Ownership And Possession Of Land In Nigeria Under Land Use Act 1978

Ownership And Possession Of Land In Nigeria Under Land Use Act 1978


Land is a natural resource which is physically fixed. It is the most fundamental basic resource around which our social structure revolves. Every activity requires the use of land and this makes land the most valuable asset of man.

There is an intimate relationship between man and land. Man has maintained a close contact with land which provides him with virtually all he needs for his sustenance. The survival of man depends on the availability of land and his ability to acquire and exploit it to satisfy his seemingly endless needs. This ability to acquire land is sometimes limited or hindered by social, legal, environmental and technological constraint both in the public and the private sectors of the economy.

For the fact that individuals, governments and organizations need land, there has been great demand for the acquisition, use and development of land and it has not been easy to meet this demand.

In the same vein, Real Estate Development and use of land are prompted primarily by the products and satisfaction that could be derived therefrom. The problem of real estate development in Nigeria started during the Colonial period and was inherited by the Post Colonial Nigerian Government. Inspite of the efforts of both the colonial and the post colonial governments to solve the problem of Real Estate Development in the country, they remained unresolved till date.

Government all through the ages has recognized that land is an indispensable resource in a nation’s economic and social development. Over the years, different communities have made enactments respecting how land should be owned, developed and managed. In other words the use to which land should be put, the nature and extent of development to be carried out thereon and indeed all decisions affecting land are dictated by the land laws of the country.

Property Development on the other hand is one of man’s most crucial needs, in that it represents man’s most tangible asset both to the private and the public investors. However before any development is carried out on a parcel of land, property rights must


first be exercisable over that piece of land. These property rights are defined by the existing land laws of the village, community or nation.

It must, therefore, be understood that the land law of any country is always intrinsically interwoven with the economic cum socio-political development of the community. In order words, the land cannot be divorced from the general history and development of any society.

Above all, the continued increase in the population of Nigeria, the desire for individual self-sustenance, increased economic activities and the inherent encumbrances in the customary land law obviously demanded a land reform policy that would refine if not abolish entirely these problematic aspects of the customary land tenure.

The Land Use Act of 1978 happened to be one of the legislations enacted in response to the yearnings and aspirations of most of the Nigerian people. This was greeted with ovation in Nigeria by the unthinking masses with high expectations that it will uplift Nigeria into one of the World’s Powers in Development. How much the Land Use Decree (Now Act) has gone in boosting development of the nation is yet to be seen. It is upon this background that this study seeks to find out the extent to which the Act has impacted on property development.



The Land Use Decree (Now Act) of 1978 was promulgated purportedly to enable Nigerians have quality access to land and to be able to enjoy not only the land itself but the natural fruits thereon. The fact however is that there is no certainty as to the extent to which the Act has affected property development in Enugu Urban.

The Act aimed at assisting in the acquisition of land by individuals for development of properties of all categories which will help in boosting the economy of the country. It seems however that the government’s promulgation of the Land Use Act has impacted negatively on the development of properties in the country as exemplified by the situation in Enugu the study area. This has resulted in the acute shortage of housing for various purposes, state of inertia in the property market, high rents in housing accommodation and several other social tensions.


The debut of Land Use Act destroyed security of title to land and the ease of acquisition. A landowner needs security for his use and enjoyment of the land and may also require to protect whatever dealing the desires to have on that land. It has become clear that the processes of accessing land presently characterized by procedural delays and red tapeism.


The aim of the study is to examine Ownership And Possession Of Land In Nigeria Under Land Use Act 1978

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