S.1 of the Land Use Act, provides “subject to the provision of this Act, all lands comprised in the territory of each state in the federation are hereby vested in the Governor of the state and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefits of all Nigerians in accordance with the provision of this Act”.

The correct purport of this provision is that all lands in the territory of each state other than those in which the absolute title is already vested in the Federal Government or it’s agencies under the proceeding paragraphs; vest in the Governor of the state and is required to be “held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians.” The effect of the Act is the expropriation and nationalization of all lands in each state to the Governor of that state. Thus, the obiter dictum of Kayade Eso Jsc (as he then was) in Nkwocha v the Governor of Anambra state & Ors is pertinent and was relied upon. “The tenure of the Act, as a single piece of legislative is the nationalization of land in the country by the vesting of its ownership in the state leaving the private individuals with an interest in the land which is a mere right of occupancy and which is the only right protected in his favour by the law, after the promulgation of the Act” 
The obligation of the Governor is to administer the lands for the use and common benefit of “all Nigerians,” meaning Nigerians as a whole. It follows that neither individual Nigerians nor citizens of any particular state have any right to a superior or special claim to benefit on the land. Where such special benefit is claimed, or accorded, it can only be founded or explained on the basis of political expediency. It follows also that a non – Nigerian can not apply for a right of occupancy. Indeed, it has been held in Ogunola v Eiyekole, that words “any person” wherever used in the Act means, “any Nigerians” and does not included non – Nigerians.
There has been much controversy as to the nature of the power of the Governor of a state in respect to land in his state. According to Dr. A. Nnamani, “No Legislation promulgated in this country has elicited so much controversy, so much criticism, so much divergence in the interpretation of its provisions, and so much discourse in academic and business/financial circle as the Land Use Act.” Some jurist and writers are of the view that by virtue of S.1 of the Act, Land Use Act has created a trust concept on lands in a state, and the Governor is the trustee who holds the land in trust and administered it for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians. While others over that all lands in the country have been expropriated by government and ownership vested in the Governor of the state.
In view of this, this thesis has considered the critical examination of these propositions in the lights of judicial postulations and legal authorities.
In alluding to the trust concept created by the land use act, Professor James hinted, “there would appear to be no objection to expressing the nature of the Governor’s title as one of trustee – ownership.                  
Reacting to the provision of S.1 of the Act in the case of Ngwoch vs. the Governor of Anambra state Rerikefe Jsc (as he then was) said “by this piece of legislation, a legal trust affecting every rich of Nigerian land is created, constituting every state military Governor as trustee in respect of land within the limit of his state for the benefit of all Nigerians.
However, even though the land use at in S.1 uses the word “shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigeria,” its practicality cannot be interpreted to mean that the Governor holds the lands in his state as a trustee. Infact it is in support of this that Balogun J. in Otumba Adewumi V Ogunbowale & ors states that: “the concept of trusteeship as used in S.1 of the Land Use Act, as enacted in a loose sense. It is not intended to confer upon every citizen of Nigeria any right and cannot under the section as enacted claim against the “Military Governor” an account for any benefit accruing from land held by him under the Act in trust and administered by him for the common benefit of all Nigerians. Also Prof. B. O. Nwabueze in reacting to the trusteeship concept of the Land Use Act stated: “It is as well perhaps to emphasize that the concept of trusteeship is used here in a loose and figurative sense; it confers upon individual natives no rights which a beneficiary has against a trustee in English Law. No native can claim against the Governor on account for any benefit (E.g. rent) accruing from the Land” 
Therefore, the trust created in this regard must not be equated with the technical trust known in equity so as to confer on an aggrieved citizen the right to proceed in court against a Governor for a breach of an obligation impose on him by the Act. 
It is my humble position on this matter that S.1 of the Land Use Act does not create trust relationship in the actual sense, but rather a nominal trust. Therefore, the dictum of Irikefe Jsc in Nkwocha’s case and that of R W James, is with due respect hard to follow; and the later view is preferable.
The true nature of the right of property vested in the Governor under S.1 has variously been described as “radical title” or “nominal ownership” , in contrast, with absolute and beneficial ownership held by the Federal Government and its agencies. The ownership is said to be radical or nominal for two principal reasons. First, because S.1 vests the title in the land to the Governor “subject to the provisions of (the) Act” and the Act, by S.34 provides for the preservation of the possessory right of previous owner of land in all their developed land, and in urban area. Also by S.36, the Act similarly provides for the preservation of the possessory rights of previous owners in all their agricultural lands and in all their developed lands in non – urban area. The second reason why the Governor is said to hold only a radical or norminal title is because S.1 enjoins him to have the land vested in him held “in trust and administered for the use and common good of all Nigerians”. Smith, for example, concluded that being a trustee of land vested in him, the Governor holds only norminal ownership of land for the purpose of accomplishing the objective of the trust. 
These reasons are no doubt persuasive of the view that the Governor’s ownership title is only norminal or radical and not absolute. But, it nevertheless seems important in evaluating the true nature of the Governor’s ownership title to have regard to all those powers over land which Prof. Nwabueze correctly takes to constitute” the real essence of ownership,”  and which truly reposes in the governor under the Act. Together with the title vested in him, the Governor holds the full power of control, disposition and administration of the land. He has power to make grant of right of occupancy and other rights over unoccupied and even occupied land anywhere in the state, charging rent, and his due grant of occupancy right over any land automatically extinguishes all existing occupancy rights in the land. The Governor can revoke any right of occupancy under certain condition and is not required to pay any compensation for the land itself but only for the value of unexhausted improvements thereon. If, any. This is so even as regards deemed rights of occupancy existing by reason of previous customary or non – customary ownership or user under SS.34 and 36, which are potentially of indefinite duration. No person can validly alienate any right of occupancy granted or deemed to be granted by the Governor with his consent. Thus, in Savanah Bank v Aajilo, the Supreme Court held that alienation of both actual grant and deemed grant of right of occupancy required consent.
Indeed, such is the near absolute character of the Governor’s powers over land that the occupier of land the subject of a right of occupancy granted by him can claim no right of exclusive possession against him.
For these reasons given above, it seems necessary to tread with caution in writing off the Governor’s ownership title to lands in his state as a mere norminal or radial title.
The picture that emerges is that of a substantial or near absolute ownership title, qualified only by a pious obligation to administer the lands “for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians”. It is this conclusion that Eso Jsc’s viewed  S.1 of the Act in Nkwocha vs. the Governor of Anambra state as a nationalization of land in Nigeria finds justification.
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