Surveyors Threaten to file contempt charge against Lagos Surveyor-General

Wale Igbintade

Surveyors Council of Nigeria (SURCON) has warned that it may file contempt charge against Lagos State Surveyor General, over his failure to respect court judgement, which nullified Section 5 of the State Survey Practice Law, and granted registered surveyors to practice the profession in any part of the state without any hindrance.

Addressing a press conference yesterday in Lagos, Surveyor Adaranijo Rafiu stated that a subsisting order of the court must be obeyed by all, no matter how lowly or highly placed in the society.

He called on Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, to call on the state Surveyor General to obey the court order and stop controlling survey practice in the state.

According to him, Section 19 of the SURCON Act, gave SURCON exclusive authority to direct activities of all qualified surveyors in the country.

He said, “The purpose of this press briefing is to inform the general populace and fellow surveyors all over the country about the judgment delivered by Honourable Justice Daniel Emeka Osiagor of the Federal High Court, Lagos on August 2, 2022, which states that SURCON is the only statutory body that is legally empowered to regulate and control to control the activities of survey practice in any part of Nigeria, especially Lagos State.

“It is disheartening that more than a month after the judgement was delivered, Lagos State is yet to comply with the court order, as the Surveyor General of Lagos State continued to refuse to accept for lodgement the record copy with Plan No: TOC/0699/06/2022/LA, dated August 10, 2022.

“The court’s pronouncement is unambiguous that SURCON, and not the Surveyor General of Lagos State or any other body is empowered by law to make regulations/guidelines regarding the practice of the profession. This order means that any survey work that is not conducted in compliance with the guidelines of SURCON is/or can be invalidated. Our fellow colleagues need to know this and align moving forward.

“The second pronouncement, which is an expansion of the first, reaffirms the powers of SURCON to regulate and control the survey practice and profession in Nigeria. It states that SURCON has the power to issue the Guidelines for the Conduct of Survey Practice in Nigeria.

“The SURCON Guidelines for the Conduct of Survey Practice in Nigeria, 2020, came into effect on the 16th of July, 2020. From the guideline and by Section 19 of the SURCON Act, only Surveyors duly registered by SURCON are eligible to practice the survey profession. They are entitled to practice as a surveyor throughout the country without any hindrance, except for those placed on suspension by SURCON.

“From the guideline, all survey plans must be lodged with the Office of the Surveyor General within one month from the completion date of the survey work. And on the matter of Consent to conduct survey work on any parcel of land, whether owned by the Government or not, the court ruled that it is unconstitutional for the Lagos State House of Assembly to enact a law in this regard. By the fourth and fifth pronouncements of the judgement, surveyors would no longer need to apply for consent from anyone, including the Surveyor General of the state, before surveying any land, regardless of the status of such land.

“It is essential to let the public know that the survey plan is not a title. It is intended to be a proper description of a parcel of land, and the preparation of a survey plan, which is a critical document in title preparation, does not automatically mean the land has been vested in the person for which the plan has been prepared for.

“SURCON guideline 2020 requires that any survey records carried out on any parcel of land, irrespective of the client, shall be lodged in the Office of the Surveyor General. However, going by the order of court, the Surveyor General of Lagos State lacks the power to reject any survey plans submitted by any registered surveyor for lodgement.

“Also, the court in its judgement, ordered that the Surveyor General of Lagos State has no power to demand or counter-sign a survey plan prepared by a registered surveyor.  It is important to stress at this time that although the SURCON has the power to regulate the practice of surveying, its regulation that infringes on the rights of surveyors is a contradiction of the act and, as such, is defective. The guideline of 2020 shed light on the practice without any further contradictions.”

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