The Lagos State Government has inaugurated a five-man Special Task Force to checkmate the illegal activities of land grabbers, popularly known as ‘Omo- Onile’ in the state.
The State’s Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Adeniji Kazeem stated that government would henceforth fully enforce provisions of the State’s Criminal law. Its sections 52 and 53 prescribed a jail term of two years for any person who forcibly enters or takes possession of land in a manner likely to cause a breach of peace.
Kazeem said the move was necessary to nip in the bud, acts of dispossessing legitimate land-owners of their properties and stifling commercial activities as well as protect investors and maintain law and order.
He said the terms of reference of the special taskforce was to reduce to barest minimum the activities of persons or corporate entities who used 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 organisation as well as co-ordinate the efforts of the various agencies of government charged with enforcing the state government rights over land in the state.
Kazeem added that the task force would work with all security agencies to ensure enforcement of state government and private property rights in Lagos State.
“In recent years, land grabbers have caused havoc and unrest in different parts of the state by dispossessing legitimate land-owners of their properties, 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.
“That is the reason behind the set-up of this taskforce. Furthermore, the need to protect investors and maintain law and order also led to setting up of the committee. This, by implication will encourage the verification of legal claims through litigation rather than resorting to violence,” he said.
According to Kazeem, “land is a very important asset in this state and the security of title is also very important and therefore, anybody who uses threat of arms or physical threat to dispossess people of their legitimate property will be treated as criminals. This is in accordance with Section 52, 53 and 281 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.”
The Attorney General stated that the State House of Assembly was currently in the process of passing a law that exclusively deals with the activities of land grabbers and prescribed appropriate stiff punishment for offenders.
He said the current administration was determined to eradicate the menace of land grabbers with the full deployment of the resources of government towards the achievement of this goal.
Chairman of the special task force is Mr. Akinjide Bakare.