The main function of a state land registry is to keep proper records of all land transactions in the state. The land registry in Lagos is currently the most developed land registry in Nigeria. The registration of instruments affecting land in Lagos dates back to 1863 when Lagos was then administered together with the Gold Coast now known as Ghana. The first type of Land Instruments/Titles that came into operation were known as Crown Grants.
A land registration system is necessary to determine, record and disseminate information about the ownership, value and use of land. As such it also contributes to “good governance”. The objectives of land registration in Nigeria are:
- To give government capacity to manage a valuable natural resource
- To help sustain the rule of law by regulating real estate and land markets
- To provide security for landowners but also for national and international investors and the finance sector
- To assist the development of labour markets by easing labour mobility
- To assist the development of financial markets by providing collateral security
- To assist in the creation of new business entrants
- To provide government with a source of revenue
A land registration system and campaigns to increase or encourage registration may also contribute to the “alleviation of poverty”. This is true because it;
- provides information for land reform or land redistribution policies
- provides access to a secure tradable commodity
- provides access to formal services and rights
- provides access to credit for investment in either business or human capital
Land registration therefore, may reduce poverty by giving people guaranteed, protected land rights, which serve as a source of personal wealth and provide opportunities for economic independence. In summary a good system will;
- support governance and the rule of law
- facilitate land reform and help to alleviate poverty
- guarantee ownership and security of tenure
- support land and property taxation
- provide security for credit
- develop and monitor land markets
- protect State lands
- reduce land disputes
- improve urban planning and infrastructure development
- manage natural resources and support environmental management
- provide statistical data
As noted earlier, one of the most advanced registration system in Nigeria exists in Lagos state. The Land Instruments Registration Law of Lagos State requires that any document affecting land in Lagos State, in whatever manner, must be registered at the Lands Registry. Failure to register such a document implies that the document is void. Equally significant is the legal principle that a void document cannot be pleaded or held admissible by a Court of Law. The Registration of Titles Law of Lagos State also compulsorily requires all Instruments relating to land to be registered.
Benefits of an Efficient Land Registration System in Nigeria
The improvement in land registry service delivery has a number of consequences for the population of Nigerians and for the real estate business in the country.
Firstly, proper registration of land is essential for all land proprietors. Land has great economic value and proper registration will give the proprietor a state guaranteed title which can be used to access bank loans for small business development. This will encourage business and commerce to flourish which may contribute to the alleviation of poverty in the state.
Secondly, registration of documents means there is an up-to-date official record of the land owner and this makes conveyance work much simpler in the event of a sale by the land owner. Buyers can make an official search on-line before completing a purchase.
Finally, registration procedures are straight forward and efficiently carried out. We have actually produced a simple and easy to read Registration Procedures booklet which explains all our registration procedures and informs applicants of the requirements for our various processes. The booklet can be obtained free of charge at the Lagos registry and is a viable method of disseminating information to the public.
This is one of the crucial points in our successful agency work and our understanding of how to do this properly is non-negotiable. We cannot afford of be ignorant in these affairs.