The Land Use Act Of 1978; Appraisal, Problems And Prospects

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The Land Use Act Of 1978; Appraisal, Problems And Prospects


Abstract


From time immemorial through the period of agriculture to the period of industrial development, land has remained the most valuable property in the life of man and his development. It is a source of wealth to those who have it and the mother of all properties. In other words, virtually all the basic needs of human existence are land dependent. In view of the importance and usefulness of land to man and his development as well as the development of his society, every person generally desires to acquire and own a portion of land to achieve the various ends for which the land is meant. Therefore, to make land in Nigeria available to all and to ensure that land is acquired and put to a proper use for the needed development, governments during and after colonial period enacted laws to govern the use or administration of land in Nigeria.

Before the arrival of the colonial masters, there were customary laws which governed the administration of land in Nigeria. These customary laws varied from one locality to another because of the differences in customs of the people. This accounted for the multiplicity of land laws in Nigeria prior to the promulgation of the Land Use Act of 1978. These laws were applied in each region to regulate land in the region.

Notwithstanding the existence of laws regulating land, the problems of land tenure and land administration persisted both in the Northern and Southern Nigeria. There were new problems such as land racketeering and speculations. Exorbitant compensations were demanded by landowners whenever the government acquired land for development. Thus, acquisition of land by government or individuals was becoming almost impossible in Nigeria. In fact, one of the major factors that was said to be a stumbling block against efficient implementation of the Second Development Plan 1975-1980, was lack of land for development project. To break this barrier and monopolies of landlords, the Federal Military Government set up some panels to consider how best to solve the problems associated with land tenure and administration in Nigeria. The report of one of these panels i.e., the Land Use Panel of 1977 eventually formed the basis of the Land Use Act No. 6 of 1978.

The purpose of this essay therefore, is to critically examine the Land Use Act of 1978 to see the extent to which it has enhanced the administration of land in Nigeria. In this connection, reforms and innovations introduced by the Act to improve the administration of land are critically examined. Bearing in mind that every being has its scar, the Act is not without shortcomings. In this regard, this study further beams its search lights in figuring out the inherent problems of the Act. Finally, this work makes recommendations on how to improve the Act in view of the recent proposal by Government to review the Act.


Chapter One


Introduction

1.1 Background of the Study

The importance of land to man on earth through all ages can hardly be overemphasized. Land, though represents only about two-fifth of the earth’s surface, it provides a platform on which man’s activities are predicated. It is however ironical that while the world population increases, the land in supply appears to be receding. Hence land is never thought to be sufficiently available to meet the need of man in a society(Chikare,2014). The ownership of land is jealously guarded against. Wars are fought, territories conquered to assert and preserve the ownership of land. The rift between Nigeria and Cameroon over Bakassi Peninsula, wars between Ife and Modakeke and that between Erinle and Offa attest to the above claim. For few available land to be equitably administered among the people and be maximally utilized there is need for a good land policy to be put in place for effective control and management of land in order to witness the desired development in the society. Prior to 29th March, 19781 when the Land Use Act was enacted, there were land laws Chikare,2014 which governed land tenure systems in Nigeria before, during and after the advent of the

The Land Use Act No. 6 March 29, Cap L5. LFN 2004

These pre-existing land laws include-customary, received English land laws and the Land Tenure Law colonial masters.

These laws continued to be in operation until they were found to be defective because despite their existence, the problems of land tenure persisted in Nigeria. One the most serious of these problems was the difficulty in acquiring land by the government in major urban centres for national development because of land speculations, racketeering and high cost of compensation usually demanded by the land owners whenever government acquired land to execute its projects. Against this background, the Federal Government in a deliberate effort to unify land tenure, streamline and simplify ownership of land in Nigeria, set up the Land Use Panel in 1977 4 with certain terms of reference. The recommendations of this panel were particularly related to the land tenure system in the Southern States. The recommendations were studied and adopted by government which promulgated the Land Use Act, 19785.

This study is carried out against the background of the Land Use Act to evaluate it in the light of its laudable objectives to see whether land is better managed and controlled under the Act. It also points out the inherent problems of the Act which range from interpretation to practical implementation of its provisions. This essay also considers the The Public Land (Miscellaneous) Decree, 1976 which provided for the amount of compensation throughout the whole country. But it has been repealed by the Land Use Act 1978

The Land Use Panel set up on the 16th April 1977 headed by Justice Chike Idigbo 5 Ibid 3 prospects of the Act.


1.2 Statement of the Problem

While land is the primary asset of the rural poor, the LUA has reportedly failed to meet its objectives and is said to have caused many distortions to the land rights and access to land of Nigerians. Omotola,1985 The resulting tenure insecurity impacts negatively on the productivity of the land. The poor, marginalized and vulnerable groups of the rural areas in Nigeria are most affected by tenure insecurity. They rely mainly on land as a means of livelihood and hence must have secure tenure free from the fear of being evicted or of their land being encroached upon. In a recent land dispute between Itaji-Ekiti and Ayede-Ekiti, three people were killed.Omotola,1985 This conflict was caused by trespassing and the breach of an existing court judgement by the Ayede-Ekiti. This would not have happened if their land rights had been recognized, recorded and respected. The residents of Itaji Ekiti are facing tenure insecurity as a result of land conflicts. Considering the triple indicators of tenure security Omotola, 1985. legitimacy, legality and certainty – it appears that there is uncertainty in land rights.(Omotola, 1985) This research draws a distinction between the failure of the state to provide legislation that secures customary land tenure (de jure security), and customary laws and practices that provide de facto tenure security.


