What does the constitution stipulate?
People must be put in their previous positions in the event of any unsavory incident; thus, something good must be provided to balance or reduce the effects of damage or loss. In land administration, this is very true when individuals have legitimate claims or interests in land. These interests are cut short or tampered with by the state in its quest to embark on developmental projects and in some instances, the creation of natural reserves or national parks which will be in the interest of the public. The state’s action is enshrined in the Constitution and other ancillary legal instruments (for example, the State Lands Act 125); therefore, the state has the prerogative to terminate respective interests held by individuals by compulsorily acquiring the land.
Compensation payment is a corollary of the compulsory acquisition by the state; thus, the appropriation of interests necessitates the payment of a certain (determined) amount to the respective interest holders. Compensation may not always be about payment of money but in some instances, resettlement of people from their previous place(s) of abode to a new one (especially in the cases of national parks and reserves, games, and the construction of dams). Compensation has long been cached in the laws of the country and has been a practice carried out to appease individuals who have their lands taken away from them but has attained a certain preponderance in land administration since there is an incessant demand for land for projects these days.
Compensation as a concept, encapsulates profound underlying topics which make it a complete thought and practice. The idea of paying individuals who have their land interests appropriated or cut short by the state is ensconced in issues such as market value, severance, injurious affection, and disturbance. These are specific elements which make up the compensation payment idea complete. They are indicators or pointers which enable the state or the acquiring authority pay individuals what they are due by virtue of a compulsory acquisition. Ideally, one can argue that the most important purpose of compensation should be paying for the value of land acquire—obviously the ultimate reason for the birth of compensation payment—but issues do emerge in the passage of time, and therefore need to be considered. One may be entitled to just a compensation element or more depending on the circumstance. It is very important to note that the aforementioned elements must be clearly defined and identified in the event of an acquisition so as to avert the failure of fully compensating or overcompensating individuals.
Market value and other factors
First on the compensation repertoire is market value. Market value is the price a property(landed) will go for in an open market between a willing seller and a willing buyer after being given accurate information regarding the property on a date of valuation without any compulsion. Market value in simple words is how much one will pay to buy a property. In the event of an acquisition, the service of a valuer will be needed: he is trained to determine the value of a property affected by the acquisition. Valuation of the property is carried out by following approaches which identify with the use and purpose of the property being appropriated. Next to market value is severance. Severance in the case of an acquisition simply means taking just a portion of a full land; thus, a portion has been separated from the main land. For instance, the government may be seeking to expand a road but unfortunately, the expected project runs into a portion of an acre of land which was in use for agricultural purpose. In this instance, the land has been severed into two — one for the road and the other, for the agricultural purpose. Guess the effect of this on the farmer—gross inconvenience! The above two have been explained in one paragraph because of the shared correlation they have with land. Thus, individuals may have had a direct interest in the land.
Accordingly, some individuals may not have direct interest in the land that has been affected by the acquisition but they stand the chance of being compensated for one or two reasons. This possibility of receiving compensation though one has no interest in the land appropriated is as a result of the magic wand of the concept called injurious affection. Injurious affection is the telling negative effect a project or undertaking may have on neighboring lands or areas. The effects (s) of the project on neighboring or abutting areas may be viewed in two ways: first while the project is proposed and undertaken; and, when the project is ongoing (in the case of construction, the construction period). For instance, a proposal to put up an interchange or an overhead may adversely affect a filling station which erstwhile had a lot of customers trooping in but now has the customers use another link just because of the project. On the other side of the injurious affection, a construction work may also affect a school very close or abutting the land upon which the construction is being carried out— the noise from the construction will be quite unbearable which in every sense will negatively impact teaching and learning. For these reasons, compensation must be paid.
Lastly, compensation is given to individuals for having to evacuate the land that has been compulsorily acquired. Prior to the acquisition, people were engaged in profitable businesses (probably because of the location) but are now going to lose that advantage on account of the acquisition. Also, some individuals may have their children attending schools in the vicinity (close to the area affected by the acquisition) but have to register their wards in another school because of they having to move from their previous place; in such instance, they may even ask for compensation for their wards’ school uniform(s)! The list of things to be compensated for is not exhausted: there are more. Compensating individuals on account of the evacuation is called disturbance payment.
Compensation payment is justified in every sense because it is an act that respects the laws of natural justice. Restoring people to their previous position(s) is a gesture they are rightfully due especially in the case of compulsory acquisition because the appropriated land could have been used for other profitable purposes. However, the beauty of this restorative justice is marred in most cases by the poor habits of those entitled to compensation and in some regards, by the professionals (especially the valuers), and or even the acquiring body or authority. In the event of a land acquisition, the market value of the land must be determined by the valuers assigned by the state or acquiring body but these professionals are struck with the incessant demands from some of the owners to overvalue the land so as to get a higher compensating amount—few professionals are unable to act “professionally”. The acquiring body or the state may be at fault in some instances because it may fail to pay the amount the individuals are due or deliberately delay to pay on time. There are more to be done to correct these aberrations in the compensation spectrum; however, a strict application of the laws will prove even more effective in curbing these anomalies. Everyone is entitled to what is due them—not more, not less—to ensure there is an unflagging trust in the kind gesture of compensation. This will go a long way to promote development since people who have their lands taken for projects, are getting compensated.