What is a Gazette?
A Gazette is the most bastardized word Land Sellers have peddled around to Purchasers and its the most confusing document that non-land experts have heard and know absolutely nothing about. They neither know what it looks like nor its perceived advantages or disadvantages.
Even why it is one of the most important document you must be connected to unless your home could be demolished in future for it not being associated with it. Now before we talk about what a Gazette is, we have to Know what an Excision is and how they are both connected.
How did Gazette use start?
BRIEF HISTORY OF A GAZETTE: Before the Land-Use Act in 1978 was enacted, Traditional families who had so much land power under their control benefited from taking pleasure over all the rights given to them as land owners. Because of this mega-power they wielded with land, they gave out lands to individuals under a tenancy system for them to use the land either for fishing or farming while they still maintained control over the portion of the land given to the individual.
It wasn’t until the creation of Lagos Executive Development Board in the 1950s that individuals where now able to acquire land from the board directly in exchange for a sum of money instead of going to meet the traditional families to obtain land.
This led to the Traditional Families now splitting their lands to keep some for the family use and others for sale to individuals directly to compete with the Lagos Executive Development.
This system still made the Traditional Families total top dogs in exercising exclusive rights with lands they chose to sell and the ones they chose to keep. This eventually led to the birth of land speculation in Nigeria because lands were very expensive to purchase and difficult to obtain.
What did the Gazette change?
Because of this and other ancillary reasons, it finally led to the promulgation of the Land Use Decree on the 28th of March, 1978 that vested all lands in every state of the Federation under the control of the State Governors. People could now directly obtain land from the Governor and the Governor could allocate land to the individual or Companies inquiring about land and issue certificate of occupancy to these people it has allocated land to.
The land use act coupled with other laws made it possible for the Governor who was now the owner of all lands in the state to actually have the power to Acquire more lands Compulsorily for its own public purpose to provide Amenities for the greater good of the citizens.
The Acquisition of land from the Family by the Governor who is now the custodian of all lands in the state was now empowered by the Land Use Act to take the general control and management of all URBAN land and any area designated as an Urban area by the Governor shall be published in an Official Government Record book known as the Gazette.
Any area, community or village the Governor designates as an Urban Area is an Acquired land and the rest of the land it has not Acquired may be given back to the community it was acquired from in the form of an Excision.
“An Excision means basically taking a part from a whole and that part that has been excised, will be recorded and documented in the official government gazette of that state.”
A typical example...
So for example if in 1981, Victoria Island, Ikoyi and Lekki were all part of one big Community joined together called Oniru and it had no separation to know which area is called ikoyi, lekki or V.I then and it has an approximate total area square meters estimate of 100,000 square meters.
The Government is interested in that area and decides to take 70,000 square meters for its self for its own personal use as an Urban Area or public purpose, it will record this acquisition in the official government gazette and also record that the remaining 30,000 square meters has been left alone for the traditional family to have and do with it whatever it pleases it to do.
This my friends is the sweet relationship between a land under acquisition, an excision and gazette. So now that we know that a Gazette is an Official record book where all special government details are spelt out, detailed and recorded, we would now focus on Special Gazettes that deal with Land purposes only and its features.
A gazette will show the communities or villages that have been granted excision and the number of acres or hectares of land that the government has given to them. It is within those excised acres or hectares that the traditional family is entitled to sell its lands to the public and not anything outside those hectares of land given or excised to them.
If they decide to sell anything outside the excised land, then that land is under acquisition by the government and it is a very bad land to buy
Special Features of a Gazette include the following:
1. The first page of a Gazette must have the following unless it is a dubious or fake Gazette
a. The Logo of the Country and the inscription of the title “ LAGOS STATE OF NIGERIA OFFICIAL GAZETTE”
b. Underneath it must have the Number, Volume, Page, Date and the Location it was signed into law e.g No 26 in pages 200 to 291, Volume 87 dated 14th of August 2011 and have the contents of the list of the Villages, Settlements and parcels of land excised back to the community.
2. The Inner pages will show the following:
a. The description of the Area or Village excised
b. The number of Acres or Hectares of land excised to the Village
c. Where the boundaries of the beacons start and stop
d. The page the description of the Village excised is.
A Gazette is a very powerful instrument the community owns and can replace a Certificate of Occupancy to grant title to the Villagers. A community owning a gazette can only sell lands to an individual within those lands that have been excised to them and the community or family head of that land has the right to sign your documents for you if you purchase lands within those excised acres or hectares of land.
If the government based on some reasons best known to them decides to revoke or acquire your land, you will be entitled to compensation as long as it’s within the Excised lands given to that community.
What to do?
The best way to know whether a land is under acquisition or has an excision that has been covered by a Gazette is to get a surveyor to chart the site and take it to the surveyor general’s office to do a land information to confirm whether it falls within the gazette and spell out which particular location it can be found.
Don’t be smart and assume that the land is within a gazette and purchase it without seeking professional help Through Omonile lawyer or a Surveyor. You will find yourself to blame and I wont feel sorry for you.
Also don’t listen to a Village or community elder or person who tries to convince you that the land they are selling is covered by a gazette. In most situations than none, they are always lying because they don’t know and they haven’t sought professional help to know if that land is under acquisition or not.
Some of them are dastard liars that know the land they are selling isn’t an Excised land but they still go ahead and pretend it is so as to sell you a defective land to abscond when the people from the land bureau approach you to demolish your house.