What is Revocation of Rights of Occupancy for Overriding Public Interest?
According to the provision of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Decree of 1992, Section 75(1) states that:
“where it appears to the Commission, the Board or the Authority that it is necessary to obtain any land in connection with planned urban or rural development in accordance with the policies and proposals of any approved plan, any right of occupancy subsisting on that land shall be revoked on the recommendation of the appropriate authority”.
These rights of occupancy shall be revoked in accordance with the relevant provision of the Land Use Act (Section 75(2)). The revocation of the rights of occupancy by the Governor for overriding public interest is categorically stated in Section 28(1) of the Land Use Act of 1978:
“It shall be lawful for the Military Governor to revoke a right of occupancy for overriding public interest”.
The Land Use Act never set out to abolish all existing title and rights to possession of land (Section 34). It vested the land in the Governor who holds it in trust and administered for the use and common benefits of the general public (Section 1). This in long way as made it easy for the government to acquire land for public purpose and also it has made the issue of compensation easier.
Before going further, it is pertinent to say here that there are two types of rights of occupancy as provided by the Section 5 and 6 of the Land Use Act and each stand as a case for overriding public interest. These are statutory right of occupancy and customary rights of occupancy.
Statutory right occupancy is granted by the Governor in respect of land, whether in rural or urban area, to any person for all purposes (Section 5(1a) of Land Use Act), while, customary rights of occupancy is granted by the local government in respect of land not in urban area (rural area) to any person or organization for the use of land in local government area for agricultural, residential, grazing and other purposes (Section 6(1a, b)).
Revocation of statutory rights of occupancy for overriding public interest means:
- The alienation by the occupier by assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sublease, or otherwise of any right of occupancy or part thereof contrary to the provisions of this Decree or of any regulations made under;
- The requirement of the land by the Government of the state or by 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 mining purposes or oil pipelines or for any purpose connected therewith.
Revocation of customary rights of occupancy for 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 requirements of the land for mining purposes or oil pipelines or for any purpose connected therewith;
- The requirement of the land for the extraction of building materials;
- The alienation by the occupier by sale, assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sublease, bequest or otherwise of the right of occupancy without the requisite consent or approval.