CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO PROPERTY IN NIGERIA

Land is one of the most common form of property and is termed as “real property”

CHAMAN LAW FIRM

5/19/2022 2 min read

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS TO PROPERTY IN NIGERIA

Property can be moveable or immovable, and is capable of being owned or acquiring an interest in. Land is one of the most common form of property and is termed as “real property”. The Constitution is the grund-norm of the country, this means every other law is subject to it. In the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, there are guaranteed human rights which include: Right to dignity, Right to freedom from discrimination, Right to life etc.

One of these guaranteed rights is the right to own property in Nigeria. The right in the constitution covers both moveable and immovable property. As a guaranteed right, this implies that it can be enforced in a court of law.

We would now explain the two major sections of the constitution that guarantees the right to property below:

1. Section 43 of the 1999 Constitution - guarantees the right to property by stating ‘’Subject to the provisions of this Constitution, every citizen of Nigeria shall have the right to acquire and own immovable property anywhere in Nigeria’’. This section exclusively states that citizens of Nigeria are free to acquire and own immovable property, this immovable property includes fixed property like lands, factories etc. Every citizen of Nigeria is thus entitled to own immovable property according to section 43 of the Nigerian constitution regardless of the location, locality, gender and tribe.

There are certain limitations or processes to be followed. Although this is a guaranteed right in some case, for example, a minor may not be allowed to acquire land without an authorized adult. This can be seen in Lagos state law for property.

2. Section 44 of the 1999 Constitution – This section follows immediately after section 43 to guarantee “No moveable property or any interest in an immovable property shall be taken possession of compulsorily and no right over or interest in any such property shall be acquired compulsorily in any part of Nigeria except in the manner and for the purposes prescribed by a law”. It then goes on to list the exceptions in subsection (a-b). The section expounds that such property cannot be taken forcibly unless under circumstances listed by the law. Section 44(3) states that minerals and other related assets are kept under the control of the Government of the Federation and managed according to the leading of the National Assembly.

There have been arguments regarding the wording of section 44 of the 1999 constitution and what it implies to non-citizens. Since section 43 exclusively states for Nigerian citizens it was implied that section 44 implies to both citizens and non-citizens.

Other laws which guarantees the right to property asides the constitution is the Land Use Act which provides for right covering land. In section 1 of the Land Use Act it states “all land comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation are hereby vested in the Governor of that State and such land shall be held in trust and administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of this Act”. It should be noted however that this does not contradict the Constitution which guarantees the right to property.

In conclusion, Constitutional rights to property are guaranteed under Section 43 and 44 of the 1999 CFRN and this is fully enforceable in a court of law.

NB: This article is not a legal advice, and under no circumstance should you take it as such. All information provided are for general purpose only. For information, please contact chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

WRITTEN BY: CHAMAN LAW FIRM TEAM

E-MAIL: chamanlawfirm@gmail.com

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