Land Use Act 2004: Its effects on engineers and engineering (2)
Continued from last week
As it is at that point, the land ceases to have any commercial significance with no financial value.
Under the Section 28 of the Act, sub-section 2 defines “overriding public interest” in the case of a statutory right of occupancy as; (a). the alienation by the occupier by assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sub-lease, or otherwise of any right of occupancy or part thereof contrary to the provisions of this Act or of any regulations made thereunder; (b). the requirement of the land by the Government of the State or by a Local Government in the State, in either case for public purposes within the State, or the requirement of the land by the Government of the Federation for public purposes of the Federation;
(c) the requirement of the land for mining purposes or oil pipelines or for any purpose connected therewith. 3. Overriding Public Interest in the case of a customary right of occupancy means- (a) the requirement of the land by the Government of the state or by a Local Government in the State, in either case for public purposes within the State, or the requirement of the land by the Government of the Federation for public purposes of the Federation; (b) the requirement of the land for mining purposes or oil pipelines or for any purpose connected therewith; (c) the requirement of the land for the extraction of building materials; (d) the alienation by the occupier by sale, assignment, mortgage, transfer of possession, sub-lease, bequest or otherwise of the right of occupancy without the requisite consent or approval.
The Governor shall revoke a right of occupancy in the event of the issue of a notice by or on behalf of the President if such notice declares such land to be required by the Government for public purposes.
The Effects on Engineering
For clarity of this presentation, we shall restrict our discourse to Petroleum Engineering. The nexus between the Land Use Act and Petroleum Engineering is in the very nature of land which houses crude oil from which Petroleum and its other brethren are derived.
The provisions of the Land Use Act as it relates to individual persons differ in all entireties when it involves the prospecting, exploration and mining of crude oil, for at this level, it involves the entrant of corporations due to the complexities of the embarkation.
When crude oil is discovered on a land, the provisions of Section 28(2)(c) of the Land Use Act, mentioned is invoked.
Generally, the Land Use Act regulates compensation claims for land appropriated for oil-related purposes. Section 29(2)(b) refers to the Petroleum Act, which requires that ‘fair and adequate compensation for the disturbance of surface or other rights’ be paid to the owner or occupier of licensed or leased land.
In essence, compensation claims are limited to economic improvements on land such as economic trees, crops, and houses, but exclude future earnings and loss of use of the land.
From the perspective of the oil companies, the Land Use Act brought advantages and disadvantages. Perhaps the main advantage is that community conflicts or prolonged negotiations over land can no longer delay land acquisition for oil operations. Previously, conflicts over land could delay these oil operations.For instance, in the case of Ereku v. Military Administrator of Mid- Western State, Mc Dermott’s operations were delayed by a local dispute with the Itsekiri Communal Land Trustees.
Compulsory land acquisition by the government renders the process quicker and more efficient for the oil companies. A key disadvantage of the Land Use Act for oil companies is the payment of rent to the Governor rather than to the actual land owners. Since the land owners receive inadequate compensations, they may become more aggrieved by oil operations. It could be more beneficial for an oil company to pay compensation to the actual land owners rather than to the Governor in order to prevent any potential dissatisfaction with oil operations within the communities.
On the whole, the disadvantages to oil companies may have outweighed the advantages. The Land Use Act has allowed the government and oil companies to obtain land for economic development, which was one of the key objectives of the Act.
Conclusively, the Land Use Act 2004 do have its effects and nexus with the Engineering profession, depending on the angle you glean it from. However, this work may be said to shy away from the creation of a thesis on this issue but in its paucity, there is contained the essentials of the relationship.
Akpedeye SAN,OFR was the former attorney general and commissioner for justice in Delta State.
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