Are you a non-Nigerian currently residing in Nigeria for work or other reasons? Or are you a foreigner interested in investing in real estate in Nigeria but unsure of whether it’s legal to own property as a foreigner? This article aims to provide clarity on the legality of foreign land ownership in Nigeria.


We will be exploring the definition of a foreigner in the context of real estate transactions in Nigeria. This will be done by examining the provisions of the Acquisition of Land by Alien Law (ALAL) of both Lagos and Cross River State. It’s worth noting that the definition of a foreigner is not different from that of other states’ Acquisition of Land by Alien Law.

The ALAL refers to foreigners as “Alien” and Sections 8 of the ALAL of both Lagos State and Cross River State defines an alien as;

“i. Any individual other than a Nigerian;

ii. Any company or association or body of persons corporate or unincorporated other than –

iii. A body corporate established specifically by or under any Act or law which empowers that body to acquire and hold land: or

iv. A corporate body incorporated under the provisions of the Company and Allied Matters Act 1990 or any other Act or Law containing general provisions for incorporation where such corporate body is composed solely of Nigerians, or under the provisions of a written law relating to local government in Cross River State; or

v. A co-operative society composed solely of Nigerians and registered under the provisions of any Co-operative Societies Act or the Co-operative Societies Law;”


Foreigners are allowed to own land in Nigeria, but they must meet certain conditions. The Acquisition of Land by Alien Law (ALAL) regulates whether or not a foreigner can own land in Nigeria. State Governors or Executive Councils have the authority to establish procedures for foreigners to acquire land. Various states in Nigeria, including Lagos State, Cross River State, and Akwa Ibom State, have their own Acquisition of Land by Alien Law.

It is important to note that the procedure for a foreigner to own a property in Lagos State may slightly vary from the procedure for a foreigner to own a property in another state within Nigeria.

We will examine the provisions of the Acquisition of Land by Alien Law of Lagos State and Cross River State. Sections 2 and 1 of the ALAL of Cross River and Lagos State respectively provide that;

“1. No alien may acquire any interest in or right in or over any land from a Nigerian, unless such alien has been approved in writing by the commissioner in that behalf, and then only under an instrument which , and the terms whereof, have also been so approved.

2. Where any such right or interest has been lawfully acquired by an alien, such right or interest shall not be transferred, alienated, to any other alien under any process of law, without the approval in writing of the Commissioner of such other alien and of the instrument and the terms thereof

3. Any transaction and any instrument under which an alien purports to acquire any interest or right over any land which has not been duly approved in accordance with the provisions of this section shall be null and void and of no legal effect”

From the above provision, we can infer the following;

a. A foreigner can only acquire or own land in Nigeria so long as the instrument used for the property transaction has been approved by the Commissioner or Governor as the case may be.

b. Where a foreigner has acquired a landed property in Nigeria and wishes to transfer it to another foreigner, such transfer can only be done with the written approval of the Commissioner or Governor

c. Where a foreigner acquires land without the written consent of the Commissioner of Governor, such transaction shall be null and void


Having considered the position of the law in Nigeria with regards to whether or not a foreigner can own land in Nigeria, it can be inferred that an important factor amongst other factors a foreigner must consider before acquiring property in Nigeria is the consent of the Governor or Commissioner of the State in which the property to be bought is located.

Nigeria consists of 36 states, and when foreigners are looking to purchase land, the transactions are governed by the Acquisition of Land by Alien Law of each State. It is important to note that the laws and procedures of each state may differ slightly from one another. Therefore, it is crucial for a foreigner to make extra efforts to ensure that they are properly advised with specific reference to the prevailing laws and procedures in the state they choose to buy land from.

It is crucial to seek professional guidance when buying land in Nigeria to avoid falling victim to fraudulent real estate transactions. You may also find out how real estate transactions are carried out in Nigeria here

Looking for guidance on owning property in Nigeria as a foreigner or foreign-owned organization? Don’t hesitate to contact us HERE or You can contact us by clicking on the WhatsApp icon on this page and we will be happy to assist you.





Cynthia Tishion
Cynthia is a lawyer and currently serves as Head of Corporate / Commercial Services at LEX – PRAXIS. With her passion for business and entrepreneurship, she is actively engaged in creating awareness on the legal aspect of businesses through various platforms such as writing, public speaking engagements.

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