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Monday, November 26, 2012

Summary of the Land Use Act Decree No. 6 of 1978 in Nigeria



Introduction 

From time immemorial through the period of agriculture to the period of industrial development, land has remained the most valuable property in the life of man and his development. It is a source of wealth to those who have it and the mother of all properties. In other words, virtually all the basic needs of human existence are land dependent. In view of the importance and usefulness of land to man and his development as well as the development of his society, every person generally desires to acquire and own a portion of land to achieve the various ends for which the land is meant. Therefore, to make land in Nigeria available to all and to ensure that land is acquired and put to a proper use for the needed development, governments during and after colonial period enacted laws to govern the use or administration of land in Nigeria. 
Prior to the enactment of the Land Use Act in 1978, there were three main sources of land law: Customary Law (varied from custom to custom), English received law (which comprises of the common law, doctrine of equity and statutes of General application), and local legislation. There was also a duality of Land Use System in the southern and northern parts of the country.
The Parliament of the then northern Nigeria passed the Land Tenure Law in 1962, which governed all interest affecting land. The Land Tenure law vested all land in the governor who was to hold land in trust for the people and only rights of occupancy (not rights of ownership) could be granted to other people. The consent of the governor was required before any alienation of interest in land could take place.
In the then Southern Nigeria, however, customary system of land tenure governed land interest and land was owned by communities, families and individuals in freehold. Land was acquired either by inheritance, first settlement, conveyance, gift, outright purchase or long possession. There were also crown lands, which were acquired by the British Crown by virtue of treaty, cession, convention or agreement. When Nigeria attained independence, such crown land became known as state land.             
Notwithstanding the existence of laws regulating land, the problems of land tenure and land administration persisted both in the Northern and Southern Nigeria. There were new problems such as land racketeering and speculations. Exorbitant compensations were demanded by landowners whenever the government acquired land for development. Thus, acquisition of land by government or individuals was becoming almost impossible in Nigeria.
In fact, one of the major factors that was said to be a stumbling block against efficient implementation of the Second Development Plan 1975-1980, was lack of land for development project. To break this barrier and monopolies of landlords, the Federal Military Government set up some panels to consider how best to solve the problems associated with land tenure and administration in Nigeria. The report of one of these panels i.e., the Land Use Panel of 1977 eventually formed the basis of the Land Use Act No. 6 of 1978.
The purpose of this essay is to show the relevance of the Land Use Act to Land-use planning in Nigeria.

Summary the Land Use Act of 1978

The Land Use Decree (now Land Use Act) was promulgated on 29th of March 1978 following the recommendations of a minority report of a panel appointed by the Federal Military Government of the time to advise on future land policy. With immediate effect, it vested all land in each state of the Federation in the governor of that state (Fed. Rep. of Nigeria, 1978).
The Act vests all land comprised in the territory of each state (except land vested in the Federal Government for its agencies) solely in the hands of the military governors of the state who would hold such land in trust for the people.                                                       
The promulgation of this Act was as a result of two main factors:                               
  • Firstly, was the diversity of customary laws on land tenure and difficulty in applying the various customs of the different people. 
  • The second factor was the rampant practice in southern Nigeria with regards to fraudulent sales of land. The same land would be sold to different persons at the same time giving rise to so many litigations.                                                             
The Act distinguishes throughout between urban and non-urban (rural) land. 
  • In urban areas (to be so designated by the Governor of a state), land was to come under the control and management of the Governor. 
  • In rural areas it was to fall under the appropriate local government.                               
  • “Land Use and Allocation Committees”, appointed for each state by the Governor, were to advise on the administration of land in urban areas. 
  • “Land Allocation Advisory Committees” were to exercise equivalent functions with regard to rural land.                                                                                                                      
The Act envisaged that “rights of occupancy”, which would appear to replace all previous system or rules of inheritance to land, would form the basis upon which land was to be held. These rights were of two kinds: statutory and customary. 
  • “Statutory rights of occupancy” were to be granted by the Governor and related principally to urban areas.  
  • “Customary right of occupancy”, according to the Act, means the right of a person or community lawfully using or occupying land in accordance with customary law and includes a customary right of occupancy granted by Local Government under this Act.
Local governments were empowered to grant customary rights of occupancy to any person or organisation for agricultural, residential and other purposes with the proviso that grants of land for agricultural or grazing purposes should not exceed 500 or 5000 hectares respectively without the consent of the State Governor. With the minor exception of land subject to Federal or State claims, the Act also empowered the local government to enter upon, use and occupy for public purposes any land within the area of its jurisdiction and to revoke any customary right of occupancy on any such land. The approval of the local government was to be required for the holder of a customary right of occupancy to alienate that right.                  
The Act prohibits the alienation by assignment, mortgage, transfer or possession, sub-lease or otherwise, of customary right of occupancy without the consent of either the Governor or the Local Government as the case may be. It also prohibits the alienation of statutory right of occupancy without the due consent of the Governor (Land Use Act, 1978: section 21 subsections a and b).
Governors were empowered to revoke rights of occupancy for reasons of “overriding public interest.” Such reasons included alienation by an occupier without requisite consent or approval; a breach of the conditions governing occupancy; or the requirement of the land by Federal, State, or local government for public purposes. Only in the last of these cases would any compensation be due to the holder, and then only for the value of unexhausted improvements on the land and not for the land itself.

