By Dotun Ibiwoye
AT last, Lagos has signed into law a bill to simplify procedures in land transactions.
While signing the bill last week, Governor Babatunde Fashola, noted that the initial Executive Order to reduce the cost of land transaction which produced the electronic Certificate of Occupancy, C of O, is part of the bulwark of the titles that comes with the new bill.
According to Fashola, developed countries thrive by the way they register and title land assets and the enabling law greatly enhanced the process of land registration such that a prospective land buyer would not need to see anybody but just go to the registry and know the status of the land.
Titled, “A Law to Consolidate All Laws Relating to Registration of Land in Lagos State”, the law seeks, according to the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Ade Ipaye, “to enable Lagosians have easy access to register their proprietary interest in land seamlessly”, among others.
The governor, on his part, said that it is the responsibility of the government to maintain a registry of titles to land that has the highest level of integrity and land registration helps to create the divisions of land registry.
The law, he said, would also strengthen the hand of Government in the administration of the Land Use Act adding that his administration has even started issuing certificate of title to farmers which, according to him, “would form part of the bulwark of titles that would come under the scope of these harmonized laws”.
The governor affirmed that the law was also necessary for access to loans by farmers who would be assisted through the law, adding that one of the reasons why farmers could not get small loans “in spite of all the work that has been done” was that banks tell them that they don’t have collateral although the farmers are sitting on land which is not in the structured form that the bank would take it from them.
“So you don’t need somebody to come and tell you the history of how the land evolved from 20 families and one owner, once you go to the registry you will see all the transactions there and your lawyer would be able to advise you whether to go on or not to go on, he said
“In our basic economics, land is a very important asset to capital formation, you can’t start a bank, you can’t start a business, you can’t farm; you can’t even extract crude oil without identifying a particular piece of land or oil well. So it’s the basics of capital formation, it’s the basics of prosperity; it’s the basics of economic well being and the basics for job.
“But once you have a reliable register and they say they have C of O, they can check and the banks can lend them money against that asset and anybody who wants to use that asset in a joint venture knows that it is a secure title”, the Governor said adding, “And this is again where the job of the registrar of titles is a very important job that must be done with the highest level and measure of integrity”.
“Automation and the use of technology are the defining issues here. Whereas in some other parts of the country the process produces only a dozen or so land permits or applications, we are doing thousands per day in Lagos. So those methods of response clearly would not take us there”.