Nigeria: An Overview Of Nigeria´s Land Use Amendment Bill

Last Updated: 24 June 2009

Article by Dr. Adeoye Adefulu & Nnamdi Esionye


The promulgation of the Land Use Decree (later the Land Use Act1 (the "Act")) in 1978, brought about the vesting of exclusive powers over land comprised in the territory of any given State in the Governor of the State2. The effect was that radical ownership of land was vested in the Governor and private persons were only entitled to a leasehold interest through a right of occupancy. The Act further requires that the consent of the Governor, has to be obtained prior to any method of alienation of property by the holder of a right of occupancy3. The effect of this was that any assignment of interests or mortgages required the consent of the Governor to be legally enforceable.

The Land Use (Amendment) Bill (the "Amendment"), is currently being deliberated upon by the National Assembly. The Bill seeks to review the exclusive powers of the Governor in relation to the alienation/parting of possession with property. This paper reviews the provisions of the Bill and its potential effect on land ownership in Nigeria.

Removal of Requirement for Governor's Consent

Sections 21-22 of the Act prohibits the alienation of either a customary right of occupancy or a statutory right of occupancy via an assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sublease, or otherwise without the consent of the Governor. The above stated provisions have resulted in a plethora of issues relating to transfer of property transactions. Firstly, the process of obtaining the Governor's consent is costly, in Lagos State, for example, it costs up to 15% of the deemed value of the property. Further, even though there have been improvements to the process it still takes a long time to obtain the consent, which significantly delays the completion of commercial transactions. Additionally, the requirement to seek the Governor's consent for mortgage transactions has also proved to be an impediment in the introduction of financial tools such as mortgage backed securitisation, which requires an element of certainty in terms of the rights to the underlying securities in the mortgages to be securitised.

As a result of the above stated issues, the Amendment has been proposed to alleviate the burdens currently faced by investors in the real estate market and to provide property investment incentives. The primary amendments to the Act can be found in sections 5 & 6 of the Bill.

Section 5 of the Bill provides for the amendment of Section 21 of the Act by deleting all words after "assignment" and the inclusion of a sub section stating "the right of a holder of a customary right of occupancy to alienate such right by mortgage is hereby recognized". The effect is that holders of a Customary Right of Occupancy will now be empowered to alienate their rights by way of a mortgage, transfer of possession, or sub-lease without requiring the approval/consent of the Governor. However, it should be noted that any alienation by way of an assignment will still require the consent of the Governor prior to the assignment.

Similarly, section 6 of the Bill provides for the Amendment of Section 22 (1) and (2) of the Act by deleting the words "mortgage, transfer of possession, sub lease, or otherwise" immediately after the word "assignment"; the deletion of the proviso after sub section (1); and the creation of a new sub section (3) stating "the consent of the Governor shall not be required for the creation of a mortgage or sub lease under this section. Therefore, like the holder of a customary right of occupancy, a statutory holder may alienate his rights by mortgage, transfer of possession, or sub-lease without requiring the consent of the Governor.

Consequentially, the proposed amendments to the Act also remove the powers of the Governor to impose a penalty for the failure of a holder of a statutory right of occupancy to obtain its consent prior to the alienation of a property by way of mortgage, transfer of possession, sub-lease, or by bequest4 and also the powers of the Governor to revoke a right of occupancy where the holder of said right alienates the property by way of assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sub-lease, or otherwise contrary to the provisions of the Act or without the requisite Governor's consent or approval5.

The Requirement of Consent of Holder of a Statutory Right of Occupancy to a Sub-Underlease

Section 7 of the Bill introduces new provisions to replace the current section 23 of the Act as follows:

A sub-lessee of a statutory right of occupancy may, with the approval of the holder of the statutory right of occupancy, demise by way of sub-underlease to another person, the land comprised in the sublease held by him or any other portion of the land.

Whilst we agree that it is now necessary to remove the requirement of Governors consent from the Act, in view of the other amendments proposed, the substitution of Governor's consent with the consent of the holder of the statutory right of occupancy may cause other problems. Firstly, it may lead to the imposition of "signing or consent fees" by holders of the statutory rights of occupancy. The current draft of the Bill does not appear to anticipate the emergence of these fees and as such does not regulate it. This could therefore lead to significant costs in the completion of property transactions. Additionally, it may also lead to significant delays. It is our strong view that that section 23 as a whole should be deleted. Parties to individual transactions may choose the option of retaining such consent as a contractual requirement and not a statutory requirement.


The proposed Bill seeks to restrict the requirement of the Governor's consent to solely alienation via an assignment or sale.

In light of the above, should the Act be amended as is proposed, the holder of a right of occupancy will have a statutory avenue for avoiding the requirement of Governor's consent when of alienating his right to a third party. It should be noted that a holder of a right of occupancy, seeking to transfer title her/his right may do so by way of an assignment or sublease. The major difference between an assignment and a sublease is the reversionary interest reserved by the transferor, when transferring via a sublease. Thus, a person transferring her/his title via a sublease will be achieving the same goal as when transferred via an assignment.

Also, a holder of a right of occupancy seeking to enter into a legal mortgage, or seeking to bequest her/his property to a third party will no longer require obtaining the Governor's consent prior to s/he entering into such a transaction.

The proposed amendment is a welcome development, due to the fact that it will encourage alienation transactions as well as reduce the difficulties currently being faced by persons seeking to transfer title, but are hindered from effectively and timeously achieving their aim, as a result of the cumbersome and expensive process of obtaining the Governor's consent.


1.Laws of the Federation of Nigeria Chapter. CAP. L5

2.S.2 Land Use Act

3.S. 21 and 22 Land Use Act

4.S. 5(1f) Land Use Act

5.S. 28 Land Use Act

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions