The Customary Land Tenure Systems of the South - Eastern States of Nigeria (Benue, Plateau, East Central; Rivers and South - Eastern States.

Asoegwu, N. R (1973)

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This paper grew out of the need to develop a truly Nigerian Cadastral System which conforms, as far as possible, to the traditional land tenure system that operate within the ethnic groups in the country. A true cadastre involves an unambiguous definition of the extent of each constituent parcel and the legal rights and interests appearing to each, and finally an ordered registration of such interests and rights. As a starting point, therefore, it is essenti al to find out the prevailing tenurial systems to known what adaptations the proposed system will need. The fact given here are from information gathered during the writer's visits to the communities in the four South - Eastern States of Nigeria, and these a re substantiated, in most cases, by the earlier writings of some authors who had made either specific or general studies of some aspects of land tenure in the area. The general aim is to state the traditional land tenure systems; but where some factors suc h as Government Statutes or Court decisions have modified any system, these are indicated. The paper starts with the definition of the area covered, the purpose of the study and the examination of the position of land in the customary society. The land is classified, for the purpose of this paper, on the basis of the type of controls over it namely communal, family and individual controls. It is observed that whatever system of tenure that obtained in any ethnic group is subject to change with time. The factors responsible for these change are discussed. The rest of the paper discusses different models of acquiring land "inter - vivos" and by inheritance. Some people are, however, not entitled to acquire land, the extent of rights and interests of these ar e examined. In conclusion, some aspects of the land custom that need up - dating are evaluated and suggestions put forward on how to initiate the establishment of a cadastral system for the country.