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Real Estate Corruption in Nigeria

Heads of anti-corruption agencies stated recently that the government should publish the names of property owners in Nigeria as one of the ways to cub money laundering and other forms of financial crimes.

Prior to this recommendation, the Nigerian Institution of Estate Surveyors and Valuers (NIESV) had signed a pact with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) designed to track property transactions in the country. The deal is yet to be effective. Regardless, the places the search ought to begin, according to the nation’s anti-graft chiefs, are the land registries across Nigeria, Bennett Oghifo reports

Prospective land or property owners pay a lot of money to the state and federal governments for the documentation of land and buildings but it is a wonder the identities of the owners of these properties are shrouded in secrecy, even by public officials.

Some states, including the Federal Capital Territory, have sophisticated geographic information systems (GIS) but no names pop up at a push of a computer button, as it is designed to be. Nobody knows who owns what. Buildings are left un-occupied in Abuja, Lagos and in other cities for years and, untaxed unlike what is done in countries where property contributes to the GDP.

The nation’s anti-graft chiefs have called for disclosure and need for land registries to publish the owners of properties around the country, describing asset declaration as a veritable tool for fighting corruption. They also argued that assets should be declared every two years instead of the present four years and called for stiffer sanctions for erring officers or individuals.

These came to fore as Heads of the various anti-corruption agencies met in Abuja, recently, to harmonise gaps in Nigeria’s implementation of the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and also map out strategies for the adoption and implementation of a National Anticorruption Strategy.

A statement by Mr Sylvester Tunde Atere, Outreach and Communications Officer, United Nations Office on Drug and Crime (UNODC) said the Heads of the anti-corruption agencies “recommended adequate and strategic funding plans of anti-corruption agencies akin to Marshal Plan which gives a clearer picture and exact amount needed to fund the anti-corruption agencies to avoid overt dependence on foreign aids. They will also want review of obsolete laws to reflect the reality of present trend in Nigeria.”

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