Has the Governor revoked your right of occupancy on that land?
Written by H. O. EZE, ESQ.
It is important to note in limine that revocation of Right of occupancy is one of the most drastic and autocratic powers ever invested in a public functionary in Nigeria.
It is the automatic process of expropriating the land of a holder or occupiers by the governor which has the effect of extinguishing the right of occupancy in favour of such holder or occupier on the land.
All holders of right of occupancy whether customary or statutory, whether deemed or actually granted by the state, enjoy their rights, subject to their inherent revocability at anytime within the provisions of the Land Use Act.
Despite the fact that the Constitution guarantees the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria, the Land Use in it’s Section. 28 has clothed the governor of a state with the powers to revoke such right for public purposes though subjects to the payment of compensation as set out in section 29 of the same Act.
It is unlawful for the Governor to revoke individual rights on land and and give such to private individuals or company, however revocation done by the Governor to acquire compulsorily the property of a citizen for the government’s own commercial purpose or for the use by another private entity which the government has interest on may be morally unpalatable but not for that reason unlawful. Section 51(1) (a) & (b) of the Land Use Act.
The Apex court, in the case of Adamawa State Min.,Land & Survey Vs. Salisu (2021) 2 NWLR PT. 1759 P. 1 and also Nigerian Telecommunication Ltd Vs. Chief M. O. Ogunbiyi (1992) 7 NWLR Pt. 255, the court made it clear that the notice of revocation must be served on the occupier, as the absence of such notice served personally on the holder will render such purported revocation invalid. It is only when the holder is evading personal personal service of notice that service can be effected by substituted means.
Therefore, failure to serve revocation notices on holders and occupiers renders such revocation void.
It is proper that the state in excercising the power of revocation over a right of occupancy must set out vividly the reasons which prompts it’s action.
On whether the Local Government has the powers to revoke rights of occupancy.
We answer this question in the negative. This is because a careful consideration of the Constitution and the Land Use Act clearly shows that with the exception of all land belonging to the federal Government or it’s agencies, all other land in the state is vested in the Governor of the state, with non to the Local Government.
It is explicit upon the provisions of the Land Use Act and the Constitution that the local Government does not have any right of ownership over any land in the state.
The right of the Local Government under Section 6 of the Land Use Act was castrated by it’s lack of power of revocation which in law clears the right existing on land for it’s entry and user.
Sometimes we read notices of revocation published by some Local Government, such notices or publications are illegal and ultra-vires the powers of the Local Government and will suffer the faith of judicial invalidity once challenged.
Contact us for guidance and clarifications.
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