The terms of land law have a different and deeper meaning in law than in everyday use. It is therefore important to understand these basic terms in land law. We have Ownership, Possession and Title.
Ownership entails the complete and total control which a person has over his property. Ownership and title can be used interchangeably because they are synonymous. However, ownership does not confer possession and possession does not confer ownership no matter how long the tenant is in possession. For instance, in the case of a landlord and tenant, the possessory right of the tenant is superior to the right of the owner of the property. Ownership of land can be categorized into the following:
- Ownership Under Common Law:
Under the English Common Law, the ownership of land is vested in the Crown as the absolute and supreme owner. Citizens will only be granted an occupational right to the land while the ownership still resides in the crown. The right to use and occupy land granted by the crown is known as estate.
- Ownership Under Customary Law:
Ownership is vested on the community as a corporate entity or family as the case may be. Any members of the community desiring a portion of the land will be given such which will be used for occupational purposes and no member of the same community will be granted that same portion of land.
- Ownership Under Statute:
Ownership of land is vested in the governor of the state in trust and for the common benefit of the citizen of Nigeria. This is clearly stated in S1(1) Of The Land Use Act Of 1978. S5 and S6 of the Act allows the Governor to grant a temporary right of occupancy to individuals and corporate bodies alike who are bound to renew after 99years.