By Olasunkanmi Akoni
The Lagos State Government, through the Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers (LSSTFLG), has arrested 19 suspects for offences ranging from trespass, illegal occupation, forceful land take-over and prevention of lawful entry by violence.
The suspects were arrested in connection with land situated at Plot 1, Block II, Ogudu Phase II Government Residential Scheme in Kosofe Local Government Area of the state.
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The state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice who is also Chairman of the Special Task Force on Land Grabbers, Mr. Moyo Onigbanjo, SAN, who confirmed the arrest to newsmen, Thursday, said, 18 men and one woman were arrested in a sting operation by officials of the LSSTFLG led by the Coordinator, Mr. Owolabi Arole and police officers attached to the State Taskforce on Environment and Special Offences Enforcement Unit.
Onigbanjo disclosed that the suspects have been handed over to State Police Command for prosecution at the Special Offences Court of Lagos State on a three-count charge.
He said, “This arrest is the culmination of the investigation carried out by the Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers after a petition was submitted by Attorneys on behalf of Mr. Ade Bamtefa; the petitioner and claimant of the land. On receiving the petition, officials of the State Special Taskforce swung into action.
“Both parties were invited for a meeting to establish the veracity or otherwise of the petition. It was, however, discovered from our findings that the arrested persons resorted to self-help by, not only trespassing on the land which had been cordoned off with a ‘KEEP-OFF’ inscription pending the conclusion of an investigation but had also started erecting structures on the land. This is unacceptable and contrary to some sections the Property Protection Law, 2016”, Onigbanjo added.
“Government Residential Schemes are planned schemes documented under the law which ordinarily shouldn’t be subject to cases of land grabbing and illegal occupation. This current trend of having land grabbers encroaching on land under government schemes is unacceptable and will be treated seriously like other cases of land grabbing”, he maintained.
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He, therefore, advised legitimate land and property owners in the State to perfect the title as well as other legal documents pertaining to their property, saying this will help dissuade land grabbers from their illicit trade and ensure easy administration of justice in the event that such property were encroached on.
The Attorney-General also implored members of the public to forward their complaints on land grabbing issues to the Taskforce by addressing a petition to his office or through the following numbers – 09096667123, 09020085005.