By Abdulwahab Abdulah and Monsur Olowopejo
Lagos state government, Monday, warned that it is set to combat the illicit criminal activities of land grabbers, also known as Omo-onile, in the state with the full arm of the law.
The warning was delivered by the government through the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem who said the state is ready to apply the full wrath of the law on anybody caught for forcibly taking another person’s land in the state.
Inaugurating a five-man Special Task Force to curb the criminal activities of land grabbers, the government said it will henceforth enforce the state government rights over land in Lagos and to also work with all security agencies to implement state government and private property rights in the state.
The terms of reference of the committee, include: “to reduce to a barest minimum the activities of persons or corporate entities who use force and intimidation to dispossess or prevent any person or entity from acquiring legitimate interest and possession of property acquired through state government or private transactions.
Beside the committee is: “to coordinate the efforts of the various agencies of government charged with enforcing the state government rights over land in Lagos and to work with all security agencies to ensure enforcement of state government and private property rights in Lagos State”.
Kazeem explained that the state government’s decision to set up the task force is in realisation that in recent years, “the land grabbers have caused havoc and unrest in different parts of the state by dispossessing legitimate land owners of their properties and thereby stifling commercial activities in the state.
“It is therefore important that the state government not only identifies the effects of the problems being perpetrated by these unscrupulous elements on commercial activities and peace of the citizenry but also find lasting solutions to the menace”, he noted.
Beside the commissioner said the task force “was to protect investors and maintain law and order” adding, “this by implication will encourage the verification of legal claims through litigation rather than resorting to violence”.
Members of the Task Force include a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Akinjide Bakare who will serve as alternate Chairman in the absence of the attorney general; representative of the Commissioner for the environment, Dr. Afolabi Abiodun; representatives of the Lands Bureau Messrs Olayinka Adebayo and Faiq Abou.
Others are Chief Security Officer to the governor, Mr. Saheed Kassim; Commander Governor’s Monitoring team, Mr. Ganiyu Adebowale; a representative of the Commissioner for Physical Planning while a staff of the ministry, Ms Mosunmola Balogun was appointed secretary.