Proof of Land Ownership in Nigeria

Proof of Land Ownership in Nigeria

August 30, 2022

Since the beginning of time, Land has always been a source of wealth for its owners. Owning one elevated your status in your community or society. Land can be used for farming purposes to generate more wealth, it can be used to accommodate you and your family or it could be rented out to other people.

Ownership of land connotes the rights to exclusive possession and unfettered access to it.

Due to its significance, it has always been a highly coveted asset. It has been the source of disputes and communal clashes to date making the ability to prove the ownership of a piece of land very crucial especially when you want to purchase a property for the first time.

Due to challenges that arise from land grabbers commonly called “Omo-Onile” where they sell a piece of land to several people, it is important to know what kind of documents can help in this case. See our post on method of property valuation in Nigeria

In this article, you will discover the important documents needed during a real estate transaction.

Important Documents For Proof of Land Ownership

It is important to note that these documents do not replace one another. They are equally important.

  1. Deed of Assignment
  2. Certificate of Occupancy: C of O
  3. Survey Plan
  4. Excision
  5. Receipt
  6. Governor’s Consent


  1. Deed of Assignment: A Deed of Assignment is an essential legal land document for recording the sale of land. In addition, it transfers interest and title in the real estate property from one party to another, starting from the commencement date stated in the document.
  2. Certificate of Occupancy: The C of O is one of the most important documents in a real estate transaction. It is provided by the state government and it verifies the ownership of the property or land in question.
  3. Survey Plan: A survey plan is another important real estate document that gives accurate details of the measurement of the land and other important descriptions such as the location, owner’s name, etc.
  4. Land Excision: The process of releasing land to indigenous people or settlers is known as land excision. If isn’t done before you purchase the land, you will still be required to do it down the line because it is a form of compensation to the original landowners.
  5. Receipt: In real estate transactions, a receipt indicates that the seller has received the purchase price from the buyer after the property has been sold.
  6. Governor’s Consent: This document shows the consent obtained from the government on a land transaction through his signature. Without it, the transaction is deemed illegal.

According to the court of appeal, in cases of dispute, these are methods to prove your ownership of the land.

  • Through traditional historical evidence
  • By providing the documents of title
  • Evidence of ownership and possession over an adequate period of time
  • Proving possession of adjacent and connected land in circumstances that make it probable that the owner of such adjacent and connected land owns the land in dispute

Tips To Consider Before Purchasing Land

  • Ensure you purchase land or properties from a reputable real estate company with a good track record
  • Do your research and understand what the essential documents are and what they look like
  • The documents associated with the real estate transaction should be reviewed by your lawyer