There are four main objectives derivable from the act and these are:

  1. to effect structural change in the system of land tenure;
  2. to achieve fast economic and social transformation;
  3. to negate economic inequality caused by the appropriation of rising land values by land speculators and land holders; and
  4. to make land available easily and cheaply, to both the government and private individual developers.




11 comments :

  1. The paper was well constructed.I would have love to read the constraints and way forward for the Act has been around for a while now.Land cost is still an issue in Urban areas Abuja specifically

    ReplyDelete
  2. nice structure and explained appropriately with simplicity

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks a lot this have gone a long way bin helping me

    ReplyDelete
  4. A well compressed straight to point analysis.
    It has helped my assignment.
    well done!
    H I O.

    ReplyDelete
  5. The 1978 Land Use Act is feudal. It has a colonial character! It denies Nigerians right to own land and the range of resources contained in it! This is outright economic dis-empowerment by other means - a trend that is synonymous with feudal and colonial rule. Basically, the law reduces Nigerians to the status of squatters, as they are mere occupiers of land not owners, no matter how much they pay or paid to acquire it. This truth highlights the silent reality of established and sustained special anti-Nigeria relationship between British neo-colonial authorities and feudal Northern Nigerian elites. The latter are known principal connivers against Nigeria's freedom and progress. For as long as Nigerians cannot own land, they will remain unable to enrich their lives with the wealth of their land! Who then owns or controls the wealth of Nigerian land? It is quietly the British who have sworn to extract every bit of wealth from our soil. Northern leaders are willing tools for achieving this criminal objective. Read this statement by a representative of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (N.C.N.C), Magnus Williams, at the fifth pan-African Congress held in Manchester in 1945 and headed by W.E.B Dubois. It basically illustrates the tragedy of Nigeria’s (and by representation, the black world’s) enslavement to the West and the need for action with the following words: The Colonial Office has always told us by words and implication that there is a happy land; and we have always answered far, far away. . . Britain says that every wealth in the Nigerian ground must come to them. While the people of Nigeria are contributing to revenue, the sons and daughters of rulers reap the benefit. We must do our best to right these wrongs. Nigerians assume a lot! Slavery is still on! Land is indispensable to survival and economic enrichment. For as long as man does not won land, he remains a slave to whoever exercises the ownership. Someone must own land. It is either Nigerians own land or some other people own it! Our government is actually holding land not in trust for Nigerians but for the
    British neo-colonial authorities who have the economic and technological power to suck our gold, oil, diamond (etc) off our land while we all mope in worsening poverty and sqalour!
    exploit which denuies

    ReplyDelete
  6. The 1978 Land Use Act is feudal. It has a colonial character! It denies Nigerians right to own land and the range of resources contained in it! This is outright economic dis-empowerment by other means - a trend that is synonymous with feudal and colonial rule. Basically, the law reduces Nigerians to the status of squatters, as they are mere occupiers of land not owners, no matter how much they pay or paid to acquire it. This truth highlights the silent reality of established and sustained special anti-Nigeria relationship between British neo-colonial authorities and feudal Northern Nigerian elites. The latter are known principal connivers against Nigeria's freedom and progress. For as long as Nigerians cannot own land, they will remain unable to enrich their lives with the wealth of their land! Who then owns or controls the wealth of Nigerian land? It is quietly the British who have sworn to extract every bit of wealth from our soil. Northern leaders are willing tools for achieving this criminal objective. Read this statement by a representative of the National Council of Nigeria and the Cameroons (N.C.N.C), Magnus Williams, at the fifth pan-African Congress held in Manchester in 1945 and headed by W.E.B Dubois. It basically illustrates the tragedy of Nigeria’s (and by representation, the black world’s) enslavement to the West and the need for action with the following words: The Colonial Office has always told us by words and implication that there is a happy land; and we have always answered far, far away. . . Britain says that every wealth in the Nigerian ground must come to them. While the people of Nigeria are contributing to revenue, the sons and daughters of rulers reap the benefit. We must do our best to right these wrongs. Nigerians assume a lot! Slavery is still on! Land is indispensable to survival and economic enrichment. For as long as man does not won land, he remains a slave to whoever exercises the ownership. Someone must own land. It is either Nigerians own land or some other people own it! Our government is actually holding land not in trust for Nigerians but for the
    British neo-colonial authorities who have the economic and technological power to suck our gold, oil, diamond (etc) off our land while we all mope in worsening poverty and sqalour!
    exploit which denuies

    ReplyDelete
  7. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Good and concise

    ReplyDelete