THE DANGERS OF BUYING AN “EXCISION IN PROCESS” LAND IN LAGOS
Excision in process is the most abused land scam gimmick used by real estate companies, agents, and land marketers in Ibeju Lekki today. They claim that their land for sale is undergoing “Excision Processing” and has a “FILE NUMBER” in order to deceive purchasers into purchasing their land. Continuous use of “EXECUTIONS IN PROGRESS” and “FILE NUMBER” is employed by these real estate agents or marketers to defraud purchasers and induce them to purchase their lands. Whether they say it intentionally or unintentionally, it is still a scam, and purchasers should be wary of it.
Purchasing “EXECUTION IN PROGRESS” or “FILE NUMBER” land is equivalent to pouring gasoline on your hard-earned millions and burning them while smoking weed. A property whose primary title at the time of purchase is “EXECUTION IN PROGRESS” and “FILE NUMBER” is not a good title and means absolutely nothing. To help you comprehend what an “Excision in Process” is, I will briefly describe its meaning and how it has become the most commonly used fraudulent term to scam millions of people in Nigeria today.
BRIEF HISTORY OF WHAT AN EXCISION REALLY IS
Every community or village in Nigeria, and especially in Lagos, possesses lands that have been in the possession of the community or village for thousands of years and that have been passed down from generation to generation. The community’s lands have been divided into portions or acres and distributed to various families. It is very common to hear that 10 plots of land (for example) belong to the Odutola family or that 20 acres of land in that community belong to the Balogun family. Custodians of these family lands are senior members of the family, typically the head of the family, also known as the “Olori Ebi,” and other senior members such as brothers, uncles, or nephews, who administer how the lands are used, allocated, or sold to outsiders. These guardians maintain a record of the lands in their possession and repel intruders who attempt to seize their lands with ferocity.
Prior to 1978, these family custodians were able to sell land to whomever they wished and controlled who could own land in their community. Communities that were fortunate enough to sit on solid minerals such as Oil, Gold, Copper, Silver, or cash/food crops had complete control over these resources, and it was extremely difficult for the government to seize control of certain lands that contained these resources without squabbling over money, access to these resources, and eventual compensation. All of these alterations occurred in 1978, when Obasanjo enacted the Land Use Decree (now known as the Land Use Act 1978).
The Land Use Act authorized the government to own all land in Nigeria and the governors to own all land in their respective states. The government must grant you permission to own land in order for you to be able to do so. Although it acknowledged the community’s ancestral ownership of land, you still needed the approval of the state’s Governor to acquire the land. In other words, the governor is our landlord, and we are all his tenants. In exchange for the governor’s permission to purchase land, each purchaser of land would be issued a certificate of ownership, also known as a “C of O,” for a specified number of years.
The Governor also recognized the problems with issuing everyone a Certificate of Occupancy, particularly the land-owning host community, and devised a system that was suitable for all parties. If a community had, say, 100 plots of land, it would agree with the families in the community to take a portion of that land for its own use to build essential amenities for the public good, while the remaining plots would be returned to the community for it to do with as it pleases and retain full ownership. This division or partitioning of the lands is referred to as “Excision,” which in English means the removal of a portion of a whole.
After the government has divided the portion of land between the community and the government, this is an example of an Excision Survey. A purchaser can only acquire land within the survey’s defined boundaries. Anything beyond it is prohibited. The government could then take thirty plots and give the remaining seventy to the community. The thirty parcels acquired by the government are referred to as “LANDS UNDER GOVERNMENT ACQUISITION.” No one is permitted to purchase property within the acquired area. Anyone who purchases land within the acquired government portion does so at their own risk, unless granted permission or consent by the governor. A purchaser is entitled to meet the community to purchase land from the remaining 70 plots given to the community, and the community, through its custodians, has control over how to sell and administer the 70 plots that have been divided between the government and the community.
In order to avoid ambiguity between government-owned lands and those allocated to the community, the division or excision of these lands is recorded in an official government journal that documents every event. This publication is a GAZETTE. The Gazette is used to record the number of lands taken by the government and the number of lands owned by the community. It also specifies the land’s size, location, number, and position. It includes the date, month, and year, as well as the page and volume. It displays the precise location of the beacons indicating where the acquired government land begins and ends, as well as where the community land begins.
This appears to be a straightforward process between the government and the community to divide or partition land and record it in the Gazette; however, it is actually a very complicated and time-consuming procedure. Before an Excision is finally approved, the process of excising land between the government and the community, also known as an “Excision in process,” must endure numerous difficult battles.
It is a very expensive project that necessitates the community’s search for sponsors, in exchange for which they must sacrifice some of their community lands. It requires intense lobbying of the government on behalf of the community by the sponsor of the excision process. Even if the government is willing to grant the sponsor’s request to come to the community to excise or partition these lands, it would be necessary to involve the land registries and surveyor general’s office in order to excise those lands.
Even if the Surveyor General comes to the land to map out all available land, it takes a considerable amount of time to determine which land belongs to the government and which belongs to the community. Even if the Surveyor General excises the land, it must be depicted on a very large survey plan known as the Excision Survey Plan. This plan identifies which areas belong to the government and which belong to the community. Even if they complete the Excision Survey Plan, the government must visit the site to install all necessary beacons separating government-owned land from community-allocated land.
Getting the governor to sign off on the excision is the greatest challenge. Imagine an agent or real estate company that is unaware of the complexities involved in obtaining an excision on a piece of property announcing to a potential purchaser that the “EXCISION IS IN PROGRESS” and the file number is “FILE NUMBER” in an attempt to deceive them into purchasing. Does this Agent or Marketer have direct access to Governor Sanwoolu to confirm that the excision is in the process of being approved? When did confirming a file’s file number result in the Excision being approved? Anyone who tells you to purchase land using the phrase “EXECUTION IN PROGRESS” or “FILE NUMBER” to promote land without a valid title deserves an uppercut. Because of this, thousands of land purchasers in Ibeju Lekki who have purchased land over the years using the “EXCISION IN PROCESS” and “FILE NUMBER” gimmick do not have proper title documents or the ability to process their title documents because they are waiting indefinitely for the “EXCISION IN PROCESS” to be approved.
Therefore, the next time you hear that a property is for sale and the major government titles they have are “EXECUTIONS IN PROGRESS” and “FILE NUMBER” without hard evidence, please remove your slippers or shoes and run. Ensure that you conduct a thorough search prior to purchasing your next piece of land; otherwise, you could be purchasing a piece of land with Excision in process issues and have no way of resolving them.