchase. Whether the land is going for N150,000 or N15Million, protect your money. You didn’t steal it, you worked hard for it, so don’t let some people steal it from you because you failed to look before you leap!
I hope this guide will help you know the important information you need to know before Buying land in Nigeria. Please don’t throw away your hard-earned money on fake properties.
Why this article?
Many people have fallen victim when it comes to buying land in Nigeria. So I think it will be wise to write down some of the things that potential/ intending Land buyers in Nigeria need to know before purchasing any properties.
Personally, I feel very bad, whenever I hear that someone is been scammed in the real estate property business and this is caused by buying a property that has some hidden scruples. Which agents may not know or won’t tell you until you have committed your money.
Buying land in Nigeria – Property Search
For the avoidance of doubt for first-time Land Buyers, who don’t know what a property search is, it means before you buy any land or property whatsoever you have to know the validity of it. This is done by going to the appropriate governmental office to verify the property details given to you by the seller before concluding the transaction.
Lagos and Abuja in particular are so notorious when it comes to the sale of property or land that has so many fraudulent defects surrounding it. These type of people that often causes this kind of issues are fake real estate developers, Omoniles, land grabbers, or land touts.
Advice: always follow due diligence when buying a property, don’t be in a hurry. It is wise to spend time and capital to buy a property that will give you peace of mind and through ownership.
Once an area has been designated as Committed, it is the ultimate no go area. As long as a Property is designated as Committed or under acquisition, it is only the Government of the day that can revoke it and anybody buying into those areas is buying at their own mega risk.
For instance, in Lekki Ajah, it’s even worse because there are some areas that have been specially acquired by the government for over 20 years. That is where they committed the area for Road expansion, future government estates, or Government Reserved areas For Major Developments. It’s just recently that the government is trying to recover those lands. These areas are what are known as COMMITTED LANDS.
Don’t for once looking at the houses around there as your guide to stop you from doing your underground check. Never you think that the government cannot demolish those houses.
Remember you know where the shoe pinches and how much you have in your pocket. Therefore, Plan to save more money than to throw it away foolishly.
The other option from Government is that if they choose not to demolish your house because it is sited on a committed land, they will end up giving you the option to come and pay Ratification. Ratification in this sense means you are going to pay Government the full price and taxes it determines to be the cost of that place and its non-negotiable.
So imagine you bought the land in 2009 for N2Million in a committed area and in 2025, you now have to pay ratification also known as “Rat” at the cost of N10Million to the Government. Does that make any financial sense to you? Definitely NO.
what you need to know about Omoniles
Who are Omoniles?
Omoniles naturally should mean owners of the original land which includes the original family that truthfully inherited the property from their forefathers that has passed down to them.
How do Omoniles cause issues when buying land in Nigeria?
The real problem comes when there are so many Omoniles (i.e many members of the family that are divided in terms of claiming ownership of the lands and how the land truthfully handed to them). Before you know it, a property that is meant to claim ownership by a family of two(2) or three(3) is now being contested by the external party like the brother in law, aunts, uncles, relatives, etc.
When these Omoniles start going around to trick, as the original owners with the right to sell and after you have fallen victim to their sweet tongues and pressure, then you will realize that you purchase a property from the wrong family. Or the wrong set of people who don’t have the right to sell the land to you.
Ways Omoniles can deceive you
when they start telling you the geniuses of the property. Showing you a set of documents the property has. Those sets of documents may include either a survey plan, a deed of assignment, a certificate of occupancy, a government allocation letter, a government gazette, or a Governor’s consent but all are fake.
They will show you all manners of papers to make you believe them instantly, also start pointing to different houses around there that have been built by one commissioner or one Minister or one big man and that their houses are still standing without any government problem. All they want is for you to instantly believe them and pay money to them immediately.
what happens when you pay money to Omonile?
One thing you can be rest assured of is that, once you pay money to an Omonile, you will never get a refund of that money. It is gone, in some cases, they will start sharing the money in your presence.
Thereafter, you would be confronted by the original owners when you have started building halfway and forced to cough out another payment to the real owners or be thrown out of the land.
Trust me this scourge is real and 65% of lands in Lagos have this problem one way or the other.
Please don’t fall for these tricks. Always demand whatever documents the property has before any transaction and do a property search. I will be pointing out the importance of each document for you to know the relevance of it and why it shouldn’t be taken for granted.
Property documents required when buying land in Nigeria
This is one of the most important documents you must ask for, from the start; to any agent/Omonile, or family that intends to sell a land/property to you. This survey plan is what you will take to the Land Bureau(office) and do a geographical search first.
Advantage of the Survey Search
Check for Future Government use:
Once a property has been designated for Future Government use, no matter how long it takes. The plan must be carried out accordingly.
If you have unknowingly purchased such property, your property will go down without any form of compensation because you failed to do the right thing by throwing caution to the wind.
