Surveyors accuse Lagos State of breaching SURCON Act
To reposition surveying practice in Nigeria, experts have stressed the need for surveyors to update their knowledge.
They also kicked against the payment of governor’s consent fees, saying it is invariance with the Surveying Council of Nigeria (SURCON) Act.
The experts, who spoke at the 2019 yearly professional development workshop of the Association of Private Practicing Surveyors of Nigeria (APPSN), called for total observance of national laws as contained in the SURCON Act, stressing that the failure on the part of some surveyors to carry out their task in line with the stipulated rules and regulations, has led to cases of defective/incorrect survey plans being produced, used and tendered in the court.
Leading discourse on the theme: “Professionalism on the Cross: Surveying Practices and Legal law”, Ogbebor Osaretin, a lawyer and surveyor, said the practice has suffered setback because of the misrepresentation of some important facts by the stakeholders in the surveying profession.
According to him, some state governments have delved into the surveying contents of the state policies because they believe that the Land Use Act vests all land in the state in the Governor and because surveying is contained on the concurrent list of the Nigerian constitution.
For instance, he said, surveyors in Lagos state have been subjected to serious professional trauma and financial draught, as they have been deprived of their legitimate practice right, due to the fact that most parcel of land in the state have been tagged “government acquired land” or “government acquisition”.
“While the SURCON Act expressly makes it clear that Surveyors are entitled to practice throughout the Federation(that is, on government and non government parcel of land, the Lagos State Survey Law forbids the Surveyors from carrying out any survey on the state government land, without the Governor’s consent with a fee; that surveyors that fail to carryout this instruction will be made to pay N1,000 or face 12 months imprisonment upon conviction.
Osaretin said this impression is not the true position of the law because from the statutory provisions and case laws referred to, as far as surveying and geoinformatics is concerned in Nigeria, SURCON does not share its statutory and regulatory powers with any state or authority.
The State Governors or Governments, he said, have no power making policies on surveying, while the State Houses of Assembly have no power to make laws on surveying, despite the fact that surveying is on the Concurrent list, as long as SURCON exists.
“The provisions of the Lagos State Survey Laws and those of other states that are in conflict with the provisions of the SURCON Act are void ab-initio.
“The general believe is that since the Surveyor-General of the state is an employee of the state government, he reports to the Governor over the surveying exercise in the state.
“SURCON regulates survey practice throughout the country. It is the custodian of all the beacon numbers used by the surveyors for the surveyor work, it disciplines erring surveyors, and it makes provisions for how the record copies of all survey are to be lodged.
“In some instances, the state Surveyors General refuses the lodgment of record copies from Surveyors, because of the status of the parcel of land; this is very wrong.