In search of so­lu­tions to men­ace of ‘Omo oniles’ in La­gos

Daily Trust - - EKO TRUST -

Con­tin­ued from pre­vi­ous page plac­ards with in­scrip­tions such as: ‘BRF, give us peace in Oke Og­bodo,’ ‘we’re tired of Omo onile,’ ‘No more Aja­gung­bale,’ among oth­ers.

They pre­sented a let­ter ad­dressed to the then gover­nor, Ba­batunde Fashola and signed by their act­ing chairman, Olalekan La­sisi. The pro­test­ers lamented that the men­ace of the Omo oniles in their com­mu­nity had re­sulted in the death of many peo­ple in the area, one of whom was a land­lord.

Re­cently, Oba of La­gos, Oba Ril­wan Aki­olu, rained ‘royal curses’ on land grab­bers in the state, saying those who had cho­sen to earn a liv­ing through land grab­bing would even­tu­ally die wretched.

He said: “The Obas and chiefs can de­rive ben­e­fits from the God given re­sources but with the way they are do­ing it now, it is crim­i­nal and not good enough. “They should go to the ap­pro­pri­ate author­i­ties and learn how to do it.

‘’It is their lands and they are en­ti­tled to its ben­e­fits. Even my own re­la­tion, I have called him and warned him. I have taken the mat­ter up to the fed­eral gov­ern­ment that they should drive all of them from that place (Ajah-Badore shores).

“I say it and I stand by it; let the heav­ens fall and I’m pre­pared to face any con­se­quence. There is a road align­ment in Eti-Osa that some crim­i­nal minded per­sons have been sell­ing.They will be dealt with and if care is not taken, they will go to prison. That is very cer­tain.”

In spite of Aki­olu’s ‘royal curses’, the land grab­bers have con­tin­ued to have a field day. Last month, La­gos State gov­ern­ment set up a Task Force to check the men­ace of land grab­bing in the State, just at it vowed to tackle the ac­tiv­i­ties of land grab­bers pop­u­larly called Omo-Onile with the full de­ploy­ment of re­sources of gov­ern­ment and ap­pli­ca­ble law once and for all.

The state’s At­tor­ney Gen­eral and Com­mis­sioner for Jus­tice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, who spoke at the in­au­gu­ra­tion, said the ad­min­is­tra­tion of Gover­nor Ak­in­wunmi Am­bode is determined to ap­ply the full weight of the law to per­ma­nently ad­dress the is­sue, adding that the havoc and un­rest be­ing caused by land grab­bers was no longer ac­cept­able.

He dis­closed that hence­forth, any­body who uses threat of arms or phys­i­cal threat to dis­pos­sess peo­ple of their le­git­i­mate prop­erty will be treated as a crim­i­nal in ac­cor­dance with Sec­tions 52, 53 and 281 of the Crim­i­nal Law of La­gos State.

He ex­plained that sec­tion 281 of the crim­i­nal law in­cluded land as things ca­pa­ble of be­ing stolen, while sec­tions 52 and 53 of the law pre­scribe a jail term of two years for any per­son who forcibly en­ters or takes pos­ses­sion of land in a man­ner likely to cause a breach of the peace against a per­son en­ti­tled by law to the pos­ses­sion of the land.

He said: “In re­cent years, land grab­bers have caused havoc and un­rest in dif­fer­ent parts of the state by dis­pos­sess­ing le­git­i­mate land own­ers of their prop­er­ties thereby sti­fling com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties in the state.

“It is there­fore im­por­tant that the state gov­ern­ment not only in­den­ti­fies the ef­fects of the prob­lems be­ing per­pe­trated by these un­scrupu­lous el­e­ments on com­mer­cial ac­tiv­i­ties and peace of the cit­i­zenry but also finds last­ing so­lu­tions to the men­ace. That is the rea­son­ing be­hind the set-up of this Task Force.

