21 Jan


Don’t get mixed up. Rectification and Ratification are two different words that sound the same. Rectification means to fix a serious mistake on a document. Ratification means to give formal approval to a contract or agreement, making it legal and binding.

Before we can figure out how Rectification of Title to Land is different from Ratification of Title to Land, we need to know what a Land title is and how it works.


Land title is a person’s right to or claim of ownership over a piece of land. It just means that if you want to claim ownership of land, you have to prove to other people that you have the right to do so. For example, your grandfather left you the land in his will, you bought the land from someone else and he gave you the title papers, there was a dispute over the land and a court ruled that you were the owner, etc. A potential purchaser must look at the documents the vendor is using to start the transaction in order to find out who owns a piece of property.


There are many different kinds of title documents, but for this discussion, we will only look at three (3) of the most common ones.

  • DEED OF ASSIGNMENT. This is the most common type of title document, so it can be thought of as the most basic. At the end of a real estate deal, both parties should sign a deed of assignment as proof that the title has passed from the assignor to the assignee, i.e. from the vendor(s) to the purchaser (s).

For example, if Mrs. Nkechi buys a piece of land from Alhaji Usman in Abeokuta, a deed of assignment must be signed by both parties to show that the land now belongs to Mrs. Nkechi. If Mrs. Nkechi decides to sell the property in the near future, she will use the deed of assignment as proof of land ownership when dealing with a new potential purchaser.

  • SURVEY PLAN. This is a piece of paper that shows how much of a piece of land a person owns after buying it and having it given to him or transferred to him. It can also be called a person’s land’s geography map. It is a valid proof of ownership, especially when the exact location of a piece of land or its boundaries are in question. A survey plan can help settle this kind of dispute. In line with the above comparison, Mrs. Nkechi is expected to hire a registered surveyor to make a survey plan for the property she just bought from Alhaji Usman. This is very important if Alhaji Usman owns a large area of land in that area and only sold Mrs. Nkechi a part of it and not the whole area.
  • CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY. This is the most important land document in Nigeria. It shows that the land is legal and owned, no matter what it is used for. It is a legal document that says the governor of the state where the land is located has given the person or people whose names are on the document the legal right to live there. It just means that the person who has a Certificate of Occupancy has the legal right to live on that land. A certificate of occupancy can be used in a home, a business, or an agricultural setting. It is usually given for a set amount of time, usually 99 years for most lands and 25 years for agricultural lands.

After a quick look at the most common types of land title documents and how important they are, one can’t help but wonder what happens if there is a mistake on one of these papers. If such a mistake invalidates the owner’s claim to the land, what can be done once the mistake is found?

When an error is found in a title document, the only thing the document’s owner can do is try to get it fixed. This is the main point of our discussion. It is best to fix this mistake as soon as possible so that you don’t lose your title, since a bad title is no title.

For clarity’s sake, we’ll talk about the different title documents listed above and how to fix a mistake in one of them.

  • Deed of Assignment. There could be different mistakes in a deed of assignment, such as misspelled names, the wrong location of the property, or a mistake in how the document was signed. Whether or not this kind of mistake can be fixed depends on whether or not the deed of assignment is registered. If the document is not registered, fixing it is easy. All the assignee or purchaser has to do is have his lawyer make a new deed of assignment with all the correct information and have all the parties sign it again. When the registrar of titles has registered a deed of assignment, the process gets a little more complicated. We will be talking about how to fix a registered deed of assignment as part of our discussion. At this point, it’s important to know that a deed of rectification is needed to fix any title document that has already been registered at the lands registry.

‘What is a deed of rectification?’ is the next question that comes to mind. As the name suggests, a deed of rectification is a document that two parties sign to fix a mistake in a previous deed. This only applies to mistakes in a deed of assignment that has been registered. In order to fix a deed, certain requirements must be met and the written deed of rectification must be accompanied by certain documents.

These things:

  1. Letter of application sent to the permanent secretary of the lands bureau
  2. Application Letter for Lost Document
  3. Valid means of identification
  4. A sworn statement with a copy of a passport photo was attached.
  5. Publication of a half-page ad in a widely read newspaper
  6. Publication in the newspaper for the loss of a document
  7. Proof that the required fees have been paid.

When these conditions are met, the deed of rectification will be processed and recorded. This registered deed of rectification will be attached to the original deed of assignment, so anyone who looks up the property at the lands registry will see both documents.

  • Survey Plan. Often, we find properties with survey plans that are wrong, either in how they describe the property or where it is. The good news is that these problems can’t be fixed, especially if the deed of assignment and survey plan have already been registered. To fix this flaw, the process is like fixing a bad deed of assignment. The only difference is that the corrected survey plan will be added to the other documents needed for the process of rectification. In other words, the above-mentioned requirements and copies of the corrected survey plan are what are needed to fix a flawed survey plan. Once the process is done, a deed of rectification will be filed with information about the corrected survey plan.
  • Certificate of Occupancy. As was said before, the governor of a state gives a certificate of occupancy to the first person who owns a piece of property. If there is a mistake on this document, it is up to the person who gave it out to fix it if the person who has the title asks for it to be fixed and meets the requirements. It’s important to know that rectification can usually be done within 30 days of paying the legal fees for any title document.

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