Compulsory Acquisition of Land
The compulsory acquisition of land is the process by which the government acquires from private landowners their land which is needed for any public purpose or for a purpose beneficial to the economic development of Nigeria. It is a drastic form of governmental intervention as it results in the dispossession and eviction of landowners from their properties. This is provided for under the Land Use Act and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
When can private land be compulsorily acquired?
Land can be compulsorily acquired for overriding public interest and public purpose. Overriding public interest means the requirement of the land by the Government of the State or by a Local Government in the State. In either case, for public purposes within the State, or the requirement of the land by the Government of the Federation for public purposes of the Federation; the requirement of the land for farming purposes or mining purposes or for the laying of oil pipelines or for any related purpose.
Also, a land compulsorily acquired for public purpose can be vitiated where it was subsequently diverted to serve private need. If a property is ostensibly acquired for public purpose and it is subsequently discovered that it has directly or indirectly been diverted to serve private needs, the acquisition can be vitiated. If the acquiring authority can no longer find a public purpose for the land so acquired the only avenue open to it is to de-acquire it and let the same revert to the person in whom it was already vested
The compulsory acquisition of land affects the constitutional rights of landowners. It is thus important for landowners to understand their rights, so their land rights are protected and adequately compensated.
Are the private landowners compensated?
Compensation is an integral part of the process of compulsory acquisition of land in Nigeria. Its importance cannot be over emphasized as failure to compensate the occupier renders the acquisition a nullity. The prompt payment of compensation is provided for both statutorily and by judicial pronouncements.
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