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Land Law Prohibiting Forceful Entry And Illegal occupation of Landed Properties - Take a queue from Lagos State

Prohibition of demand for fee in regard to construction by Land Touts and (omo oniles) in Lagos State signed into Law - also known as the Lagos State Properties Protection Law.



Section 11 of the Law is by far the most popular provision of the Law. Anybody who has done construction work in Lagos and its environs has one tale or the other to tell about the notorious omo onile. They are basically hoodlums who lurk around construction areas, charge developers for every tipper of sand/cement/gravel brought to site; then, at various stages of building, they throw in more obstacles and demand payment of huge sums before they allow developers lay the foundation, deck, roof, erect a perimeter fence, dig a borehole and just about anything! In short, they fleece developers at every stage of construction and beat up their workers or prevent them from working if they are not paid and there was little or nothing one could do to stop them. The menace of the omo onile, whose numbers have swelled in recent years amid rising unemployment in Nigeria, has discouraged investors, hindered businesses and held back development in Lagos State.

This trend is what section 11 seeks to address. The section precludes a person, whether for himself or acting as an agent, from demanding for any fee or levy in respect of construction activities on any property, disrupt or obstruct construction works. Consequently, it shall not be business as usual for the omo onile henceforth as any person who contravenes the provision of the section commits an offence and shall on conviction be liable to a fine not exceeding one million naira or two years imprisonment or both.

However, the preclusion from demanding for any fee or levy in respect of construction shall not be interpreted to preclude land owning families under the authorization of the family head to demand for customary fee for possession (in the name of foundation levy) from buyers or ratification fee pursuant to the judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction.

Section 15, which is the last section of the Law, provides that the Law may be cited as the Lagos State Properties Protection Law.

CONCLUSION
From the provisions of the Law as highlighted above, it could be seen that this Law is the much-awaited answer to a lot of the problems associated with land or property acquisition and development in Lagos state and as evinced in the title of the Law, it is for properties protection in Lagos State. It is to ensure that properties and their owners are protected.

Much as this Law seems to be the perfect and absolute solution to the problem of land grabbing in Lagos, its overall effectiveness will depend on the implementation of the provisions of this Law. Consequently, to give effect to this law, all authorities must implement the law to the hilt.

There is no gainsaying the fact that we the citizens also have a vital role to play in making the law an effective one. For instance, citizens would need to report omo onile infractions to relevant agencies.

Finally, it is expected that with Lagos State taking this bold step in relation to land grabbing and other ancillary negative activities, other states will follow suit.