Under the present legal regime, individuals can not own land, the only interest individuals can have in land is right of occupancy. Right of occupancy may be statutory or customary depending on the lex situs of the land in question. Under S.5 (1), the Governor can grant statutory right of occupancy to individuals in respect of land in urban area and issue certificate of occupancy as evidence of the grant, while the local government has power under S.6 (1) to grant customary right of occupancy in respect of land in non – urban areas.

The question now arises as to what happens to the title of an “owner” of a land after the promulgation of the Act? S.34 (2) of the Act provides that where the land is in an urban area and in developed state, the holder shall be allowed to hold such land as if he was a holder of a statutory right of occupancy granted by the Governor and thus, he becomes a “Deemed Holder” of right of occupancy. A Deemed Holder is defined in Yakubu v Abioye as the person entitled to a right of occupancy and includes the beneficiary of the deemed right of occupancy.

On the other hand, if the land is in an urban area and undeveloped, the Act provides that a plot or portion thereof should be given to the holder. And where the holder has several undeveloped plots in an urban area, the holder should be given half (1/3) an hectare out of his total holding cooperation or any other body (whether cooperate or unincorporated) or any company wholly owned by the Federal Government, like the federal government, any such agency retains and holds the absolute and beneficial ownership of all lands, whether located in Nigeria, vested in the agency as at the commencement of the Land Use Act, whether such lands are developed or undeveloped and whether occupied or unoccupied.

Examples of such lands are; lands the ownership of which had been transferred, granted or donated to the agency by any government or organization, or which the agency itself had otherwise acquired or purchased. Again S. 49 (1) of the Act provides that nothing in the Act shall affect the title of the agency in such lands.
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