The provisions of the extant land laws in Nigeria
with respect to an alien’s capacity to acquire
and own land is well settled. However, the
degree or extent of rights exercisable by an
alien who is in occupation of a land and/or who
wishes to occupy a parcel of land under the
laws is often the subject of debate.
Section 51 Land Use Act defines a holder
of right of occupancy (ROO) as a person entitled to a ROO and includes any person to whom a
ROO has been validly assigned or has validly passed on upon the death of a Holder provided that the elements of a valid Will is established and probate is obtained. Therefore if a foreigner is assigned a ROO validly according to the above then he may hold land in Nigeria.
More so, the question whether a foreigner can acquire land in Nigeria may be answered in the
affirmative where the restrictions/conditions identified under the Acquisition of Lands by Aliens Laws (ALAL) of the applicable state in Nigeria has been satisfied. That is, the
granting of the Governor’s written approval shall be of paramount importance; but where the alien’s acquisition of interest or right in land is less than 3 years (a short lease) the Governor’s written approval is not required.
It is also noteworthy that upon procurement of the Governor’s written approval, the acquired interest on land by such foreigner shall not be greater than Twenty Five (25) years with an
option to renew.