It is a criminal offence for a person to give information which he knows or believes to be false for the purpose of obtaining the Governor’s consent, says the Attorney General, AG and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, Ade Ipaye.
The AG said this at a stakeholders’ meeting on Land Use Act (Title Documentation) 2012, held at the Government Secretariat, Alausa, Ikeja, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, during recently.
He said that from the commencement of the regulations, anyone caught giving false information to obtain the Governor’s Consent would be jailed for one year when convicted.
“The offence is punishable under section 96 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State and the offender is liable on conviction to one year imprisonment. Forgery is also another offence if it is established that documents have been falsified,” he disclosed.
Ipaye decried the high rate at which people falsified documents to obtain land titles and others, saying that such cases occurred on daily basis at the state’s land registry.
“Many applicants for Certificate of Occupancy apply, using receipts or other documents which are backdated or forged to create the impression that their transactions predated the Act in 1978.
“It is an attempt to circumvent the provisions of the Land Use Act by giving the appearance that the land was vested in the applicants prior to the enactment of the Land Use Act in 1978. The applicants thus claim to be entitled to a statutory right of occupancy issued by the Governor and evidenced by a Certificate of Occupancy.
“This practice constitutes criminal infraction of the law as it is an offence to forge documents, punishable under section 363 of Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011; supply false information to public officials with intent to deceive, punishable under section 96 of Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011; it also inhibits government’s efforts to promote certainty and proper documentation of land titles and to establish a comprehensive and reliable database of landed properties in Lagos,” he stated.
According to Ipaye, there was no need for such falsification as the Land Use Act, made sufficient provisions to safeguard the interests of persons in whom land was vested immediately before 1978. He explained that section 34 of the Land Use Act safeguards the interests of subsequent transferees or assignees.
On why the Law (Title Documentation) regulations was necessary, Ipaye stated that government recognises the fact that many assignors or purchasers of interests in land, though in exclusive possession, did not hold properly executed deeds on which Governor’s Consent might be endorsed.
“The regulations are necessary to guide the documentation and perfection processes; prevent parties in land transactions entered into after 29/03/78 from using false documents and information.
“Parties to land transactions entered into after 29/03/1978 shall declare the true details of such transactions in their applications for Certificate of Occupancy or Governor’s Consent on oath; present deeds of assignments or similar documents with their respective applications; not present forged document or false information with their applications,” he added.