Survey Law: Lagos Challenges Judgement, Insists State Determines Who Surveys Land

Wale Igbintade

The Lagos State government has urged the Court of Appeal, Lagos Division to hold that the state being the owner of the land has the right to determine who works on its land just like a litigant has a right to Counsel of its choice.

The Lagos State Surveyor-General stated this in a Notice of Appeal filed against the judgement of Justice Daniel Osiagor of the Federal High Court in Lagos, which invalidated Section 5 of the state’s Survey Law that required surveyors to obtain the written consent of the Surveyor-General, before surveying any state land.

Justice Osiagor had held among others, that the Lagos Surveyor-General lacks the power to deny the plaintiffs or any registered surveyor’s consent to survey any parcel in the state (whether owned by the government, corporate bodies or individuals).

The judge made this pronouncement while delivering judgement in a suit marked FHC/L/CS/1789/2020, filed by seven Surveyors, Adaranijo Ibikunle Ganiyu Rafiu, Aluko Kikelomo Sikirat (Mrs.), Adedeji Olarewaju, Adams Benjamin Olugbenga, Mekuleyi Oluseyi Samuel, Aliu Samuel, and Fashina Adedapo against the Surveyor General of Lagos State and 10 others.

Dissatisfied, Lagos State Surveyor-General and eight other Appellants in their Notice of Appeal, filed by the Lagos State Attorney-General, and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo, urged the appellate court to hold that it has the right of appointing the persons who can survey the land belonging to the state government, and that it is a right that relates to ownership of land which the lower court has no power to take away.

The appellants argued that the land in dispute was a state land and being a state land, the Surveyor General has a right to appoint any registered surveyor to carry out his instruction in relation to the said land. 

The appellants argued that, “The trial judge erred in law when he assumed jurisdiction over the subject of the suit by concluding that the matter is for the purpose of determining who has power to regulate survey practice in Nigeria.

“The crux of the matter before the court relates to administration of state land which does not fall within the jurisdiction of the Federal High Court as contemplated and provided in Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“By the provisions of Section 1 of the Land Use Act, the control and management of land is vested in the Governor of a State and the Federal High Court lacks the requisite jurisdiction to entertain such matters by virtue of Section 251 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 (as amended).

“The lower court was in error to have assumed jurisdiction by relying on paragraph 25 of the Concurrent Legislative List as being the provision regulating the Survey practice.

“The Federal High Court does not have jurisdiction to determine the act or activities of the state as it relates to administration and management of state land.”

The Appellants stated that the provision of Section 5 of Survey Law of Lagos State was to the effect that consent was required to survey State land and same does not in any way regulate the practice of survey as a profession.

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