WHEN THE SURVEYOR SURVEYS YOU INTO TROUBLE.
A lot of real estate consultants have been surveyed into big trouble by quack and unregistered surveyors. I have had bitter experience dealing with unregistered surveyors and have had reasons to arrest, institute criminal actions against them who hide in the guise of operating as a registered company with a corporate office and in pretence deceived people as though they are licenced. The actions and inactions of this quack surveyors who act in deceit and unethical behaviours not only affect the integrity of transactions but serves as a dent on the other professionals involve in a transaction.
Apart from the lawyer, who is saddled with the responsibility of ensuring and aiding the purchaser of land/property in pre-sale search and enquiry as to ascertain the authenticity of the land, preparation of legal documents (deeds) and registration of the land, the surveyor is the second most important person in the chain of land transactions. The reason for the above position is not far-fetched as briefly outlined below and subsequent series:
• Determination of Exact Measurement of Land: In Nigeria, land is measured in different forms, depending on the location. Some are measured in square metres, per plots, etc. It is the job of the surveyor to determine the exact size of the land.
• Proper Identification of the Land: A major issue which continues to crop up in land litigation is the proper identity of the land. There is usually a burden placed on the claimant by Section 131 of the Evidence Act 2011, to show the exact land being claimed, especially where the identity of the land is in issue or dispute. What other best means can a party prove this other than by the production of a registered Survey plan.
• Requirement for Perfecting Title to Land: In all States of the Federation, a survey plan is one of the requirements for the registration of land and for the processing of a Certificate of Occupancy (C of O).
• Competent witness in Court: By virtue of section 83 of the Evidence Act 2011, the maker of a document is the proper person through whom a document can be tendered or received in evidence by the court. Thus, Surveyors are usually called upon to enable the party in court tender the survey plan to the court as evidence and he is therefore cross-examined by the opposing lawyer.
Read Also: LAND FRAUD ”SCAMMING THE SCAMMERS”
How Fake Surveyors Operate
Fake or quack surveyors employ various tactics in a bid to mislead and defraud unsuspecting land buyers and agents. This can only be detected and avoided, where the buyer consults some other professionals especially his property lawyer, who would assist in verifying the authenticity of every surveyor they engage. Failure to do this, could incur serious problems and lengthy/avoidable litigations, as any survey plan prepared by quacks lack’s legal value for the purpose of any land transactions.
THEIR MODE OF OPERATION:
• They undertake fake coordinates of the land: A registered surveyor would usually use scientific tools and equipment such as Solar Compass, the Chain, Transit & Theodolite, the Level etc, to produce the coordinates of the land and thereafter compare the coordinates with that on the survey master plan, which can be found at the office of the Surveyor-General of the State. Where this is not done, the result is that the whole survey is not-reliable and nothing but a mere piece of paper and in some cases, their survey would show that the land is situate in a different location from that which the survey is indicating.
• They give Inaccurate Measurement of Land: It is a common practice among fake or quack surveyors to “manufacture” square metres as to give the impression that a plot of land is a big one, only to discover that it is short of the size presented to the purchaser or it exceeds the real size of the land.
• They Mislead Purchasers of Land and their agents on the position of Government’s regulation on the land. By virtue of section 1 of the Land Use Act, all land in a given state are vested in the Governor to hold in trust for the citizens. The government in exercise of that power can designate land for various purposes and can even acquire any parcel of land, subject only to payment of compensation. The watery survey plan prepared by the fake surveyor would not reveal this.
• Forgery of Surveyors’ Seal and signatures: Another antic of Quacks is that they also forge the signatures of genuine surveyors all in a bid to give some semblance of authenticity to their deceit.
• Forgery of “Free From acquisition” stamps: An unsuspecting person who deals with un-registered surveyor, can be misled by the ‘free from acquisition’ seal to deceive the buyer into the mistaken belief that the land is free of government acquisition. This is very dangerous and thus a prudent buyer must consult his lawyer especially a property lawyer and one who is in the field and based on constant interface with surveyors would have come to identify the quacks amongst the surveyors.
• They Distort existing survey: Properly so called is that they attempt to distort or alter existing survey plan, by shifting the beacons to suit their illicit agenda, which would usually not tally with those in the master plan survey at the office of the Surveyor-General.
In conclusion is imperative you adhere and adopt our Property Verification Checklist recommended by our legal team at www.ibejulekkilawyers.com below:
• True ownership of the property
• Validity of the documents presented
• Confirmation of survey coordinates
• Possibility of litigation
• Possibility of stolen land/property
• Government barred lands
• Incomplete transactions
• History of previous owners
• Land taxes owed
• Incomplete titles
• Hidden fees
There are more issues on the subject matter which have been discussed in our other article and I recommend you read it as it addresses the intrigues of quack and unregistered surveyors.
Do not hesitate to email (email@example.com) or call us at +2348034869295 if you have any concern relating to the subject matter or you want us to conduct a due diligence/verification on your property.
THE QUACK SURVEYOR: RUN FOR YOUR DEAR LIFE!
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