The position of the law is that an illegal property acquisition CANNOT be cured by obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) on the property. If you acquire a CofO on an improperly or illegally acquired land, the exercise is fruitless and the CofO is worthless.

This was what the Nigerian Supreme Court said in the recent case of DR. ATIKU ADERONPE v. ALHAJA SOBALAJE ELERAN & ORS. [2019] 4 NWLR Pt. 1661 Pg. 11-12 where the Court, Per Ejembi Eko, JSC said that:

“In keeping with the provisions of Section 9 (1) (c) of the Land Use Act, 1978, there must have been an entitlement to a statutory right of occupancy before a certificate can be given as evidence of such right. Stated differently, when there is no right and a certificate is issued, such certificate as in the case in hand is not worth even the paper it is written on. I place reliance on the cases of Olohunde v Adeyoju (2000) 10 NWLR (Pt. 676) 562 at 587-588; Ogunleye v Oni (1990) 2 NWLR (Pt. 35) 745 at 780.”

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Therefore, it is pertinent to do your due diligence before acquiring a property in the first place. After proper acquisition, you can then proceed to obtain your Certificate of Occupancy or Governor’s Consent as the case may be.

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