WHY TITLE DOCUMENTS ARE KEY TO SAFELY BUYING OMOONILE LAND!
One of the issues that has come to characterize the purchase of Land from Traditional Land Owners (Omoonile) in the city of Lagos, is their tendency to resell a land that has already been sold to someone else. In many cases, the first buyer had failed to take physical possession of the property and has left the land unattended to for a long time. On many occasions, we have all come across these kind of stories either personally or heard about them from either a family member, friend or colleague with many forfeiting the land to quietly count their losses. In this piece, we will be looking atwhy getting all necessary title documents are to key to safely buying land from Omoonile in a city like Lagos where such transactions are now rampantly fraught with fraud and dubious conducts.
LETTER FROM MY MAIL BOX
Six months ago I bought a land from a well-known family in the Ibeju-Lekki axis of Lagos State. About a week ago, someone called me from the area to hint me that someone has already encroached on the land and in fact is claiming full ownership of the said land. The encroacher’s claim is that some members of the same family that sold the land to me sold it to him and that they gave him all the necessary documents to claim ownership of the said land. He is also claiming that he actually bought the land 9months ago and had only travelled out of the country. This trespasser has started development on the land. I invested my hard earned earnings on this land and I am on the verge of losing it. Kindly advise me on what to do sir.
Segun Bankole from Ketu
Before you take that matter up with the police or attempt to go to court that your land has been trespassed upon, you must first check yourself and the documents you possess as regards the proof of ownership in your possession to know whether you the right documents to aid your case or show that you have indeed bought the land genuinely from the said family. Here are a number of documents that will aid your case as you attempt to seek redress and claim back your land.
An Omonile Family Receipt from the accredited Family Head and witnessed by both the Family Secretary and Principal Member stating their family name and the date the land was bought including the location of the plot of land, amount and known family address.
A Duly Signed Deed of Assignment showing the parties to the Agreement, the Family Members who sold the piece of land to you which must include the Family Members who sold the land to you which must include the Family Head, Secretary and Principal witness and it must be duly stamped.
A Valid Survey Plan showing all the Beacon Numbers, the Survey Plan Number, the name of the Surveyor who surveyed it, the Year it was Surveyed including proof of Lodgment of the Red Copy at the Survey-General’s office.
Mode of Payment both through a Bank Check or Draft and including witness to the Transaction.
This is the Position of the Law that was established in The Supreme Court Case between NWOKOROBIA V NWOGU IN 2009 where it was stated that one of the ways to prove ownership of title to land is by Production of Documents of Title.What this means is that for you to prove that you have a better title over the person claiming ownership of the same land, you must have a lot of Documents to boost your claim of Ownership of that land better than the other person.
HERE IS A TRUE STORY FROM A REAL ESTATE LAWYER
I had assisted a client to buy 2 plots in Ibeju-Lekki sometime last year owned by a particular Omonile family branch. They were the toughest I have ever encountered. Over the years they had sold lands to various people and issued them only family receipt and nothing more. They were so ignorant about their lands that they didn’t even know their lands had a Government Excision.Anyway, apart from the receipt, they issued no other form of documents to back up the Buyer’s claim and even a Survey plan wasn’t something they recommended. They would normally demarcate lands using Bamboo sticks to show which land they sold and the ones separated. I fought with them for weeks with the aim of educating them that apart from the Family Receipt, they should acknowledge a proof of receipt of the money via a Bank Draft. My demands caused some trouble because they were used to collecting millions of Naira in cash so they could share the money immediately amongst themselves. Using a Bank was a taboo and I stood my ground for them to accept payment via a bank draft and acknowledge it.
Also I finally forced them to sign a Deed of Assignment. In fact this one was akin to the Iraq war. They refused wholesomely because they weren’t used to such protocols. They abused and rained insults on me as an ‘ALAKOWE LAWYER, LAWYER TOO GOOD, MR PROTOCOL ETC’ I wasn’t deterred and made sure I finally had my way and the client eventually got all the documents he needed. They collected another N100k for the signing of the documents and the client complained bitterly about that extra N100k and that i should have just taken the receipt and walked away.
Little did he know one year after that the ‘LAWYER TOO GOOD’ stubbornness of mine will come to assist him. When another person came from nowhere to lay claim to his own land saying that’s where the Omoniles gave him, he could only produce a receipt showing payment for one plot of land.That one plot was not described or defined in any way and he couldn’t trace the exact person who signed the receipt for him and when we got to the police station, we tendered our Deed of Assignment from the family directly, the Survey Plan showing the exact specification and location of the land, a signed copy of the acknowledgement of money and official receipt including a copy of the Excision tracing the land to it and counter signed by the Cabinet Office at Alausa plus a picture of the Family receiving money and signing the documents. The other party was weak and kept on studying our documents till he gave up and promised to come back to arrest all the family members if they didn’t return his money.
What killed the other party’s claim to that land was his inabilityto produce Documents to title. If he had all his documents intact and was as thorough as me, he won’t have had this problem. In summary there is no gainsaying that it is extremely important that as you consummate a landed property transaction from Omoonile, you get all your documents intact so as to aid your case tomorrow in case there is any dispute on your land. There is no overlooking anything.