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Legal advice on the threat posed by Omo onile on land transactions

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With the spate of issues arising from land matters especially within the Lagos, Ogun suburbs, Mr Segun Akinloye, a lawyer of repute, versed in land matters and dispute resolution, offers his advice, below:

The Nigerian Land Use Act 1978 is the principal legislation that regulates contemporary land tenure in Nigeria. Upon its enactment, the law brought about radical, if not revolutionary, changes in the erstwhile land tenure systems in the country. The law was aimed, among other things, at reducing unequal access to land and land resources, a situation that had caused a great deal of hardship to the citizenry.

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Massive and unfettered access to land and land resources by the citizens could stimulate the needed economic growth in an economy that depends heavily on agriculture and mineral resources. The Land Use Act was equally targeted at reducing the high cost of land required for industrial estates and mechanized agriculture. For these reasons, the law appeared to nationalize land when it placed it in the hands of the government as a custodian, to hold in trust and administer for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians.

As it is well known that the law does not act retroactively, The Land Use Act made provisions for landowners with customary title to land before the enactment of the act to regularise their title bringing it under the provisions of the law.

The term Omo Onile is a Yoruba word that means “landowner” and it refers to the class of people with the customary title to land before the enactment of the Nigerian Land Use Act of 1978. They are the people property buyers transact with when attempting to purchase customary or family land.

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As a result of the high cost of living and the problems associated with living in rented apartments, buyers have become extremely desperate to own lands not minding the cost, location or documentation issues that are associated with purchasing land from Omo Onile.

While the terms, condition and price may seem juicy in most instances, the problems associated with Omo Onile land purchase are numerous. In most cases, they turn out to be costlier and highly detrimental to the purchaser for the following reasons:

Omo Onile lands are owned by the families or people who purchased from the families. The import is that purchasers must be always vigilant and maintain a good rapport with the vendor till they dispose of the property.

Lack of proper documentation makes it difficult to ascertain the genuine or original owner of the land. This gives room for fraudsters and impostors to commit fraud through the deception of property buyers. Most Omo Onile lands have one issue or the other associated with them such as land dispute cases, family dispute cases, resale of another person’s land, purchasing land belonging to the government and many others.

There are both legal and illegal fees that the purchaser must pay which includes but is not limited to survey fees, legal fees, agency fees, Omo Onile signing fees, foundation fees, lintel level/roofing fees, drainage fees, electricity fees, settlement fees, etc.

Payment of all the fees and levies does not guarantee the safety or security of the property as it is susceptible to encroachment by trespassers and land grabbers. Property purchasers must be extra vigilant till the completion of the building as any form of negligence would lead to the sale of land by unknown criminals.

With the foregoing, purchase of land from Omo Onile is a high-risk venture for land purchasers it is advisable for intending purchasers to contact registered real estate practitioners with a good track record of professionalism, reliability, integrity and due diligence as they will be guaranteed peace knowing that the property they purchased is legal, problem-free and in conformity with the Land Use Act.

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Akinloye Segun is the founder and principal partner of Diesel solicitors, a dynamic and well-established law firm. He is an astute leader with an outstanding track record in mobilizing for criminal, civil, energy, oil and gas, corporate and public sector reform. He is a member of the Nigerian bar association, chartered institute of business managers and administrator ( USA), Africa society of professional economist and strategic managers, international legal research council. He is one of the few lawyers in Nigeria that practice medico-legal (medicine law)*
*In 2017, he bagged first-class honour in conflict and dispute resolution at the Macquarie graduate school of management in Australia ( pioneer member of life vanguard, he is a certified and approved united nations volunteer on legal aid with number 193511)

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