Stakeholders laud bureau, as 3000 Certificates of Occupancy ready for collection in Lagos

In fulfillment of the Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s commitment to prompt issuance of certificate of occupancy (CofO) to property owners in the state, more than 3000 of the document are already signed, waiting for collection by the property owners.

Giving the statistics at the “Quarterly Interactive Stakeholders’ Forum”, organised by the Land Bureau, held at Adeyemi Bero Hall, Alausa Secretariat, the Permanent Secretary, Land Bureau, Mr. Bode Agoro, noted that 56 of the document were collected during the forum, being the number of those that made themselves available for collection.

Speaking on other innovations put in place to ease land documentations, Agoro revealed that a new department, named “Quality Control Department”, has just created, ostensibly, to be able to ensure that fake documentation and impersonation is completely wiped out.

“Some documents that doesn’t qualify to be registered had been found their ways for registration, creating a lot of misrepresentation in Land Bureau, thereby, making it possible for illegal land acquisition by fraudulent persons. But with quality control department in place, every application will now be filtered to determine their originality”, said the Permanent Secretary, noting that every application will henceforth, have its file.

Similarly, Director, Land Regularisation, Mr. Taofeek Adenuga, informed the gathering that  every survey submitted must be in line with reality on the site, and to get this done, government is to incorporate the services of professionals in the sector.

“These will include Surveyors, Town Planners and other relevant bodies who will engage in assessing the status of land for which application is being requested.

“It’s time we are seeking for cooperation and suggestion from all stakeholders, especially, those of you who will need our services. We would want all of us to be in the same page so as to make land administration fast, cheap and less cumbersome”. He stated.

However, there were couple of suggestions by the participants on how and what government should do and what they considered unnecessary.

For example, a participant, Mr. Olusola Ayeni was of the opinion the that for people to be attracted to land registration, tax requirement should not be a prerequisite for registration to be done.

He based his suggestion on the fact that not many land owners are enumerated for paying tax, especially, those who are in rural areas.

“I believed that government would make more money from land registration if tax is not part of requirement. Issue of tax is a difficult thing all over the country. But if this is removed, people would be ready to come forward, knowing fully well benefits accrue to a land with Title”, Ayeni suggested.

Another participant, Samson Alade was of the view that instead of issuing letter of allocation differently and certificate of occupancy separately.

“I am of the view that certificate of occupancy alone is enough to serve the needed purposes instead of double payment”.

It was also suggeted that instead of government officials waiting at Alausa for clients to come, it will be more efficient and more rewarding if officials have field workers that will be going around and getting land registered.

“Many people have wrong notion about civil servants. They see them as being hard, extortionists, overly officious and many negative impressions. More than that, people lack financial wherewithal to be coming repeatedly without successfully get their transactions done, particularly, those that are not residing in the metropolis. So, if officials can be visiting them and make the charges as low as possible, government revenue will increase and people will have value for their property”.

It was also suggested that frequency at which policy changes is not augur well for applicants.

The highlight of reforms by successive administrations  in the Land Bureau in the recent years are listed below: Deployment of professional personnel to achieve optimum performance; Minimizing abuses especially those relating to corrupt practices and red tape; Reforming mode of payment for service delivery in Lands Bureau through direct payment to designated Banks; Placement of templates for the conduct of business in the Bureau, and Introduction of the Electronic Document Management System (EDMS).

Others are the 30 Days Governor’s Consent, which has improved upon to at most, three weeks; Digital Mapping of Lagos State to complement the effect of EDMS; Reduction of payments on Consent fees, Capital Gains Tax, Stamp Duty and Registration fees; Establishment of the Directorate of Land Regularisation to eliminate the hitherto defective Ratification procedure; Introduction of new Land Administration policies to aid Industrial, Commercial and Housing requirements, particularly as it affects Private Developers’ Schemes And Introduction of new Urban Renewal Policies that would create New Towns out of old communities

In the recent time are the introduction of a proactive policy on property perfection and registration to develop a reliable data base; A review of the change of policy use to prevent abuse of the massive town planning and urban protection Laws that have adversely affected Ikoyi, Victoria Island, etc, thereby turning them into Urban Slum; Massive reclamation and expansion program to increase the Land mass available to the State for its use; Mortgage Registry; Acquisition and Excision Registry and introduction of automated validation of receipts of payments.