Land Titles and Documents in Nigeria

Land Titles and Documents in Nigeria

In this post, we will explain different land titles and documents in Nigeria, including the meaning of general acquisition and committed acquisition. You will also learn about the relationship between Excision and Gazette.


If you understand land titles and documents in Nigeria and you make proper research, you will know whether a particular landed property is either free or it is unsafe to purchase. A parcel of land is considered free if the government has not indicated any interest whatsoever in that land. Such land is safe to buy because the title on the land can be perfected without issues. In most cases, such lands will either have a gazette, a C of O, or a governor’s consent.

Now that you understand what it means for land to be free and the importance of land titles and documents in Nigeria, you should also know that all lands that fall within areas that are designated as ‘urban areas are under government acquisition until deemed committed or free.

Two types of Land Acquisition:

  1. Committed Acquisition
  2. Global / General Acquisition

Committed Acquisition

A parcel of land is said to be under committed acquisition when the government has indicated an intention to use that land for a specific purpose such as the provision of amenities. Such lands belong to the government and can never be available for use by individuals. If you purchase land that is under committed acquisition, it will be impossible for you to perfect your land title and you’ll only be occupying the land until the government comes to kick you out.

Global Acquisition

Lands that are under “general acquisition” or “global acquisition” can later be confirmed ‘free’ or ‘committed’ as the case may be. A land under general acquisition can become free by a process called excision. Excision is a process whereby the government releases a portion of an expanse of land that is not committed. If a parcel of land that was formerly under acquisition becomes excised; it is then considered free and becomes gazetted.

The gazette then becomes the title on the land and such land is safe to buy because a proper title can be processed on the land. A second case where lands under general acquisition can be released is if an individual purchases land that was under acquisition without going through an excision process. Such lands can go through another process called “ratification” or “regularization” in which the landowner pays the government for the land to be ratified or regularized. The only condition, in this case, is that the land in question must not fall within a committed area and that the purpose for which the land was bought does not disrupt the original plan of the state. Conditions for ratification may differ from state to state.

Now that you understand the classification of land, let us look at the land titles and documents in Nigeria

Deed of Assignment

Most people have the title documents to their vehicles in safe places but fail to ask for the deed of assignment to their properties which is several times more valuable than cars. A deed of assignment is one of the land titles and documents in Nigeria and it is the transactional document drawn up by a real estate attorney between the current title holder for a particular property and the new buyer.

In real estate property transactions, a deed of assignment is a legal document that transfers the interest of the owner of that interest to the person to whom it is assigned, the assignee. When ownership is transferred, the deed of assignment shows the new legal owner of the property. The deed contains very pertinent information for a real estate transaction. It spells out the date the ownership of the property transfers from one party to the other. The deed also gives a specific description of the property that is included in the transfer of ownership.

It is very compulsory and mandatory for a deed of assignment to be recorded at the appropriate land registry to show legal evidence as to the exchange of ownership in any land/landed property transaction in order to make the general public and government aware of such exchange or transaction.


An Excision means basically taking a part from a whole and that part that has been excised will be recorded and documented in the official government gazette of that state. In other words, not having an excision means the land could be seized by the Government anytime without compensating you even if you bought it “Legitimately” from the Baale or the original dwellers on the land. 


A Gazette is another example of land titles and documents in Nigeria. It is an official record book where all special government details are spelled out, detailed, and recorded. A gazette will show the communities or villages that have been granted excision and the number of acres or hectares of land that the government has given to them. It is within those excised acres or hectares that the traditional family is entitled to sell its lands to the public and not anything outside those hectares of land given or excised to them.

A Gazette is a very powerful instrument the community owns and can replace a Certificate of Occupancy to grant title to the Villagers. It is one of the most important land titles and documents in Nigeria because it tells us a lot about the genuineness of a landed property. A community owning a gazette can only sell lands to an individual within those lands that have been excised to them and the community or family head of that land has the right to sign your documents for you if you purchase lands within those excised acres or hectares of land.

Relationship between Excision and Gazette

So for example, if in 1981, Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki were all part of one big community joined together called Oniru and it had no separation to know which area is called Ikoyi, Lekki, or V.I then, and it had an approximate total area estimate of 100,000 square metres and the Government was interested in that area and decided to take 70,000 square meters for itself for its own personal use as an Urban Area or for public purpose.

This acquisition was recorded in the official government publication which is Gazette and it is also on record that the remaining 30,000 square metres (EXCISED PORTION) have been left alone for the traditional family to have and do with whatever it pleases them. This is the relationship between a land under acquisition, an excision, and a gazette. That is the reason having in-depth knowledge about land titles and documents in Nigeria will put you at the top of any real estate transaction you want to engage in.

Certificate of Occupancy

A Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) is issued by the government of a particular state to officially lease the land to you, the applicant, for 99 yrs. All lands belong to the Government.

The first person on virgin land that has neither been occupied by another person nor under acquisition by the Government is entitled to get a Certificate of Occupancy on that land. If that person with the C of O decides to sell his land to another person after so many years, that person must now obtain the Consent of the Governor before that transaction can be deemed legal in the eyes of the Government. If the new buyer now decides to sell the land again to a third owner in the future, that third owner must also obtain a new Consent of the Governor before that transaction can be deemed legal in the eyes of the government and the process continues every time the property changes hands to a new buyer.

The Governor has the right to grant consent to any transaction which has not contravene the law of the land and if the consent has been obtained fraudulently, the Governor is entitled to revoke such consent immediately. It is very important for a purchaser of land to perfect his or her document by obtaining a Governor’s consent so as to have a complete rest of mind.

You should try as much as possible to get a Governor’s Consent for all your genuine lands so as to eliminate Omoniles’ problem completely and live a life devoid of their troubles.

Survey Plan

A Survey plan is a document that measures the boundary of a parcel of land to give an accurate measurement and description of that land. The people that handle survey issues are Surveyors and they are regulated by the office of the Surveyor-General. A survey plan must contain the following information:

Here are some of the things to keep in mind when getting a Survey Plan 

  • Make sure that the surveyor is licensed by the Surveyor-General of Nigeria.
  • Get multiple quotes from different surveyors.
  • Ensure that the survey plan is accurate and up-to-date.
  • Get the survey plan approved by the Surveyor-General.

Frequently Asked Questions about Land Titles and Documents

Which document(s) should I prepare when I want to buy a land that already has a Certificate of Occupancy?

You should get Governor's Consent and also get a Deed of Assignment to transfer the ownership right to you.

Is a land purchase receipt enough when I buy a land?

NO! The Deed of Assignment must be signed by the seller and the buyer.

What is the difference between Excision and Gazette?

Excision is carried out by the government to separate committed land from free land. The excision process is then recorded in a journal called “Gazette”.


Having learnt about various land titles and documents, including the meaning of general acquisition and committed acquisition. This post also highlighted other information you should look out for before acquiring landed properties. We believe you will make conscious efforts to confirm the authenticity of the property before making payment.


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  2. Sizes and Measurements of Land in Nigeria
  3. Before You Buy Land in Epe
  4. Relationship between Approved Building Plan and Registered Survey