1.3 Objective of the Study

The importance of land to man, its immense contributions to national development and the yearning for efficacious land legislation has led to a careful and deliberate choice of this topic with the following objectives in view:

  1. To assess the effectiveness or otherwise of the management of land under the Land Use Act6.
  2. To make useful recommendations on how to improve upon the Act, particularly its provisions that seem most unclear and controversial.
  3. To make substantial contributions to our knowledge of land law in general and the Land Use Act in particular.

1.4 Focus of the Study

The study particularly appraises the Land Use Act of 1978, concentrating on its problems and prospects. Therefore, a holistic study of this Act is done.


1.5 Scope of the Study

The enormity of the subject matter has led to the selection of some aspects of our land laws in Nigeria. In general, reference is made to virtually all our land and property laws which were in existence before the enactment of the Act in 1978. However, particular attention is given to the Land Use Act, 1978.


1.6 Methodology

The study is more analytical than descriptive. An analysis of the evaluation of the problems of the Act are embarked upon in order to achieve the objectives of this study. The information relied on for these works are sourced from primary and secondary sources. In this connection, the Land Use Act No. 6 of 1978, Land Tenure Law of 1962, Public Land Acquisition Act10, the Nigerian Constitutions11 among others serve as major primary source. The secondary source include-materials on the internet, books, essays, journals and articles published on the subject matter together with the opinions of the courts in judicial decisions. Information is also sourced from the libraries of other institutions like the University Of Ibadan, Nigeria Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of Lagos. Many law chambers were also visited to gather information through personal interaction with Lawyers in those chambers.


1.7 Organization of the Study

To achieve the purpose of this research. The study is divided into five inter-connected chapters, ranging from chapter one to five.

In this chapter one the researcher has been able to give an introduction to the work, state the problem that necessitate this study, outline the questions this work seek to answer as well as the objectives it hopes to achieve.

The scope and limitations of this study were outlined as well as the methodology that was used for the study.

Chapter two deals with Land Use Act Of 1978, Objectives Of The Land Use Act, Achieving The Objectives Of The Act etc. Chapter three discuss the Impact Of The Land Use Act On Economic Development In Nigeria,Land Use Act And

The Place Of The Customary Ownership Of Land, The Nationalization School Of Thought etc. Chapter four delves into the land use a ct and tenure security, the aspect of land administration system etc. while chapter five deals with the summary, recommendations and conclusion


Chapter Five


Summary, Conclusion and Recommendation

5.1 Summary

In this study, our focus was on the land use act of 1978:an appraisal of the problems and prospects. The study specifically was aimed at highlighting the effectiveness or otherwise of the management of land under the Land Use Act6. the study also make useful recommendations on how to improve upon the Act, particularly its provisions that seem most unclear and controversial. Lastly, the study make substantial contributions to our knowledge of land law in general and the Land Use Act in particular.


5.2 Conclusion

Based on the finding of this study, the following conclusions were made:

From time immemorial land has remained the most valuable property in the life of man and his development. It is a source of wealth to those who acquire it and all the basic needs of human existence are land dependent. The Land Use Act, at the time of its enactment, was hailed as a revolutionary law that would propel Nigeria into the path of economic prosperity. It effectively abrogated absolute ownership or freehold interests on land by the community, the family and the individual and created same in favour of government to hold in trust for the use of all Nigerians. Unfortunately, the optimism that heralded the Act gradually and steadily faded into disillusionment as its lofty aims turned out to be defeated due to inherent defects and contradictions in the Act on the one hand, and institutional failure and lack of political will to implement the Act firmly and equitably on the other hand.


5.3 Recommendation

Based on the responses obtained, the researcher proffers the following recommendations:

  1. It is recommended that the LUA be reviewed, particularly in the areas examined in this study. This will also include considering the local context in which the law will be applicable. The primary aim of the new land policy should be to ensure tenure security for all land rights-holders in Nigeria.
  2. Upon the review of the LUA, it is essential that the implementation procedures be included as regulations in the Act.
  3. The various sections of the Act need a holistic review by a group of people consisting of academics, land professionals and civil servants. The land policy needs to be reviewed so that it may achieve the sustainable development goals of ensuring tenure security for the rural poor.
  4. In developing a pro-poor land administration system, it is recommended that the government should not lay emphasis on the formal LAS alone but should holistically consider alternative approaches to the land registration system. The approach of “delimitation” and “demarcation” in Mozambique would be a useful model to consider.
  5. As Nigeria comprises diverse cultures, it is questioned whether a single land policy is appropriate to serve the entire country. It is advocated that land policy should consider the local situation of the rural poor. Hence the enactment of land laws should be based on pro-poor policies. A single land law with different statutes for different cultures is advocated.
  6. Compulsory acquisition under the LUA should be subjected to the oversight of a land commission to avoid the governor using executive power against the opposition party. An example of such malpractice is the current “National Grazing Reserve Bill 2016”, which sought to acquire land indiscriminately in the interest of a particular group of people.

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