IN what will appear as a test of the enforceability of the new law against Omo oniles in Lagos, property owners and residents in Gloryland Estate, in Egbe-Idimu Local Council Development Area, LCDA, of Alimosho, have sent a petition to the state governor, Akinwumi Ambode, urging him to save them from the nefarious activities of land-grabbers.
It will be recalled that Governor Ambode had on August 15 signed the State Property Protection and Neighbourhood Safety Corps bills into law. According to relevant state government officials, the law is aimed at eradicating the menace of land-grabbing as well as preventing kidnapping and other criminal activities in the state. Obviously encouraged by the provisions of the law which stipulates 21 years jail term for anyone convicted of land-grabbing, property owners at Glory Estate are accusing Omo oniles in the area of selling Right of Ways, RoWs, under high tension wires to tipper operators who have invariably degraded the road infrastructure as well as pose security threat in the area.
The accusation was contained in their petition written under the aegis of the Glory Land Community Development Association, CDA, and addressed to the state government through the Ministry of the Environment. Signed by the association’s Chairman, Mr. Olumide Adewale, the petition accused the Omo oniles of illegal sales of government properties as well as constituting environmental degradation to the area. One of the residents, Alhaji Lateef Olayinka, explained that the dual carriageway that leads to federal sites and services scheme which also houses a federal craft centre for the blind has been completely taken over by squatters and land grabbers. “Efforts by the community to fix the roads have been resisted by squatters and tipper drivers to whom the land grabbers had sold the road and setback. The roads have been completely taken over by illegal structures occupied by miscreants and people suspected to be Boko Haram squatters who snatch residents bags at night.
“The worst part is that the road is under the pipeline and power-line, but we now have permanent structures there, including residential houses and hotels. The kerbs used to demarcate the roads were excavated and carted away by the unscrupulous tipper drivers aided by Omo oniles. “They have even encroached into the estate, selling government setbacks and this was the subject of a recent appeal to the Ministry of the Environment by the estate association,” he fumed. Some of the structures, it was gathered, have been marked for removal because they were erected either along pipeline of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, or under electricity power lines. “We, therefore, appeal to Governor Ambode to save our souls and by so doing protect the Federal and state governments institutions and sites in the estate,” Olayinka said.
While signing the State Property Protection and Neighbourhood Safety Corps bills into law, Governor Ambode had lamented that the activities of land grabbers discourage investors and hinder the ease of doing business in Lagos. According to him: “A lot of our would-be property owners encounter untold harassment from exploitative land grabbers. This Law marks the end of the road for such land grabbers,” adding that the Properties Protection Law gives legal backing to law enforcement officers to arrest anyone who uses force to dispossess any person of his landed property. Ambode noted that the law empowers the Special Task Force on Land-Grabbers to work with all security agencies in ensuring enforcement of state government and private property rights in the state.
Meantime, Chairman of Ikeja Branch of the Nigerian Bar Association, NBA, Mr. Dele Oloke had alleged that the main sponsors of the land grabbers were monarchs and chiefs in the state, saying: “Sometimes when the security agencies arrest land grabbers, their sponsors who were respectable members of the society, often demand that the suspects be released.”
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