Steps a purchasers solicitor should take to investigate the vendors title to the property include the following:
1️⃣ Collect epitome & abstract of title from vendor.
2️⃣. Examine copies of the abstracted documents.
3️⃣. Conduct physical inspection/visitation on the land (to determine patent defects, physical condition of property & infrastructure, etc)
4️⃣.Conduct search in the LANDS REGISTRY (mandatory) and in following additional places, depending on the peculiar circumstances —- Corporate Affairs Commission’s Company registry (if the vendor is a corporate body), probate registry (if property was inherited), court registry (if there was Litigation earlier), etc.
◼️Please note that for the purpose of number 4, REGISTRY SEARCH in Abuja is conducted at the AGIS (Abuja Geographic Information System) while REGISTRY SEARCH in Lagos is conducted under the LIMS (Land Information Management System).
5️⃣. Investigate family/traditional history or background
6️⃣. Raise relevant requisitions (where necessary) and deal with same.
🔹. After all these, write and submit to purchaser, a Search Report (the General Land Investigation Search Report).
▪️(a) This six/seven- step procedure FOR GENERAL INVESTIGATION OF TITLE TO LAND applies throughout Nigeria.
▪️(b). There is a huge difference between “INVESTIGATION OF TITLE TO LAND” and “CONDUCT OF SEARCH IN THE LANDS RREGISTRY” (Registry Search)
✔️THE DIFFERENCES INCLUDE:
▪️(a). Search in the Lands Registry is an aspect of GENERAL PROCEDURE for investigation of title to land in Nigeria.
▪️(b). While procedure for INVESTIGATION OF TITLE is of uniform application to all parts and in all Property jurisdictions in Nigeria, Procedure for Search in the Lands Registry (Registry Search) DIFFERS/VARIES from jurisdiction to jurisdiction..
▪️(c) Example: While the procedure for INVESTIGATION OF TITLE TO LAND is THE SAME in both ABUJA and LAGOS, the procedure for conducting a SEARCH IN THE ABUJA LANDS REGISTRY is different from the procedure for conducting a SEARCH IN THE LAGOS LANDS REGISTRY. REGISTRY SEARCH in Abuja is conducted at the AGIS (Abuja Geographic Information System) while REGISTRY SEARCH in Lagos is conducted under the LIMS (Land Information Management System).
▪️(d). DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A REGISTRY SEARCH REPORT AND GENERAL INVESTIGATION SEARCH REPORT:
✔️(i) A “REGISTRY SEARCH REPORT”(such as that issued by the AGIS in Abuja or the LIMS in Lagos) is not the same thing as “INVESTIGATION SEARCH REPORT”.
▪️(ii). A REGISTRY SEARCH REPORT is prepared/issued by the Lands Registry after a successful Search at the Registry — AGIS in Abuja or LIMS in Lagos. A land INVESTIGATION SEARCH REPORT is prepared by the purchaser’s Solicitor after a successful investigation of title to land, the the purpose being to advise his client generally on the outcome of the INVESTIGATION.
▪️(iii) land investigation is conducted in many places, not just in the Lands Registry (AGIS/LIMS) alone. LAND Registry search is conducted at the Lands Registry alone.
▪️(iv). The outcome of Registry search is among the contents of the General Investigation Search Report because registry search is an aspect of the general Procedure for Land Investigation.
▪️(v). Registry Search Report (issued by the Land Registry to the Solicitor who conducted the registry search) is usually NOT submitted to the Solicitor’s client. At the conclusion of general Investigation of title to the Land, the Solicitor is expected to reflect the result of such Registry Search in the General Investigation Search Report to be submitted to his client (the purchaser).
⚫PROCEDURE FOR CONDUCTING A REGISTRY SEARCH UNDER THE LAND INFORMATION MANAGEMENT SYSTEM (LIMS) LAGOS
(1) Submit an application in the prescribed form to the Registrar of Titles. The prescribed form is Form 3, attached to Schedule 1 of the Law.
(2) Application may be submitted online after the applicant has made relevant payments by Credit Card or by other permissible form of electronic payment. See s. 22 (2), (3) and (4).
(3) Consideration of application and conduct of search by or on the orders of the Registrar.
(4) The Registrar shall issue an official report of Search, as is in Form 4, attached to Schedule 1 to this Law.
⚫PROCEDURE FOR REGISTRY SEARCH UNDER THE ABUJA GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM (AGIS)
1️⃣. The purchaser’s solicitor submits the following requirements at AGIS to conduct a REGISTRY search or to verify the particulars of the land:
(i) An application letter addressed to the Director of Lands Administration providing full details of the property which is stated on the Certificate of Occupancy to wit: Name of Owner, File Number, Plot No(s), Certificate of Occupancy Number and date.
(ii). Evidence of payment of legal search fee. The customized teller for such is available in the Bank.
(iii) Copy of Title Documents (usually the epitome of title).
(iv) Consent Letter from the Land owner (title holder), where necessary.
(v) Photocopy of valid means of identification.
2️⃣. The search is then carried out by the staff member (s) of the at the Land Registry (AGIS).
3️⃣. The AGIS prepares and delivers a (REGISTRY) search report in the prescribed format.
▪️ Sylvester Udemezue (udems)
Legal Practitioner, Lecturer, Nigerian Law School, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State.