Seeks 21-yr jail term for land-grabbers,
10 yrs for forceful re-possession

BY OLASUNKANMI AKONI

THE Lagos state government is having a running battle with land-grabbers and encroachers on state lands which deprive her of  accruable revenue.
Before the present onslaught, series of stakeholders’ meetings were held to educate communities on the consequences and inherent dangers in the nefarious act.

However, if the recent move by the state government is anything to go by, then, the menace and activities of land-grabbers will soon be a thing of the past.
A bill is currently before the Lagos State House of Assembly, proposing 21 years imprisonment for anyone convicted of land grabbing.

Repossession of property
The bill stipulates that anyone who sells land to another person knowing that such a land belongs to a third party commits an offence and is liable to 21 years imprisonment upon conviction.
In the bill titled: ‘Law to Prohibit Forceful Entry and Occupation of Landed Properties, Violent and Fraudulent Conducts in Relation to Landed Properties in Lagos State,” the lawmakers also proposed 10 years for any owner of a landed property who uses violence to seek repossession of his property.

The proposed law, which underwent public hearing, recently, prohibits anyone  from using force to take over any landed property in the state.
“Any person or group of persons who, having used force to take over a landed property in the state after the commencement of this law, commits an offence and shall, on conviction, be liable to a prison term of 21 years,” states Section 2, subsection 1 of the 17-section bill.

The law also stipulates a fine of N300, 000 or a prison term of three months for anyone who trespasses into another person’s land and refuses to leave even when the original owner of the land obtains justice.
It also bars the use of thugs, vigilantes or any other such group for the purpose of taking possession of a landed property in order to execute a court judgment.

With about seven million land documents stored in the Electronic data Management System, EDMS, at the land registry, consisting details of documented lands and properties in Lagos, land grabbers sure have tough times ahead of them.

That of course is, if citizens are willing to take the right steps guiding intending land buyers within the state, which was the case with one Mr. and Mrs. Johnson who recently fell victim of fraudster.
Eager to have their own property, the couple gathered all they had including loan from the co-operative in their offices and made payment to the property agent .

It was an offer they could not resist – two plots of land along Lekki Express Road at a price they considered quite reasonable.
In the Johnsons’ case, the couple aftr the payment went to the land bureau to document it only to find out otherwise.

Aware of the activities of illegal land allotees which occur on a regular basis, the state Land Bureau, sensitizing the people, advised, that anyone wishing to acquire properties should make proper enquiries before purchase.

Proper enquiries
To this effect, the office called on members of the public to cross check any land matter in the office to avoid falling victim to swindlers.
The most appropriate properties to buy according to the office are those whose papers have been perfected.

Having registered such, information on it is readily available at the land registry. This made it easy for future sales as the survey can be tendered at the registry for verification.
Fraudsters have for long thrived on the ignorance and sometimes reluctance of buyers to take measures confirming genuineness of properties before purchase.

Cloning of Cs of O
The Certificate of Occupancy (C-Of-O) issued with the name of the original owners on it is, for that reason not transferable. Not giving up as usual, in their several attempts to beat security, fraudsters now clone C-of-Os. Such forged papers could be detected by the authority at the point of presentation before payment is made for particular property.

According to source at the Lands Bureau, as a secondary owner, legal document of transfer of ownership known as governor’s consent can be obtained.

 

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