By DAYO BENSON & BARTHOLOMEW MADUKWE
Lagos State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaye, has condemned the use of backdated or forged receipts or documents to apply for Certificate of Occupancy, saying that the government would commence full implementation of the Land Use Law in the state from July 31, 2013.
Speaking at a stakeholders’ meeting on Land Use Act (Title Documentation) Regulations 2012, held on Victoria Island, Ipaye pointed out that applicants who used backdated documents or forged receipts claim to be entitled to a statutory right of occupancy issued by the Governor and evidenced by a Certificate of Occupancy.
According to Ipaye: “Many applicants (both corporate and individual) applied for Certificate of Occupancy using receipts or other documents which are backdated or forged to create the impression that their transactions predated the Land Use Act in 1978.
“This practice constitutes criminal infraction of the Law as it is an offence to forge documents, punishable under section 363 of Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011; supply false information to public officials with intent to deceive, punishable under section 96 of Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.”
He noted that the Land Use Act made sufficient provisions to safeguard the interests of persons in whom land was vested immediately in 1978, adding that persons in whom land was vested immediately before the commencement of the Act are deemed to be holders of a right of occupancy granted by the Governor and their subsequent transactions in respect of the same land only require the Governor’s consent.
“There is therefore no need to falsify documents since the person is deemed to be the holder of a statutory right of occupancy issued by the Governor. Government recognizes the fact that many assignors or purchasers of interests in land, though in exclusive possession, do not hold properly executed Deeds on which Governor’s consent may be endorsed” he added.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice stressed that all post 1978 assignees of land in the state would be required to present properly executed Deeds of Assignment for Governor’s consent.
Also speaking at the event, the Executive Secretary of Lands Use and Allocation Committee, Aina Salami, said in the case of a person who immediately before the coming into force of the Act had vested rights in parcels of undeveloped land, such a person is only entitled to continue in the exercise of right over not more than half an hectare of such land.
“The promulgation of Land Use Act, Cap 15, Laws of the Federation 2004, introduced a uniform statutory regulation of ownership and control of land rights in the different states. In the case of undeveloped land, the holder is treated by the Act as if he was the holder of a statutory right of occupancy granted by the Governor.