By Douglas Ogbankwa Esq.
Purchasing a land can be a thing of great joy, but if you are not careful, it could be a living nightmare!
The following are safeguards when purchasing a land in Nigeria:
1.Let a Lawyer be with you at the beginning of the Transaction. It makes the Land Speculators to do the right thing, from the beginning, knowing that a good lawyer will detect fraud or discrepancies from the start.
2.Never make payments and sign documents later, most times after making payments, the Vendors become evasive and elusive, knowing there is nothing to look on to.
- Never pay cash for land purchases ,do a bank transfer, issue a cheque or raise a draft to provide a trail of evidence.
4. Investigate title and ownership before purchase, don’t believe every information given to you by the Vendor, subject it to scrutiny.
- If they say the Vendor is abroad, insist on a Power of Attorney from the Vendor to a person here in Nigeria and go on line to verify the authenticity of the fact, by using social media channels to reach the Vendor.
6. Let the person who introduced you to the transaction sign as a witness for you.
7. Always put dates in your Deeds of Transfer or Assignment, an undated document has no probative value in Law-as per a ratio by the Supreme Court of Nigeria.
8. If the land document is registered, conduct a search at the Lands Registry to ascertain, if there had been a Transfer, if there was a Charge, Mortgage, Caveat or any kind of encumbrances whatsoever.
9. If the Owner of the land is dead, demand for a document conferring ownership on the Vendor, like Letters of Administration, Document of Sharing or Order from the Customary Court.
10. Take your documentation seriously ,do not patronize quacks or business centres, be guided that according to the Land Instrument Preparation Law, every document relating to land must be prepared by a legal practitioner, failure of which, what you have will be a worthless sheet of paper! Pay right now or you will pay more later.
- If you are not sure of the genuineness of the Land,pay Instalmentally,do some work to ascertain encumbrance or otherwise.
12. Do not allow the Vendor to rush you, while doing a land transaction ,being rushed is a red flag,that the land may not be genuine.
13. Always insist on a receipt for every payment made, to give you evidence of same.
13. Do a Survey Plan immediately after purchasing a land, and lodge it in the Lands Registry, to put on purchase on official records.
14. Do not buy a land and leave it fallow, make sure you have contact of people around the land to monitor it for you and to alert you against any trespass.
15. Make sure you have pictures and videos of the signing of the Land Documents,the children of the Vendor may feign ignorance of your transaction, if for any reason the Vendor dies.
16. Do not allow the Vendor to get a Lawyer for you, get your Lawyer that will protect your interest.
17. Make sure the community leaders are aware of your purchase of land in their c
Community, it makes fraud less likely and makes your purchase public knowledge.
18. Read through before signing a Land Document,every word is important and the Law only interprets your agreements and not your thoughts. “Pacta Sunt Servada “-Parties are bound by their Agreements.
19. You may require the Vendor to swear to an Affidavit of ownership,so if it turns out that he is not the Owner ,it becomes a Criminal issue of lying on Oath -Perjury.
- Buying a Land from an individual that is ascertained to be the Owner of the land,is likely to be more authentic than buying from the Community!Be more thorough ,when buying from the Community!
21. Ensure you make the Vendor to sign and receipt and indemnity for you and ensure every Deed of Transfer prepared for you have an indemnity clause.If the land is fake, the Matter becomes an automatic case of fraud.
(C) August 2016.