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Registration of Title to Land at Abuja Geographic Information System, Nigeria

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Registration of Title to Land at Abuja Geographic Information System, Nigeria

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The Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Abuja, Nigeria’s capital is gradually becoming a renowned city in Africa. In recent times, there has been an influx of people into the city and its real estate development and construction sectors are developing at a tremendous pace.

Residential estates are springing up every day to provide accommodation for new entrants into the city.

The on-going partnership between the Federal Government and private persons towards developing strategic projects and areas in the city is a welcome development. The land registry; Abuja Geographic Information System (AGIS) was created to dictate and curb land racketeering and other fraudulent practices in relation to land in the FCT as well as provide a modern world-class system of registration of title to land.

AGIS registers Power of Attorney over undeveloped portions of land within Abuja whilst a Deed of Assignment is registered to indicate the transfer of title in a developed portion of land within the FCT. Under the AGISregime, both Power of Attorney and Deed of Assignment cannot be registered simultaneously on a single portion of land. Where there is a change of ownership of land in the FCT, the new owner either files a Power of Attorney if the land is undeveloped or a Deed of Assignment if the land is developed.

Again, except in special circumstances, AGIS only issues Statutory Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) on a land once. In order for a subsequent owner who acquires title from the C of O holder to register his title, a Deed of Assignment will be registered at AGIS. It is common for a file at AGIS to contain a C of O and as many Deeds of Assignment depending on how many times the land has been assigned to subsequent owners who register their title at AGIS.

A C of O is a mere prima facie proof of ownership of a portion of land. The ownership of a person with a C of O may be rebutted by a person with a better title over the land. A duly registered Deed of Assignment will achieve the same purpose as a C of O and even more becauseit helps third parties and AGIS officials to easily trace the subsequent owner’s root of title over the land.

Besides, where a portion of land contains several Plots, a subsequent owner of the portion of land must take steps to register his title on the individual Plots that make up the portion of land. This is because the Plots in the portion of land havedifferent file number and documentations at AGIS. As such registration of title in one of the Plots does not translate to registration of title over the other Plots in the portion of land.

However, after registration of title over the entire Plots in the portion of land, the subsequent owner may apply for the Plots in the portion of land to be consolidated. In such an instance, the individual C of O of the Plots will be withdrawn and cancelled and a single C of O issue for the entire Plots.

In a circumstance where the allotment to a first allotee is wrongly re-allotted to a third party, the first allotee may either;

(a) Apply to the Director of Land and follow up administratively for the subsequent allotment to be cancelled.

(b) Commence a suit in Court against the Minister of the FCT and the subsequent allotee for the subsequent allotment to be cancelled.

(c) Apply to the Director of Land for a fresh allotment of another land in light of the land that was wrongly allotted to a third party.

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