Procedure For The Registration Of Title To Land In Nigeria

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Ownership and transfer of land is the gamut of the real estate sector in Nigeria.
Nigeria Real Estate and Construction
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Ownership and transfer of land is the gamut of the real estate sector in Nigeria. The real estate sector in Nigeria is one of the most thriving industries in the country and although the circumstances and peculiarity of each land or property transaction vary, what will be found is that individuals, corporations, and investors tend to acquire land which they hope becomes an invaluable asset either short term or long term. Indeed, owning landed property in any part of the world is a worthwhile investment.

In Nigeria, the state governments by the provisions of the Land Use Act 1978 hold all lands within the territory of their states through the state governor and on behalf of the people as a trustee.1 Consequently, for any person to own land in Nigeria, there must be a document that serves as evidence or proof of ownership of the land. This document can be in various forms like a statutory or customary right of occupancy, Deed of Assent (made under a grant of probate or letters of administration over an estate) amongst others.

Ultimately, a landowner in Nigeria is required to register or lodge/perfect his interest in the said land at the relevant state lands bureau registry. This is a statutory requirement as transactions over lands may be rendered inchoate for non-compliance with the statutory provisions for the registration of title to land. This process of registering one's interest in land in Nigeria is commonly referred to as the "perfection process" and this article seeks to examine the procedure for the perfection of title to land in Nigeria using Lagos State as a case study.

Why register title to land/property?

As mentioned earlier, it is a statutory requirement to register an interest in land in the aftermath of an assignment or acquisition in respect thereof. This is because, before a purchaser/assignee registers his title in a property, the interest in the property accruing to him is only equitable2. For him to be vested with legal title over the property, he must register his title to the property with the relevant lands' registry bureau, in this case, the Lagos State Lands Registry. The registration process is usually concluded once Governor's consent3 is obtained on the transaction, the document is stamped4 and the title documents of the property are properly registered.

Registration Procedure.

The registration procedure for interests in land usually culminates in the perfection of the title to the land. This connotes the complete acquisition of legal interest or title in the land. It is the final stage in a contract of sale of land which is also called the post-completion stage. Where a purchaser of land neglects to perfect his title document to such land, he stands the risk of losing the same to a bona fide purchaser for value who has taken steps to perfect his title at the appropriate land registry. Perfection of title is divided into three (3) stages viz: the Governor's consent, stamping and registration at the land registry.

The Governor's Consent.

The Governor's consent is the permission granted by the Governor of a State to a person with an interest in land to alienate such interest by assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sublease, or otherwise either wholly or partially. It is noteworthy that where the Governor's consent is not obtained in respect of the alienation of landed property, such transactions are inchoate5 and unlawful.6

Governor's consent is regarded as the first stage in the registration of title to land. This is predicated on the fact that registration at the land registry cannot be effectuated without it. Concordantly, stamping instead of the Governor's consent is risky in the sense that where the Governor declines to consent to the transaction in respect of the landed property, the expenses incurred on stamping become a waste. Where an application for Governor's consent was sought but was declined, the transfer of legal interest is invalid, null, and void. However, where it was not sought for at all in the first place, the transaction is inchoate, incomplete, and voidable.7

The vendor/assignor must obtain the Governor's consent, however, in practice, the purchaser/assignee obtains the Governor's consent.8

Documents Required for Application for Governor's Consent.

  • Form 1C (The prescribed form for application of Governor's consent in Lagos);
  • A cover letter (usually addressed to the Commissioner of Lands and Housing);
  • Documents evidencing tax clearance for 3 years for the assignor and assignee;
  • Documents evidencing payment of development fee;
  • Documents evidencing payment of land use charge, ground rent and tenement rates (where developed);
  • Copies of the deed of assignment;
  • Survey plan;
  • Document evidencing payment of consent fee;
  • Approved building plan;
  • A certified original copy of the Title document of the property;

Additional documents are required where a company is involved.

  • Resolution of the board of directors;
  • Memorandum and articles of association;
  • Certificate of incorporation;
  • Annual returns;
  • 3 years Tax clearance certificate for two or more directors;
  • Form CAC 1.1.

Upon the grant of the Governor's consent, the assignee can proceed with stamping.


This is the second stage in registration or perfection of title to land. Stamping is governed by the provisions of the Stamp Duties Act 1939. It must be done within 30 days of execution of the Deed of assignment or any other registrable instrument which seeks to transfer title or ownership of land.9 Where stamping is done beyond 30 days after the execution of the instrument of transfer, it attracts sanctions.10 It is important to note that an unstamped document will not be accepted for registration at the land registry.


