By MONSURU OLOWOOPEJO
Hard times awaits those called Omo-Onile and Ajagungbale as the Lagos State House of Assembly has proposed a three-year jail term for any person or group of people who engage in forcible entry and occupation of landed properties in the state.
This was part of the provisions of the State Properties Protection Bill, 2013 which has scaled through the second reading on the floor of the House.
The bill seeks to regulate the use of forceful or unreasonable force to take over any landed property in the State.
Atrocities by land grabbers
Speaking on the necessity for the bill, Chairman, Committee on Lands and Housing, Bayo Osinowo said if the bill is eventually passed, it would address so many atrocities committed by land grabbers in the State.
Osinowo said, 60 percent of Certificates of Occupancy (C. of .O) are fake. This is part of the anomalies the bill will correct when passed.
“In Lagos State, land is our major resource. It is our petrol compared to oil producing states in the country. Therefore nothing will be too much to protect its sanctity,” Osinowo noted.
Also speaking, Sanai Agunbiade explained that the bill will also take care of land agents who parade themselves and seize landed properties illegally without recourse to the law. “The bill would prevent Omo-onile from potential buyer(s) who are usually harassed and intimidated before and during construction work,”Agunbiade stated.
He further explained that the bill would prevent anyone, who without lawful authority, uses or threatens violence for the purpose of securing entry into any landed property for himself or for any other person(s).
The bill stipulates a fine of N200,000 or two years imprisonment for any person found guilty of the section on forceful possession of lands.
The bill which is a private member bill states that anyone found with fire arm, weapon or chemical material or in company or any –person so armed would be liable to a death sentence.
In his submission, Mudashiru Obasa who had a contrary view on the propose bill said an existing law which addresses same issue should be considered instead of passing another bill.
However, if the bill is passed, a special offence court shall try any person found guilty, while any one contravening it will be liable for three years imprisonment or N300,000.
The bill has been committed to the Committees on Lands and Housing as well as Judiciary, Human Rights and Public Petitions to report back in a month.
Virtually all members who spoke on the merits and demerits of the bill supported it with the conviction that when passed into law, it would stop the activities of Ajagungbale (land grabbers) and nefarious activities of Omo-Onile in the state which had hitherto hindered smooth land transactions in the State.