“Fur­ther­more, the need to pro­tect in­vestors and main­tain law and or­der also led to the set­ting up of the com­mit­tee. This, by im­pli­ca­tion, will en­cour­age the ver­i­fi­ca­tion of le­gal claims through lit­i­ga­tion rather than re­sort­ing to vi­o­lence,” the At­tor­ney Gen­eral ex­plained.

Last week, the leg­isla­tive arm of gov­ern­ment in La­gos also gave a bite to the ongoing cru­sade against land grab­bing, when it passed a bill to pro­hibit force­ful en­try and il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of landed prop­er­ties in the state.

Ac­cord­ing to the pro­vi­sions of the bill, land grab­bers now face a max­i­mum and min­i­mum of 21 years and five years’ im­pris­on­ment.

There are also var­i­ous fine im­po­si­tions for in­di­vid­u­als or groups con­victed of the of­fence.

The bill pro­vides for pro­hi­bi­tion of force­ful land take over, en­try by force, il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of prop­erty, use of land agents, il­le­gal use of law en­force­ment agents, en­croach­ing with a weapon, sale of prop­erty with­out author­ity and pro­fes­sional mis­con­duct among oth­ers, with their at­ten­dant pun­ish­ments as re­gards the par­tic­u­lar of­fence.

The pas­sage of the bill into law in La­gos State is seen as a huge step to­wards a last­ing so­lu­tion to the ac­tiv­i­ties of the land grab­bers, pop­u­larly known as Omo Onile or Aja­gung­bale, which have be­come an age-long men­ace in the state.

The law pro­hibits force­ful en­try and il­le­gal oc­cu­pa­tion of landed prop­er­ties, vi­o­lent and fraud­u­lent con­ducts in re­la­tion to landed prop­er­ties in La­gos State and for connected pur­poses.

Speaker of the As­sem­bly, Mu­dashiru Obasa, urged Gover­nor Am­bode to sign the bill into law for en­force­ment.

Res­i­dents of La­gos have com­mended the strides be­ing taken by the ex­ec­u­tive and leg­isla­tive arm of La­gos to nip land grab­bing in the bud, saying the ges­ture came at the time the ac­tiv­i­ties of the grab­bers could no longer be tol­er­ated.

A univer­sity lec­turer, Mr.Has­san Su­lai­mon told Eko Trust that the anti-land bill grab­bing signed by the Speaker of the House of As­sem­bly in the state would go a long way in curb­ing the ac­tiv­i­ties of land grab­bers and dis­cour­ag­ing po­ten­tial ones in the state.

He urged Gover­nor Ak­in­wunmi Am­bode to ac­cel­er­ate the pas­sage of the bill into law in or­der to en­sure that that the full weight of the law is brought to bear on the per­pe­tra­tors of the heinous crime in the state.

“I want to say that I am im­pressed with the ef­forts be­ing made by the ex­ec­u­tive and leg­isla­tive arm of gov­ern­ment in the state to tackle the men­ace of land grab­bing head long. The state can­not af­ford to con­tin­u­ally live in fear of known crim­i­nals threat­en­ing our lives and prop­er­ties. The penal­ties rec­om­mended for vi­o­la­tors of the anti- land grab­bing were in or­der. I hon­estly hope that the gover­nor should give accelerated as­sent to the bill to be­come law in the in­ter­est of all and sundry,’’ he said.

A so­cial com­men­ta­tor, Mr Ha­keem Omo­tolani, also said the state gover­nor should sign the bill to law, while the ci­ti­zens of the state should also try as much as pos­si­ble to co­op­er­ate with the gov­ern­ment to free the state of so­cial nui­sances

‘’The ci­ti­zens should also do their bits af­ter the bill might have be­come law. They should be on the look out for those land grab­bers and re­port them ac­cord­ingly to law en­force­ment agents to do the need­ful. The law en­force­ment agents should also ex­er­cise their du­ties ex­cep­tion­ally with­out fear or favour. That way I think the law can have mean­ing and the state can be freed of the ac­tiv­i­ties of land grab­bers’’, he added.

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