Examples of such properties include the 8 Lane Dual Carriage Way in Badagry that all the houses that were on that land were demolished. All the houses in Alimosho local Government that was near pipelines. The ones in Idiroko. The houses in Ijegun etc! If you know more you can list them in the comment below.
To check for Agricultural Purpose
Another advantage of the Survey Search is that if the land has been designated for Agricultural Purpose, you would know in advance. It is most rampant in Ikorodu, Badagry, and Growing Rural Areas in Lagos that are just cropping up. Buying into a place designated for Agric is a major no-no! Except you want your immediate neighbors to be Cows, Fisheries, and probably Obasanjo’s Chicken farmers!
The summary is that the Survey Plan Search saves you a lot of headaches at first before you even move ahead. And once you meet an Omonile or Agent who is extremely difficult with you in terms of not providing the survey plan on demand for search please my brothers and sisters, walk away quietly. The signs are already there for you to know your about to be scammed.
A survey plan is a public document and not a private checkbook, so you shouldn’t be deceived by people who tell you that the owner doesn’t want to release it because of security reasons. Trust me there is no reason. As long as he/she is ready to sell, that is the first thing you get from them to know your status before proceeding.
No matter how cheap or beautiful or strategically located a land or property is, once that property has been discovered to be designated for Government use in the future, there is no point going any further to purchase it.
It will be a very foolish risk to attempt to defile the government and say nothing will happen, at least there are so many houses around or so many people have bought their own, and nothing has happened.
Unless it has been designated for Residential or Mixed Development Avoid it, please.
The Deed of Assignment or Conveyance:
This is the second most important document you need to do a personal search. A deed of conveyance or assignment traces the history of how the property or land has reached the present owner to date.
A deed of assignment: is a written agreement between the owner that sold it to you and the new purchaser to buy a land or property. Without this deed, you have no proof that the purchase occurred
It relates all the information in respect of the true owners of the land before it was passed to Mr. A and How MR A sold it to Mr. B and How Mr. B intends to sell it to you. With that document, you can trace in most respect the original families to find out if there is any dispute as to the ownership of the land how it has been transferred.
Importance of Deed of Assignment
In other to be sure that there is no lingering dispute. It is extremely important to trace the original source of the land because it’s there you get to know if the land was actually transferred to the present owner, with this also you will get to know if there is any family dispute on the land. You will also use this document to get the family name and do a thorough search in court or Alausa(if the property is in Lagos).
With this, you will get to know the hanky panky the present owner intends to play when he/she begins to tell you fowl and bull stories. Never fall for his/her trick. Ask for a copy of the deed if they have one and hand it over to your lawyer for a thorough search of the family. To be honest this is the most difficult search of them all.
Ways the present owner can deceive you includes:
- Presenting a false person to Assume the identity of the Original family so as to pretend that he or she sold it to the family 20 years ago
- Telling you that the family is not existent anymore or they have moved away from that vicinity
- Telling you all the family members have died.
- Coercing you that you don’t need to meet the family because since it has been sold to him, he is the rightful person to sell to you.
The bottom line, the deed of assignment is a major search instrument to know how, why, and when of the property you intend to buy. The process is indeed very stressful. So either be prepared to do all the walking, CID/FBI investigations or give your property lawyer on your behalf.
I hope you now know why property search is not cheap!!! Once you fail to get the real identity of the true family owners, your money may be sunk into the whitest of all elephant projects you can dream of, so please be more vigilant.
This is a document that records and states the areas the government has willingly given to the family and community to sell and that the government will not acquire it for what so ever reason except it duly notifies the world.
Gazette provides 2 major characteristics.
- The Area (e.g Ilupeju)
- The coordinates (e.g the Beacon Numbers): that separates where the Land given to the family starts and stops. This is known as an Excision.
This means, in a whole portion of land let’s say 10 PLOTS, the Government has excised 4 plots to the family and has taken 6 plots for its own use. Those 4 Plots will now be documented in a book form. Known as a Gazette. It’s the Coordinates you will get to know where the 4 plots start and end. You can never know with an unclothed Eye!
The disadvantage of Gazette Excision
- Purchasing the land that is outside the Gazetted Excision
There have been many occasions where people purchased plots of land that are outside the gazetted excision and still believe they are inside the gazetted excision coordinates.
Now the danger of the Gazette is that people who see the gazette, jump up and down and accept it whole line and sinker and proceed to pay to the family because that area is listed in the gazette and they believe that area is free. That’s very wrong and dangerous.
- Fake gazettes with fake coordinates.
- Excision may not be granted: The fact that a file number has been given at the ministry does NOT mean that the excision will be granted. This means that if the government does NOT grant the excision, you get no land.
- An actual number of requested Excision may not be granted: In an excision application, the total area of land applied for is NOT always granted.
