A Certificate of Occupancy is deemed one of the most important documents of a landowner in Nigeria. Issued by the government, it explicitly entails what the property can be used for whether for commercial, residential, or a blended use of these two.
According to the Land Use Act 1978, all lands in the state are vested in the Governor of the State who holds the same in trust for the benefit of the citizens. Thus, a person in Nigeria cannot “own” land but rather is conferred the right to occupy the same for a certain time.
At the same time, the Government reserves the right to seize any plot of land or property without a C of O at any time, without any compensation paid.
The C of O is a solid root of title and gives the owner sole right to the land thereby eliminating multiple ownership, which is a common land fraud.
Aside from this, obtaining a certificate of occupancy offers these benefits;
Means of Collateral
Obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy goes deeper than merely granting you landed properties, but can serve as a means of collateral to secure a loan from institutions whenever you require some financial aid to execute a particular project.
Having a certificate of ownership stands as a great chance of being adequately compensated in the event of any compulsory acquisition exercise embarked upon by the government (State and Federal) for the overriding benefits and/or interest of the citizens of the state or country. In the event of compulsory acquisition exercise, the appropriate government or agency involved will only compensate those people that have genuine documents on their affected land and landed properties upon presentation and scrutiny of its legitimacy.
Sense of Security
As the certificate of occupancy establishes your ownership status at the lands registry, court of law during disputes, financial and mortgage institutions, etc, it gives you a sense of security, as well. An instrument of security for the guidance and protection against theft, encroachment, or illegal transfer/alienation of your land without prior knowledge or consent.