Clement C. Chigbo
Senior Lecturer, College of Law
Afe Babalola University, Ado-Ekiti, Nigeria.
Land is elemental. It is where life begins and it is where life ends. Land provides the physical substratum for human activity; it is the essential base of all social and commercial interaction. The significance of land in human affairs is, therefore, incalculable, although it is only in an era of global environmental threat that we slowly begin to realize how fragile and irreplaceable the rich resource on which we so utterly depend is. Land ownership bites both upon two concepts or forms of ownership namely, the principal or dominant right and ownership of third party rights which are commonly known as subordinate real rights. This paper examines the nature of ownership of land and derivative or subordinate real-rights under English law drawing some comparison with Romanic-Dutch ownership while arguing that the Anglo-American estate or interest in land is a mere semantic conundrum. It is the position of this writer that the concept of ownership in English law of real property which dominantly influences the Nigerian real property law and other common law countries like the Bahamas and Jamaica, among others, has not brought the desired clarity to the real property jurisprudence in Nigeria. The problems faced by purchasers of real estate in some common law jurisdictions are also examined, howbeit, briefly. The article seeks to advance solution to these problems thereby suggesting that a land registration system of some model should be adopted in Nigeria and the Bahamas to protect purchasers of real estates and guarantee greater security of title to land.