Land: Benue Commissioner Cautions Against Sharp Practices

  • As BenGIS Commences Digitisation Project

By Amos Aar, Makurdi

BENUE State Commissioner for Lands, Survey and Solid Minerals, Mr Bernard Unenenge, has urged members of the public to stop acquiring landed property from traditional titleholders to avoid being defrauded.

The commissioner gave the advice last Monday in his Office while interacting with newsmen who went to the ministry to observe the reconstruction project undertaken by the Benue Geographic Information Services, BenGIS.

He counselled that people interested in acquiring land should go to the ministry directly to avoid sharp practices in order not to end up in wrong hands.

“My advice to members of the public at all times is that, they should stop going to traditional title holders to acquire landed property because it puts the person acquiring land into trouble. For instance, cases that they have surveyed and over time you go there to buy land without first of all going to the ministry to check, when you go and apply for this land from members of the public without crosschecking, sometimes when you come to the ministry to check after you have bought it, you discover that what you were given was not the right thing.

“So members of the public should always report to the ministry when they want to buy landed property so that they will not end up in the hands of fraudsters who will deceive them and collect their money,” the Commissioner advised.

Mr Unenge also urged the public to apply for land titles now that Governor Samuel Ortom is signing Certificates of Occupancy.

“The ministry is now giving land titles at a soft landing process. So members of the public should take advantage of this period and apply for their titles because when you have land title, you have wealth, you can use it to get loan.”

He disclosed that there are many openings and that the governor is trying seriously to sign Certificate of Occupancy (C-of-O) and he has already signed up to 2000 C-of-Os to enable people to become titleholders.

The commissioner, who lamented over the sharp practices in land administration, assured that when BenGIS project, which has already commenced, is fully implemented, it will do away with that challenge as land titleholders will be captured on BenGIS servers so that there will be no more cases of hiding people’s files to deny them ownership.

“The issue of sharp practices in land administration is not a new thing and it is not common in Benue State alone. Everywhere you have land, even among the elites themselves; people take people’s land and all that. People want to acquire large land and keep it to appreciate and then you have people who monitor our allocation. When people are allocated these pieces of land and they don’t go there on time to take possession, you see them trying to go there quickly to maybe buy it more, even traditional titleholders themselves who will go into agreement to survey this land and give them what belongs to them and take what they want to take, sometimes when people are allocated land and they don’t go there on time, they go in and sell what was originally allocated by government and in turn allocate this same property to people.

“So, sharp practices come in many ways, sometimes even the staff of the ministry are involved in these practices in connection with either the traditional titleholders or the land speculators and you know, in every society, you always have Judas.

“But like I told you, that with the coming on board of BenGIS, once it is fully implemented, when allocations are being done, they are captured in our system and stored on our servers. So the issue of short changing, maybe taking somebody’s file and hiding will no longer be here. That is why we always say that BenGIS will checkmate or eradicate sharp practices in land administration,” Unenge said.

He declared that anyone who has been allocated land but is having such issues should report immediately to the Ministry of Lands, Survey and Solid Minerals for appropriate measures to be taken.

Asked how his ministry could solve Air Force/Ugondo land crisis in Makurdi, the commissioner said the crisis was beyond his ministry and that was why the state governor stepped in to resolve it.


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