This is the final stage in the perfection or registration of title to land. In Lagos State, the requirement is that every instrument/agreement/document seeking to transfer interest or title to land must be registered.11 Registration must be done within 60 days of execution of any registrable instrument, for example, a "Deed of Assignment".12 Registration constitutes notices to the whole world and equally gives priority to an instrument registered first in time against subsequent registrations.13 Once the procedure for registration of interest or title to land is successful the title can be said to have been perfected or registered.

However, where a person fails to register their interest in land, the instrument of transfer confers on them no legal title but equitable title. The document may not be admissible in evidence to establish legal title to the land but it is admissible to prove such equitable interest and to prove payment of the purchase sum for the land.14

Benefits of registration.

  • It serves as notice to the whole world that the property has been encumbered.
  • It gives priority to the instrument registered first in time.15

Effects of non-registration.

  • It may not be pleaded or given in evidence to establish title to land.16
  • Where the documents are not registered at the appropriate land registry, it will not constitute notice of encumbrance to the whole world.
  • The Purchaser is at best conferred with equitable interest in the property which may lose its priority to a bonafide purchaser of legal estate for value without notice.17

Procedure for the Registration of Title to Land.

  • Cover letter/Application and other accompanying documents are to be forwarded to the land bureau by the Applicant
  • Upon receipt of the Application, same is referenced for identification purposes at the Lands Bureau.
  • Thereafter, an investigation of the status of the land through charting is conducted at the office of the Surveyor General.
  • The property is then accessed by the officials of the Lands Bureau to determine the fees payable.
  • The Applicant thereafter pays and forwards treasury receipts of payment of fees to the accounts department of the lands Bureau.
  • Approval and endorsement of documents by the Governor or Commissioner18.
  • The necessary documents are thereafter stamped at the Lands Bureau.
  • Finally, the necessary documents are then taken to the appropriate Land registry for registration.


Perfection of title is fundamental to the title of a purchaser in a property. Consequently, where a purchaser of land refuses and/or neglects to perfect his title to the land, he stands the risk of losing the same to another purchaser for value who has taken some positive steps to perfect his title in the same land. Therefore, it is of great importance to recommend that property owners should diligently ensure that they perfect their titles as it would, in the first instance, confer on them legal interest and in the second instance afford them priority against any competing interest, barring any defect in their root of title.


1. Section 1 of the Land Use Act 1978.

2. Nsiegbe v. Mgbemena (2007) 10 NWLR (Pt. 1042) 364.

3. See Sections 22 & 26 Land Use Act 1978.

4. See Section 4 Stamp Duties Act 1939.

5. Awojugbagbe Light Industries Ltd. V. Chinukwe (1995) 4 NWLR (Pt. 390) 379; Fruit Tropic Ind. Ltd v. Amodu & Ors (2020) LPELR-51675(CA)

6. See Sections 21 & 22 Land Use Act 1978 and Jauro & Ors V. Hon. Commissioner, Ministry of Land & Survey Adamawa State (2013) LPELR-20849(CA).

7. Awojugbagbe Light Industries Ltd. V. Chinukwe (supra).

8. Ugochukwu v. CCB Nig. Ltd. (1996) 6 NWLR (Pt.456) 524.

9. See section 23 (3) (a) of the Stamp Duty Act 1939.

10. See section 23 (3) (b) of the Stamp Duty Act 1939.

11. See Section 2 of the Lagos State Lands Registration Law 2015.

12. See Section 26 of the Lagos State Lands Registration Law 2015, Section 28 (2) of the Registration of Titles Law, Chapter R4, Laws of Lagos State and Ecotrade Ltd V. Macfoy & Ors (2015) LPELR-25205(CA).

13. Okoye v. Dumez Nig. Ltd (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt. 4) 783.

14. See Mohammed V. Farmers Supply Co. (Kds) Ltd (2019) LPELR-49388(SC).

15. See Section 29 of the Lagos State Lands Registration Law 2015.

16. See Section 30 of the Lagos State Lands Registration Law 2015.

17. See the cases of Ankama & Anor V. Nzeoji & Anor (2022) LPELR-57998(CA) and Briggs v. C.L.O.R.S.N. & Ors (2005) LPELR-805(SC).

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Originally published 2023-12-18

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.

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