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Stakeholders find flaws in Land Use Act

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By Abraham Adekunle

Legal experts reveal this 45 years after the law was enacted in 1978.

Legal experts have identified flaws associated with the Land Use Act (LUA), which was enacted 45 years ago. They attributed these flaws to bad draftsmanship, among other factors. This occurred at a public lecture in honour of a legal egghead, Alhaji Femi Okunnu (SAN). Separate papers that were 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 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 provide a system that will improve tenure security, among others. In their evaluation, these legal experts said the objectives were far from being met, and it was as a result of the poor and inelegant draft of the Act, among other factors.

Operational rules should be left entirely in the hands of the states.

Dr. Banire specifically stated that the Act has failed to accrue the expected benefits. He noted the poor and inelegant drafting of the Act. In his words, “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 Government and another by the State.

The lawyer said that the multiplication of land registries should be done away with 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. He also held that membership of the Land Use and Allocation Committees (LUAC) should be specified in the relevant laws and made to have statutory tenure upon clearance by the House of Assembly.

Every state is saddled with the management of land within its territory.

According to him, these committees will checkmate the absolute and excessive powers of governors. He said that the demarcation between land in the possession of the state and local governments should be non-existent. He proposed that a single authority deal with all the lands in the state to avoid confusion. Then, Olatubora revealed in his lectures 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.

He 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 areas, which were land under LUAC/Governor’s management and LG Council’s management respectively, 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.

Olatubora suggests some reforms to the administration of LUA.

The membership of  the LUAC should be expanded to include representatives of traditional institutions, community development associations, and civil society organizations (CSOs). He also said professional members of LUAC should be nominees of professional organizations. He maintained that the 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. Finally, he said the bureaucracy associated with land administration and management in land registry should be simplified through the application of technology.

Related Link

CBN LUA PDF: Website

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