Question: Is it okay to buy land with excision?
Answer: it Is not advisable, reason explained below:
- The fact that a file number has been given at the ministry does NOT mean that the excision will be granted. This means that if the government does NOT grant the excision, you get no land.
- In an excision application, the total area of land applied for is NOT always granted.
This means that if a real estate developer or company applied for 50 hectares of land to be excised, the government may grant 30 hectares. The implication is that those who bought land from the 20 hectares that were not granted will lose their lands.
It is only an Alausa Surveyor (for Lagos properties) that can come to that gazetted area, map out the coordinates, and tell you precisely whether your property falls inside the gazette or not. So before purchasing a property that has the title “excision” make sure you do a property search before concluding the transaction.
Certificate of Occupancy (C of O), Government Allocation, Governors Consent:
These three(3) are the dreamlands or properties you can buy from with no stress or problem what so ever. Any property that has any of the three (3) is a very good property to buy and to search for them is very easy because the records are there.
In most situations, I will encourage you to look for properties that have a Global C/O, Private Certificate of Occupancy, Government Allocation, or Governors Consent. It’s so easy to perfect your papers in the future. Also, you are most likely in most situations going to get compensated from the Government in case anything goes wrong if they attempt to acquire it or query it.
Looking for genuine properties with C of O Check out these properties
Disadvantages or Challenges of land/properties with Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)
- Expensive: The only challenge I have seen is that most properties or lands with a C/O, Government consent, or Government allocation letter are quite expensive because of the paperwork that has been done thoroughly by the present seller and it almost eliminates Omonile from the transaction in most cases. So because the owners know that they have correct papers, they market and sell their properties quite high too because they are selling you gold. But then again you need your lawyer to help you negotiate favorably to make sure the property becomes yours.
- Fake Document: The second problem is the issue of fake C of O, Government Allocation Letters, and Governors Consent. If you are not careful some Agents/Omonile will be so bold and brainwash you, to an extend you might be tempted to take their word for it but when you decide to go and verify it, you will find out that it doesn’t exist and when you go back to challenge them, you hear new stories and unbelievable song and dance stories that you would almost want to puke.
Always demand the Document to do the search. Don’t listen to their stories. If they go as far as saying they won’t release the C of O or Governor’s consent due to security risks, ask them for the number alone and the rest will be investigated. Don’t compromise and get hoodwinked. Its the way they get their bread and butter.
Document required Before Construction of a building
Building Plan/Layout plan
Building plans are the graphical representation of what a building will look like after construction and also helps in the process of evaluating the cost of erecting such a structure.
A building plan approval is necessary before construction can commence.
After ownership of land, one of the most intricate aspects of erecting a structure is processing a building plan approval. Having buildings erected on a large expanse of land without building plan approval is like running a government without laws guiding it.
Building plans are the first tangible thing that depicts the picture of the buildings that are to be constructed. In Nigeria and some other countries, it is customary to obtain a permit or approval from appropriate authorities.
Why you Need Building Plan(Layout Plan) Approval
A building plan approval ensures that the building complies with building laws and codes and to prevent people from just constructing as they deem fit. Hence, the very first thing to do when you want to commence construction, for instance in Lagos, is to obtain a Development Permit from the Lagos State Government and the office in charge is the Lagos State Physical Planning and Development Authority (LASPPDA), a parastatal under the Ministry of Lands and Physical Planning.
If you intend to purchase land from any of the real estate developers, it is important you ask for the building plan permit. Lagos State Government has enjoined all members of the public to always request for layout plan approvals granted by the Ministry before entering into any transaction with developers.
If you intend to buy land in Nigeria, especially around Addo/ Badore Ajah Estates, please note 85% of those lands / Estates there are under government acquisition and are Committed Areas. The government has Acquired over 300 Hectares of Land in that place and that is approximately 5000 plots.
Anyone who has bought there or is intending to buy there that falls within that Committed Area is just wasting his/her time living in fear of demolition or whatever the government decides to do in that place. Nobody in those committed Areas will be able to get their C of O and anyone telling you otherwise is lying. Buyers Beware!!!
This is the problem of not doing a proper search in an area before you rush and buy land. Learn from the mistake of others before you rush and join them in their own problem. Omonile will forever convince you that the place is safe but Omonile will never refund your money after you have been duped.
Finally, remember that you are not offending anybody if you are taking all the necessary steps before you drop your money for any Property Transaction, rather you are safeguarding your hard-earned money. Many have gotten their fingers burnt for failing to do what is required in a property purchase. It is not how long but how well. Do the due diligence step by step. The property is not running away, rather it’s your money that will run away if you don’t take these steps!
Meanwhile, if you need a lawyer, for your property search in Lagos, we know very good lawyers we can refer you to, just get in touch with us.
If you have any questions, contributions, feedback, or request, please leave your comment below. I would be glad to reply to you.