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45 years after, stakeholders identify flaws in Land Use Act

By Ameh Ochojila (Abuja), Ngozi Egenuka and Silver Nwokoro (Lagos)
21 March 2023   |   4:03 am
Legal experts at a public lecture in honour of a legal egghead, Alhaji Femi Okunnu (SAN), have identified flaws associated with the Land Use Act (LUA), enacted 45 years ago, which they attributed to bad draftsmanship, among other factors

Emmanuel Orhoro (Left), Alex Muoka, Anthony Eze, Olanrewaju Obadina, Alhaji Femi Okunnu, CON, SAN (celebrant), Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, CON, SAN (Chairman of the occasion and Honourable Minister for Works and Housing), Adebola Lema, Mrs. Olamojiba Lema, Stephen Obajaja, Mrs. Evelyn Obajaja and Prof. Oludayo Amokaye, SAN at the public lecture organised by Legal Torchbearers and Torch Voal Ltd on Thursday, March 16, 2023 at Agip Recital Hall, MUSON Centre, Lagos Island, Lagos State in commemoration of Alhaji Femi Okunnu’s 90th birthday.

Legal experts at a public lecture in honour of a legal egghead, Alhaji Femi Okunnu (SAN), have identified flaws associated with the Land Use Act (LUA), enacted 45 years ago, which they attributed to bad draftsmanship, among other factors

Separate papers delivered by senior lawyers such as, Dr. Muiz Banire (SAN) and Remi Olatubora, titled, ‘Land Use Act: Some Reflections, 45 years After’ and ‘Land Administration in Nigeria: 45 Years After, the Enactment of the Land Use Act, 1978’ respectively, held that Nigerians have failed to get the expected benefits from the LUA.

According to them, the principal objectives of the Act were to, among others, make land easily accessible to all Nigerians; prevent speculative purchases of land; streamline and simplify land management and ownership; make land available to government at all levels for development; and to provide a system that will improve tenure security.

In their evaluation, they, however, said the objectives were far from being met, which they attributed to the poor and inelegant draft of the Act, among other factors.

Banire specifically stated that the Act has failed to accrue to Nigerians the expected benefits. His words: “The poor and inelegant drafting of the Act is worthy of note. If the opportunity presents itself in the future, it might well be best to get the most qualified draftsmen to handle the drafting of legislation of this nature.”

Other areas faulted by the senior lawyer include, the issuance of two certificates of occupancy, one by the federal and another by the state.

He said that the multiplication of land registries should be skewed and that only states should operate registries.

Among his views, the lawyer held that the rules of engagement by way of operational rules should be left entirely in the hands of the states.

According to him, membership of the Land Use and Allocation Committees should be specified in the relevant laws and made to have statutory tenure upon clearance by the House of Assembly. This, he said, would checkmate the absolute and excessive powers of governors.

He also held that the dichotomy between land in possession of the state and local governments should be eliminated, while a single authority deals with all the lands in the State to avoid the reigning confusion in this regard.

Olatubora, in his lectures, revealed that while every state is saddled with the management of land within its territory, there should be a national integrated electronic platform or registry on which land information can be accessed.

The lawyer also recommended that land matters should be placed on the Concurrent Legislative List to assist in developing an integrated, uniform and consistent land management policy.

As part of his recommendation, he said the present dichotomy between land in urban and nor-urban, where land under LUAC/Governor’s management and LG Council’s management should be abolished.

“All land in every state should come under the management of the governor/LUAC with uniform C of O granted by the governor,” he said.

He said membership of LUAC should be expanded to include representatives of traditional institutions, community development associations, and Civil Society Organisations.

Olatubora said professional members of LUAC should be nominees of professional organisations

Also, that court should be vested with jurisdiction to determine the quantum or adequacy of compensation in the event of compulsory acquisition of land by the State.

He said the bureaucracy associated with land administration and management in land registries should be simplified through the application of technology.