Misplacing a property document can be very devastating to the owners because of the risks involved. If a property document goes missing (often due to carelessness), it could get into the hands of people with questionable characters tending to impersonation which may eventually translate into a hurried sale to unsuspecting persons at a giveaway price without the real owner’s consent. It is therefore imperative that once a property document goes missing owners should immediately start the recovery process which is the purpose of this article.
When property documents go missing, the next point of call is to recover a copy from the Ministry of Lands’ Registry quickly; to achieve this the following steps should be carefully undergone:
1. Apply for Court Affidavit:
A Court Affidavit is a written statement confirming the authenticity of an event by taking an oath to affirm that information, testimonial or claims are true and correct. An affidavit is usually required in Court when matters connecting it is brought is registered.
The affidavit can come from a magistrate or high court, sometimes people swear affidavits with lower courts. The most appreciated affidavit in Nigeria today is the High Court which must be duly executed with the appropriate stamps and signatures appended by authorized court staff. While swearing an affidavit, make sure to do it the proper way, that is, shun cutting corners to get it faster, if found culpable you could be charged for misleading the court (especially when the matter gets to the court).
Requirements for Getting a Court Affidavit in Nigeria for Misplaced Property Document
- Enter a High court and request to be directed to an appropriate Affidavit office, the staff there will give you a court affidavit form to fill out, sometimes to prevent cancellations on the form it’s wise to ask for guidance from the court staff. In most courts in Nigeria, guidelines including the court account numbers are pasted on the wall or a signboard as instruction.
- You will be directed on how to make payments. It’s either you use any approved commercial bank or a Point of Sale (POS) machine in the court premises for ease.
- The payment receipts should be attached to the filled form and registered in a file or keyed into a computer by the attendants.
- You will be required to submit a passport photograph, then you will be asked to wait for about 10 minutes to prepare the affidavit (including typesetting, stamping and registering).
Contents of a Court Affidavit for Misplaced Property Document
The contents of the court affidavit for loss of house document (e.g. misplaced Certificate of Occupancy) are; the name of deponent, sex, age, village, home town, local government area and state of origin. Affirmation that you own the missing document (type and details of the document should be included), dates or period the document went missing, what has been done since the said document got missing, purpose of the court affidavit, affirmation of the authentication of information supplied to the court, signature of deponent, signature of the Commissioner of Oaths and stamps and court seal.
How Much Does a Court Affidavit for Loss of Property Original Document Cost?
Court affidavit for misplaced property document cost between N800.00 (Eight Hundred Naira) to N3,000.00 (Three Thousand Naira). However, jump a queue you might be charged as much as between N5,000.00 (Five Thousand Naira) to N10,000.00 (Ten Thousand Naira) depending on the court approach. But if you want to generate an Affidavit online via the court affidavit portal
2. Advertise on National Newspapers:
One of the requirements for recovering a misplaced property document is to advertise publicly that you are looking for your document, in other words, the general public is being notified and alerted about the mission document, it is also a way of proving that your papers are truly missing. Ordinarily, you are expected to publish three (3) popular newspapers with a national spread, but due to the current economic hardship people are allowed to use lowly ranked newspapers with a national spread.
Sizes of Newspapers Used for Public Notice of Missing Property Documents
The most suitable sizes are 3×3 and 2×2. Newspaper publicity for mission documents doesn’t require very large adverts.
An example of a Newspaper Advert
Loss of Property Document
This is to inform the general public of the loss of the Original CERTIFICATE OF OCCUPANCY (C of O) belonging to Mr Kelvin Ofarda Obollo Eke in Udenu Local Government Area of Enugu State. The property is located at Plot 75B, Uchebe Street, Port Harcourt Road, at Rivers State Land Registry. All efforts to trace this document have proven abortive. If found, kindly return to the nearest police station.
3. Obtain a Police Extract
Police extract is a certified police clearance report or certificate to support a claim of misplaced property document, that is, the claimant isn’t impersonating. The report also certifies that a bearer has no criminal records of any sort which could affect the chances of recovering a copy of the missing property documents from the Ministry of Lands. The police extract can be obtained from any Police Head Offices or State Intelligent Bureau offices. It is usually referred to as the “Extract from Crime Diary” of the Nigeria Police Force.
The police extract fee can be estimated at a cost between N30,000.00 (Thirty Thousand Naira) to N60,000.00 (Sixty Thousand Naira) depending on the state and circumstances surrounding the need for police extract.
Requirements for Getting a Police Extract for Lost Property Document
This depends on whether the owner of the misplaced property document is applying for it by himself or by proxy. If it is itself, then the following items will be required to prepare the document.
- Full name
- Passport photograph
- Picture of the property in question
- Evidence of newspaper advertisement
- Copy of affidavit
- Photocopy of the lost Original document (if any)
- Any means of identification (e.g. International passport, driver’s license, National Identity Card etc.)
But if the collection is by proxy, you will be required to produce a letter of instruction from the real owner, sometimes a telephone or video call will be required to authenticate the representation.
Contents of a Police Extract from Crime Diary
The contents of the police extract are; serial no, date, time/hours, details of entry which comprises date, hours, name of applicant, applicant’s hometown and state of origin, serial number and date of affidavit, type of title document and the subject property address, the registration number, page and Volume of the missing document as registered in the Land Registry of a particular state. The purpose for the Police Extract, conclusion and signature and stamp by the officer in charge.
4. Approach the Ministry of Lands
Once there is evidence of newspaper publication, affidavit and police extract, the next step would be to approach the land registry to apply for a certified true copy of the misplaced title document of the said property. In the application for a certified true copy of the document (e.g. Certificate of Occupancy), the following documents must accompany the application:
- Court affidavit of loss
- Copies of newspaper publications and
- Police extract from crime diary
Make all the necessary payments at any commercial banks (vide designated IGR accounts), return all evidence of payments to the accounts department of the land registry and wait for up to 2 weeks to get a certified true copy of the property document. That’s if the staff at the Ministry are fast in searching for the title document(s).