Survey Plan In The Acquisition Of Land In Nigeria

WHAT IS A SURVEY PLAN: A survey plan is a document that measures the boundary of a parcel of land to give an accurate measurement and description of that land. According to Black’s Law Dictionary (Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th edition), a survey plan is referred to a map indicating the measurement of a tract of land, its boundaries and its contents.  According to Obumneme A Ezeonu in his book Survey Plan and Land Cases “A survey plan is a specialized map of a parcel of land created by thoroughly examining and measuring the property .It determines and delineates boundary locations, building locations and physical features and other items of special importance.

More than just a map of a property, a land survey plan is an important legal document that displays the exact legal boundaries of a property and applicable aspects of the registered title.” The survey  plan spells out the name of the owner of the land which has been surveyed, the address of the land, the description of the land, the size of the land, the numbers of the beacon, the surveyor’s name, the date it was carried out and a stamp from the registered surveyor who did the work. The survey plan also helps in defining the status of the land.

A survey plan is attenuated and codified in Nigeria by the Survey Plan Act 1990.It is a very important document and it is required for almost all land transactions. It is needed for deed preparation, confirmation of record copy submission, land information certificate processing, title processing, transfer of title, obtaining of loan from bank, mortgage processing etc.

The survey plan shows the following information:

The title of the survey (the name of the owner).

  1. The address and description of the land surveyed.
  2. The size of the land surveyed.
  3. The drawn out portion of the land surveyed.
  4. The beacon numbers.
  5. The surveyor who drew up the survey plan and the date it was drawn up
  6. A stamp showing the land is either free from government acquisition or not.


WHO IS A SURVEYOR: A surveyor is a person who has the skills to accurately find out the position of points and the distances and angles between them. These points are usually positions on the surface of the earth. There are different types of surveyors. A construction or building surveyor is the person who has to make sure that buildings are put up in the correct place and fit with planning and building laws.

A quantity surveyor is one keeps track of cost on a building project. A hydrographic surveyor measures points to do with water such as rivers, lakes and oceans. A marine surveyor is the person who finds out the position of underground mines for example gold mines or coal mines.

In Nigeria, there are bodies that regulate the activities of surveyors such as Nigeria Institution of Surveyors and Surveyor Council of Nigeria. To this end, it is necessary to retain the services of a professional surveyor who is duly registered to carry out survey of a land.  This is to enable the owner of the land to have detailed information about the land and to be advised on the best part of the land to build on to reduce the possibility of breaking building regulations as well as make projections on certain problems that might be encountered in future while using the land.


THE USE OF SURVEY PLAN IN LAND TRANSACTION: The major reason why a land is being surveyed is to get what is known as land information. Before a transaction is completed over a plot of land, it is always advisable to chart the survey plan presented for the land to basically find out whether it falls under government acquisition and as well authenticate the claim of ownership to the land.

While charting a survey plan can be done by private individual or organizations, it is also one of the procedures involved in the issuance of certificate of occupancy or Governors Consent to persons who have applied for them at the States land bureau. It also defines the particular land in question in the case of deed of assignment.

It is pertinent to state at this juncture that in an action for declaration of land, it is very important to tender the survey plan of the land in order to identify the land. The principle governing identity of land in an action for declaration of title is that identity of the land in dispute must be ascertainable with certainty. The litmus test all the time is that a surveyor armed with the proceedings must be able to identify or produce the plan of the land in dispute. See Adjei V. kwadzo 10 WACA 274.

Furthermore, it is settled law that where parties file different survey plan on both sides, it is necessary to file a composite plan as the identity of the land in dispute can only be ascertained by a comparison of the three survey plans. In order to discharge the burden placed on the plaintiff, it is mandatory he files a composite survey plan see Nwokafor V. Ifeyinwa Agumadu (2009) 3 NWLR 638. Also, every survey plan must be countersigned by the Surveyor-General of the state. A survey plan that is not countersigned by the Surveyor-General is inadmissible no matter how well or properly drawn it is. See Atolagbe V. Shorun (1985) 1 NWLR (Pt 2) 360.


IS SURVEY PLAN A TITLE TO LAND: The term title means the legal right to own a thing especially land or property or a document indicating that a person owns the right to a thing or property as the case may be. Title to land could mean an entitlement in law to the land. Such a title may be absolute or unrestricted or may be limited or restricted. When title is absolute, it is synonymous with ownership and it is not qualified by the superior right of another person through whom title is derived.

A limited or restricted title is a subtraction from, and at the same time part and parcel of such superior title. Some valid title to land includes but is not limited to certificate of occupancy, Deed of Assignment, Irrevocable power of Attorney, Excision (Gazzetted)

A survey plan is not a title to land; it is only a document that is needed to give accurate measurement and description of the land. The survey plan is needed to draft a deed of assignment which is the document that transfers title to land.  Furthermore, when the deed has been executed by both parties, it is to be accompanied with the survey plan of the property to perfect title,that is obtaining Governor’s consent, stamping the document and registering same.

A survey plan is an important document in real estate business as it shows both the measurement of the land and whether the land is marked for Government Acquisition. Where a land is marked for acquisition by the government and is bought by an individual, such individual is likely to encounter problem in future hence a survey plan helps to avoid that. It is advisable to obtain survey plan from a registered surveyor and same countersigned by the Surveyor –General of the State.

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