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4.2 Land Use Act of 1978 and Resettlement Procedures - Synopsis of facts for mile 12 to ikorodu brt extension rap

4.2 Land Use Act of 1978 and Resettlement Procedures


The Land Use Act Cap 202, 1990 Laws of the Federation of Nigeria is the key Legislation that has direct relevance to the project. Relevant Sections of these laws as may relate to this Project with respect to land ownership and property rights, resettlement and compensation are summarised in this section.

The Land Use Act is the applicable law regarding ownership, transfer, acquisition and all such dealings on Land. The provisions of the Act vest every Parcel of Land in every State of the Federation in the Executive Governor of the State. He holds such parcel of land in trust for the people and government of the State. The Act categorized the land in a state to urban and non-urban or local areas. The administration of the urban land is vested in the Governor, while the later is vested in the Local Government Councils. At any rate, all land irrespective of the category belongs to the State while individuals only enjoy a right of occupancy as contained in the certificate of occupancy, or where the grants are “deemed”.

The concept of ownership of land as known in the western context is varied by the Act. The Governor administers the land for the common good and benefits of all Nigerians. The law makes it lawful for the Governor to grant statutory rights of occupancy for all purposes; grant easements appurtenant to statutory rights of occupancy and to demand rent. The Statutory rights of Occupancy are for a definite time (the limit is 99 years) and may be granted subject to the terms of any contract made between the state Governor and the Holder.

The Local Government Councils may grant customary rights of Occupancy for agricultural (including grazing and ancillary activities), residential and other purposes. But the limit of such grant is 500 hectares for agricultural purpose and 5,000 for grazing except with the consent of the Governor. The local Government, under the Act is allowed to enter, use and occupy for public purposes any land within its jurisdiction that does not fall within an area compulsorily acquired by the Government of the Federation or of relevant State; or subject to any laws relating to minerals or mineral oils.

The State is required to establish an administrative system for the revocation of the rights of occupancy, and payment of compensation for the affected parties. So, the Land Use Act provides for the establishment of a Land Use and Allocation Committee in each State that determines disputes as to compensation payable for improvements on the land. (Section 2 (2) (c)

In addition, each State is required to set up a Land Allocation Advisory Committee, to advise the Local Government on matters related to the management of land. The holder or occupier of such revoked land is to be entitled to the value of the unexhausted development as at the date of revocation. (Section 6) (5). Where land subject to customary right of Occupancy and used for agricultural purposes is revoked under the Land Use Act, the local government can allocate alternative land for the same purpose (section 6) (6).

If Local Government refuses or neglects within a reasonable time to pay compensation to a holder or occupier, the Governor may proceed to effect assessment under section 29 and direct the Local Government to pay the amount of such compensation to the holder or occupier. (Section 6) (7).

Where a right of occupancy is revoked on the ground either that the land is required by the Local, State or Federal Government for public purpose or for the extraction of building materials, the holder and the occupier shall be entitled to compensation for the value at the date of revocation of their unexhausted improvements. Unexhausted improvement has been defined by the Act as:

anything of any quality permanently attached to the land directly resulting from the expenditure of capital or labour by any occupier or any person acting on his behalf, and increasing the productive capacity the utility or the amenity thereof and includes buildings plantations of long-lived crops or trees, fencing walls, roads and irrigation or reclamation works, but does not include the result of ordinary cultivation other than growing produce.

Developed Land

is also defined in the generous manner under

Section 50(1)

as follows: developed land means land where there exists any physical improvement in the nature of road development services, water, electricity, drainage, building, structure or such improvements that may enhance the value of the land for industrial, agricultural or residential purposes.

It follows from the foregoing that compensation is not payable on vacant land on which there exist no physical improvements resulting from the expenditure of capital or labour. The compensation payable is the estimated value of the unexhausted improvements at the date of revocation.

Payment of such compensation to the holder and the occupier as suggested by the Act is confusing. Does it refer to holder in physical occupation of the land or two different persons entitled to compensation perhaps in equal shares? The correct view appears to follow from the general tenor of the Act. First, the presumption is more likely to be the owner of such unexhausted improvements. Secondly, the provision of

section 6(5)

of the Act, which makes compensation payable to the holder and the occupier according to their respective interests, gives a pre-emptory directive as to who shall be entitled to what.

Again the Act provides in

section 30

that where there arises any dispute arises as to the amount of compensation calculated in accordance with the provisions of

section 29,

such dispute shall be referred to the appropriate Land Use and Allocation Committee. It is clear from

section 47 (2)

of the Act that no further appeal will lie from the decision of such a committee. If this is so, then the provision is not only retrospective but also conflicts with the fundamental principle of natural justice, which requires that a person shall not be a judge in his own cause. The Act must, in making this provision, have proceeded on the basis that the committee is a distinct body quite different from the Governor or the Local Government. It is submitted, however, that it will be difficult to persuade the public that this is so since the members of the committee are all appointees of the Governor.

Where a right of occupancy is revoked for public purposes within the state of the Federation; or on the ground of requirement of the land for the extraction of building materials, the quantum of compensation shall be as follows:

Where the right of occupancy revoked is in respect of a part of a larger portion of land, compensation shall be computed in respect of the whole land for an amount equal in rent, if any, paid by the occupier during the year in which the right of occupancy was revoked less a proportionate amount calculated in relation to the area not affected by the revocation; and any interest payable shall be assessed and computed in the like manner. Where there is any building installation or improvement or crops on the portion revoked, the quantum of compensation shall follow that outlined in paragraph (ii) above and any interest payable shall be computed in like manner.
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