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Understanding The Land Documents in Nigeria

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  • Post last modified:July 8, 2021

Land documents are important thing that anyone who wants to invest his/her money in landed property must know and understand very well.

A lot of people think that the C of O is the only Land Documents they must have or ask for before they buy any land. Apart from the C of O there other vital land documents you must ask for before you buy any land.

For example many people make this mistake when they buy land and won’t ask for a Deed of Assignment forgetting that this land document is one of the important land documents you must have when buying land because without this it means that there was no transaction at all, no proof to show you are now the new owner of the land.

Land documents in Nigeria

Below is a list of seven (7) land documents in Nigeria

  • Survey plan
  • Excision
  • Gazette
  • Certificate of Occupancy
  • Deed of assignment
  • Governor’s consent
  • Receipt


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.

Surveyors are the people who handle survey issues and they are being regulated by the office of the Surveyor General of the state where the land is located.

A Survey Plan is a very important land document you must ask for whenever you are trying to buy a land. In fact, it is the most important because it is with this document that you will be able to know everything about the land. It is with a Survey Plan that you will be able to do a search to know if the land you are planning to buy is free or not.

Recommendation: whenever you are negotiating for a land you want to buy, first ask for the Survey Plan then take it to your Surveyor to conduct a land search so as to know if the land is free from government acquisition or to know what the zoning restrictions is i.e. A Survey Plan helps you to know if the land is for Agricultural, Residential, Industrial or a Commercial Purpose.

Information on the Survey Plan

The following information are what makes the Survey Plan authentic:

  • 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, thereby making it very difficult for anyone who wants to buy land to get one.

Because of this and some other reasons, it finally led to the proclamation of the Land Use Decree (now Act) 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 still 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.

So 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. In other words, not having an excision means the land could be seized by the Government anytime without compensating you even if you bought it “Legitimately” from the Baale or the Original dwellers on the land.

Hope you understand why this land document is very important before you buy any land. Because it is with this land document that you know if the Land is FREE or Under Government Acquisition.


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 as a land document 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.

If the government based on some reasons best known to them decides to revoke or acquire your land, you will be entitled to compensation as long as it’s within the Excised lands given to that community.

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.

Features of a Gazette

The following are features of a Gazette:

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”
  • 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.

The Inner pages will show the following:

  • The description of the Area or Village excised.
  • The number of Acres or Hectares of land excised to the Village.
  • Where the boundaries of the beacons start and stop.
  • The page the description of the Village excised is.


A Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is a Land Document issued by the State Government to officially leases any land under the state 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 Land Document for demonstrating Right to a Land.

What happens after 99 years? That question is still a 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 it’s largely a case of “We shall see when we get there”

A parcel of land can never be issued more than one C of O no matter how many times it changes ownership.


A Deed of Assignment is the land document that shows that you are now the new owner of a parcel of land. It is one of the most important documents you must have when you conclude a Land Transaction.

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, title, interest and ownership of that land to the buyer that has just bought the land.

The Deed of Assignment contains very pertinent information for a real estate transaction. For one, it spells out the date when the ownership of the property transfers from one owner to the other. The deed also gives a specific description of the property that is included in the transfer of ownership.


Just like 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.

According to Section 22 of the LAND USE ACT 1978 as amended, this states thus: “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”.

It is very important for a purchaser of land to perfect his or her document by obtaining Governors consent so as to have a complete rest of mind. An advantage of having a Governor’s consent is that you can transfer your land to another person without going to the Omoniles or Family Baale to sign your deed and Form 1c which are compulsory requirements needed before you can process Governors consent.


This land document is the list of all and is just for the seller to acknowledge that he/she has received the due money he/she wants to sell the land.

The mistake most people make is to think the A Receipt is the same thing with A Deed Of Assignment.



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