Do you know the land titles available in Nigeria?

Different Types of Land Titles and Documents Available in Nigeria

Land titles and documents in Nigeria are essential considerations in purchasing land as they are vital in determining the property’s ownership and cost.

What are the differences between land titles and land documents in Nigeria? And which one should you go for first?


Types of Land Titles in Nigeria

Here are the different types of land titles in Nigeria:


1. Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)

A C of O is an official document issued by the State Government conferring the ownership title of the land to an individual, group of persons, or corporate organization. It is arguably the most important land document you can possess as it not only proves you’re the legitimate owner of the land but also prevents the government from infringing on it without adequate compensation.


You can only obtain a C of O directly from the state government through the state’s land registry when you’re buying land that is under government acquisition. However, if you’re buying from an individual, you must confirm that the person has a C of O or any other valid land ownership title. 


A C of O is issued once to the first person to purchase the land from the state government. Subsequent sales of the land will require a transfer of ownership title at the land registry, which would result in the buyer getting another document known as the Governor’s Consent.


2. Governor’s Consent

Before the ownership of land is transferred from an individual or corporate organization to another individual or organization, the state governor must approve it.


A Governor’s Consent is a document transferring the ownership title of the land to an individual or corporate entity with the state government’s approval. It proves that the state government is aware of the transfer of ownership and the property’s current owner. A Governor’s Consent is issued on land that already has a C of O and can be issued as many times as the ownership of the land changes hands.


3. Excision and Gazette

Excision is the return of ownership title of land from the government to the indigenous landowner. The official document issued during this transaction is known as the Gazette. This is one of the most crucial land titles as it gives you the right to apply for a C of O or Governor’s consent, granting you the freedom to use the land for any purpose for 99 years.


4. Grant of Probate and Letter of Administration

These documents confer ownership titles to a deceased person’s relatives or representatives. The relatives or representatives of the deceased person must obtain a Grant of Probate if the deceased left a Will. And those listed in the Will to inherit the land must be willing, capable, and available to act and take ownership of the property.


On the other hand, a Letter of Administration is a document used when a land or property owner dies without leaving a Will. In this case, the court issues a Letter of Administration to the deceased person’s suitable next of kin(s) – the spouse, children, parents, siblings, step-siblings, uncles, or aunts. The court follows a ranking system to determine who is more suitable to obtain property ownership.


Both the Grant of Probate and Letter of Administration are valid legal titles to the properties of a deceased person. Obtaining any of them confers full legal ownership to you.


5. Registered Court Judgment

Only a few people understand that a valid and registered court judgment on land is a valid land title. In fact, it is a superior title of ownership to the right of occupancy, deed of allocation, etc. It’s so powerful that such that even the government cannot revoke it.  


6. Right of Occupancy (R of O)

Right of Occupancy, or R of O, is a document issued by the government conferring temporary ownership title to an individual or entity. It gives the holder the right to occupy and use land for agricultural, residential, or commercial purposes for 99 years or less, pending when the government intends to revoke ownership. An R of O is a weaker land title than the C of O, as, unlike the C of O, the ownership rights can be revoked by the government without any compensation.


7. Freehold

Freehold is another type of land title popular in some areas in Nigeria, such as Epe, Lagos State. It refers to the absolute ownership of land without any limitations or conditions. Freehold lands are free from government interference, as the owner has absolute rights and control over them. The owner of a freehold can use the land for any purpose and transfer ownership at will.


What is the most important land document in Nigeria?

The certificate of occupancy (C of O) is the most important land document in Nigeria. This is because it proves the real owner of the land and protects the land from being revoked without compensation.


What title does the land have?

Before purchasing land in Nigeria, you must ensure that the land has one of these valid legal titles:


Certificate of Occupancy (C of O)

Governor’s consent

Excision and Gazette

Grant of probate and letter of administration

Registered court judgment  



Land titles and documents in Nigeria are essential considerations in purchasing land as they are vital in determining the property’s ownership and cost. You must understand the title of the land you’re buying, as it can save you from many legal consequences. Hopefully, this article has provided a useful guide to helping you buy a piece of land free from many encumbrances.


Culled from Seike Igbiriki


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