Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola (SAN), has given detailed insight into the reasons behind the promulgation of the State’s Land Use Act (Title Document Registration) 2012, saying that it was to improve service in the administration of land in the state.
Fashola, who spoke at the stakeholders’ meeting on Land Use Act (Title Documentation) 2012, said the process of land administration in the state would be greatly enhanced by the operation of the Act, pointing out that it would also empower citizens of the state.
The governor said with the conversion of all land documents into an electronic format by his predecessor and the geographic mapping of all the land in the state by the present administration as well as the automation of the process, the stage was set to fast track all land transactions in the state for the prosperity of the residents.
He noted that as a legal practitioner, he has been on the side of providing service in land cases and now serves as a regulator by virtue of his office, hence his good knowledge of the subject.
He declared, “I have heard people say that the Land Use Act should be repealed. But my answer has always been that if there is any piece of legislation that has drawn a measure of clarity to a particular subject, it is the Land Use Act.
“Before the Land Use Act, there was the Land Tenure System in the North which was the precursor to the Land Use Act. In those days, many land cases dominated the attention of the courts.
“People engaged in all manners of violence over land. Government, at a time, saw the need for action and that was the precursor of the Land Use Act”, the Governor said.
Noting that all the sections of the Act have been interpreted by the Supreme Court, the governor said the decision to retain or dump such a wealth of documentation would be a choice to be made by allNigerians adding, “The problem is not the Land Use Act but the method of implementation.”
He said the state government has embarked on series of reforms, including the present Act, to eliminate the problem of implementation adding, “Many years ago, the only way to conduct research on land issues was to go to the land registry and open records and begin to search and that led to so many anomalies including mutilation and destruction of documents. My predecessor took a bold step by scanning all the documents and putting them in an electronic format.
“Now, at least, the originals of the documents are safe in the strong room while you can conduct your research on the screen. But we are not done yet because you still need to get there to conduct the search. We are very close to ensuring that if you have internet access, not only will you conduct your research from your office, you will pay from your desk”, the governor said.
Other innovations being undertaken by the government by way of reforms on land administration, Governor Fashola said, include Electronic Certificate of Occupancy which, according to him, would replace the Yellow paper “because the yellow paper is not as secure as we would like. So we are introducing a format that is more difficult to forge.
“We are also looking at the land rate. We see that there is a disconnect between the market realities and what we see with people. People are reluctant to disclose the cost of their land transactions because they want to do an all inclusive cost; 13 percent, 10 percent government charge and all that; we intend to bring all that down, but in doing so you also have a responsibility to disclose the cost of your property”, he told the gathering.
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