Legal Framework Governing Land Survey Plans in Nigeria

The required documents needed for land to be verified to become yours include a deed of assignment, a Land Survey Plan, tax clearance, current land use and a sketch. The legal framework governing land survey plans in Nigeria holds immense significance in ensuring the integrity and validity of property rights within the country’s diverse land tenure system. It serves as the cornerstone for property transactions, providing the necessary legal safeguards and standards for survey plan preparation and approval. This framework plays a pivotal role in protecting property owners from encroachment and disputes while fostering transparency and certainty in land administration. Compliance with statutory laws and regulations is essential to upholding the legality and enforceability of survey plans, thereby promoting stability and confidence in Nigeria’s land market. A robust legal framework for land survey plans is indispensable for facilitating economic development, resolving disputes, and promoting social equity across the nation.  

Importance of Land Survey Plans 

Land survey plans serve as legal documents that define the boundaries and dimensions of land parcels. They play a pivotal role in various land-related activities, including land acquisition, development, and dispute resolution.  

In Nigeria, the importance of accurate land survey plans cannot be overstated, given the complexities of land tenure systems and the prevalence of land disputes.

Legal Framework Governing Land Survey Plans in Nigeria 

The legal framework governing land survey plans is multifaceted, encompassing both statutory provisions and customary practices. Understanding this legal framework is essential for ensuring the validity and enforceability of survey plans within the Nigerian legal system. 

Land Use Act of 1978

The Land Use Act of 1978 represents a cornerstone of land administration in Nigeria. This legislation vests all land within the territory of each state in the governor of that state, who holds it in trust for the people. The Act establishes the framework for land tenure, acquisition, and management, emphasizing the need for proper documentation and regulation of land transactions. 

Under the Land Use Act, the Surveyor General’s Office plays a pivotal role in overseeing land surveying activities and maintaining records of survey plans. Survey plans prepared by licensed surveyors must be submitted to the Surveyor General’s Office for approval and endorsement before they can be considered valid.

State Laws and Regulations 

In addition to the Land Use Act, each state in Nigeria has its own laws and regulations governing land surveying practices and documentation requirements. These laws may vary from state to state but generally complement the provisions of the Land Use Act and provide specific guidelines for survey plan preparation, approval, and registration. 

State laws may prescribe the qualifications and licensing requirements for surveyors and the standards and procedures to be followed in conducting surveys. They may also establish the roles and responsibilities of government agencies responsible for land administration and surveying, such as the State Ministry of Lands and Survey or the Land Registry.

Customary Land Tenure Systems 

In many parts of Nigeria, customary land tenure systems coexist with formal statutory laws, particularly in rural areas. These customary systems are often based on traditional practices, communal ownership, and customary laws passed down through generations. Customary land tenure systems may influence land surveying practices and the documentation of land rights. Survey plans prepared for lands held under customary tenure may need to consider customary boundaries, community interests, and local land-use practices.


Judicial Precedents 

Judicial precedents also play a significant role in shaping the legal framework governing land survey plans in Nigeria. Court decisions interpreting statutory laws, customary practices, and contractual agreements help clarify legal principles and establish precedents for future cases. 

Courts may adjudicate disputes related to land survey plans, boundary disputes, or the validity of land transactions based on the evidence presented, including survey plans and expert testimony. Precedents set by higher courts provide guidance and establish legal principles that lower courts are bound to follow.


Compliance and Enforcement 

Compliance with the legal framework governing land survey plans is essential to ensuring the validity and enforceability of land transactions. Surveyors must adhere to statutory requirements, professional standards, and ethical principles in preparing survey plans. Failure to comply with legal requirements may render survey plans invalid or subject to challenge in court. 

Government agencies responsible for land administration and surveying play a crucial role in enforcing compliance with the legal framework. These agencies review survey plans, conduct inspections, and maintain records of land transactions to ensure transparency, accountability, and adherence to legal standards.

Essential Information in a Land Survey Plan

Title Information  

The title information includes the title of the survey plan, the name of the surveyor who prepared it, and the date of preparation. This section also specifies the survey plan number, which serves as a unique identifier for the document.

Location Description 

A detailed description of the location of the surveyed land is essential. This description typically includes the name of the village, town, or city where the land is situated, as well as any relevant landmarks or geographical features.


Boundary Markers  

The survey plan must clearly indicate the boundary markers or monuments that delineate the boundaries of the land parcel. These markers may include physical structures, such as pillars or beacons, and natural landmarks like rivers or trees.


Dimensions and Area 

Accurate measurements of the land parcel’s dimensions and area are fundamental aspects of a survey plan. The plan should provide detailed information about the lengths of each boundary and the total area enclosed by those boundaries, expressed in square meters or hectares.


Survey Methodology 

A description of the survey methodology employed in preparing the plan is necessary to establish its credibility and accuracy. This includes details about the surveying instruments used, the procedures followed, and any adjustments made to account for errors or discrepancies.


Existing Rights and Interests 

The survey plan should indicate any existing rights, interests, or encumbrances affecting the surveyed land, such as easements, leases, or other third-party interests. This information is crucial for potential buyers or developers to assess the land’s suitability for their intended purposes.


Surveyor’s Certificate 

A land survey plan must be accompanied by a certificate signed by the licensed surveyor who conducted the survey. This certificate attests to the survey measurements’ accuracy and states that the survey was conducted in compliance with applicable laws and regulations.


Approval and Endorsement 

Before a land survey plan can be considered valid, it must be approved and endorsed by the relevant government authorities, such as the Surveyor General’s Office or the Land Registry. This endorsement serves as official recognition of the plan’s compliance with legal requirements.


Sketch Map 

A sketch map illustrating the location of the surveyed land within its broader geographic context may also be included in the survey plan. This map provides additional clarity and context for the land parcel’s boundaries and surrounding features. 



Land survey plans are indispensable tools for establishing and safeguarding property rights. By providing accurate descriptions of land boundaries, dimensions, and other pertinent details, survey plans facilitate transparent and legally valid land transactions.  

Understanding the essential information that must be included in a land survey plan is crucial for landowners, buyers, and legal practitioners alike to navigate the complexities of property ownership within the Nigerian legal system. By adhering to established standards and regulations, stakeholders can ensure the integrity and reliability of land survey plans, thereby promoting certainty and stability in land tenure and development. 


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