Introduction Of ‘Affidavit’ To Customary Land Purchase Transaction In Nigerian States Other Than The FCT -Abuja

In customary land purchase transactions in Nigeria, there have been reported cases of ‘double transfer or alienation’ of ownership or ‘interest’ in the land by the seller or vendor to the buyer or purchaser. Many a time, the vendor resells such lands to different persons. Also, some persons involved in land selling or alienation such as: the village heads or village chiefs (selling community lands); family heads (selling family lands); and individuals (selling individual lands) have been taking advantage of the facts that in customary land tenure system, written documents or where the land is acquired according to native law and custom, a written agreement or conveyance is not a sine qua non once there is delivery of possession after payment of the purchase price. And since with respect to proof of sale of land under customary law, there is no necessity of a ceremonial handing-over before title under customary law could pass, such seller or vendor use those opportunities to perpetrate breach of trust and fraudulent misrepresentation of facts to the innocent purchaser of such land.

Recently too, while I was having a discussion with someone over customary lands, he disappointingly narrated to me of a chief (now recently late) who is used to selling same plot of land to different purchasers after collecting money for such purchase from each of them (unknown to each of them that the said land is encumbered or already sold to another person). The headache for me is how would one rescue an innocent purchaser of customary lands from these criminal personalities that obtain money by fraudulent misrepresentation of facts unknown to the innocent purchaser? That is the objective of this paper. This paper has made a recommendation after a long-thoughts on finding solutions to this problem. This paper has recommended that an ‘affidavit’ should be introduced to the customary land purchase transactions in Nigeria. This paper believes strongly that in this way, the seller or vendor or anyone who poses as such would be careful of not stating wrong or false facts in the affidavit so as not to face the legal consequences of such misrepresentation of facts in the affidavit. This paper is also of the respectful view, that introducing affidavit to customary land purchase transactions in Nigeria would make for a public policy to safeguard the interest and rights of the innocent purchaser of such customary land. Such introduction too is with respect, not repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience and in fact, it promotes and assures good conscience of the seller or vendor. Hence, this paper humbly recommends such introduction of the affidavit to customary land purchase transaction in Nigeria and it is my humble believe that this act would save a number of innocent purchasers of customary lands from any disturbance over their acquired land with their hard-earned money and would restrict and or restrain and or prohibit and or discourage double or multiple allocations or alienation of customary lands as evident in the contemporary customary land purchase transactions in Nigeria.

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