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Properties: Lagos Assembly to hold public hearing on land grabbing ─Official

Photo: Lagos State MoJ

*The Lagos State House of Assembly also writes to Olubadan-in-Council over the recent demise of the monarch, and holds a minute silence for the Nigerian soldiers killed in an ambush, in Okuama community, Delta State of Nigeria

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

The menace of land grabbing is receiving a priority attention as the burning issue became a major topic for debate Tuesday, March 19, 2024, on the floor of the Lagos State House of Assembly (LSHA), in Alausa-Ikeja, when the state lawmakers agreed to a public hearing be organised as part of urgent solutions.

The planned stakeholders’ meeting would be all-encompassing involving the Lagos State Government (LASG), the Nigeria Police, the Judiciary, traditional rulers, and others.

Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Mudashiru Obasa, Speaker of Lagos State House of Assembly

Eromosele Ebhomele, Chief Press Secretary (CPS) to Speaker of the LSHA, in a statement issued Tuesday, in Lagos, noted Rt. Hon. (Dr.) Mudashiru Obasa, Speaker of the House, said land grabbing had become “a serious issue that is beyond disturbing.”

The Speaker stated: “It is chaotic. Many people have been killed, some maimed, and some locked up without trial just because of the existence of some people who have turned themselves into land grabbers.”

The statement disclosed Dr. Obasa also frowned on cases in whcih land speculators write petitions, and with the connivance of security officials, the real owners of the properties are arrested, taken to Abuja, and forced to sign undertakings that would bar them from the same land they bought from their toiling.

The CPS noted the Speaker, who said these land grabbers often attack new and developing areas in Ikorodu, Epe, Ojo, and others, averred: “I wonder how somebody would just invade people’s properties and still exude such boldness and confidence, kill the owner or bring Police.”

Recalling his own personal experience sometime ago, Obasa further asked: “What do you think of the fate of a resident who struggles to own a property, struggles to start building on it only for somebody to just suddenly take over the land, making life difficult for him?”

It is equally said the LSHA Speaker raised concerns over delays and multiple judgements from courts, while urging the state government to consider commensurate compensations for land owners whose properties are taken over in overriding public interest.

“Land is a source of wealth for its owners, and when government acquires it, there must be a process in place for adequate compensation. If not, how do you expect such people to get out of poverty?” He asked.

Moving the motion under ‘Matter of Urgent Public Importance’ earlier, Hon. Kazeem Olayinka (Mushin Constituency 2), implored the House to organise a meeting with the stakeholders to address the problem.

In his contribution to the debate in the House, Hon. Gbolahan Yishawu (Eti-Osa 2) stressed the importance of focusing on the enforcement of the law against land grabbing.

Yishawu urged the establishment of a dedicated agency to effectively handle cases.

Other lawmakers, who contributed to the debate, also harped on the need for stronger enforcement of the extant laws relating to land grabbing in the state.

Meanwhile, the Lagos State House of Assembly has commiserated with the Olubadan-in-Council over the demise of Oba Lekan Balogun, the 42nd Olubadan of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital. The House also condoled the Nigerian Army (NA) over the recent killing of 17 of its personnel in an ambush after a peace mission in Okuama community, Ughelli South Local Government Area of Delta State, South-South Nigeria.

The lawmakers held a minute silence in honour of the departed while the Speaker also directed Barr. Olalekan Onafeko, Clerk of the House, to send condolence letters to both the Olubadan-in-Council and the Nigerian Army respectively.

On Lagos State Special Task Force on land grabbers

ConsumerConnect reports the Lagos State Government in the past had made effort at addressing the menace of land grabbing in the cosmopolitan state.

According to Lagos State Ministry of Justice (MoJ), the terms of reference of the Task Force, established in 2016, which will operate under the supervision of the Attorney General 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;

“To co-ordinate 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.”

The government in the immediate past administration also noted that petitions had been received from several citizens including retired civil servants, who had served the State meritoriously.

The Lagos Government as well lamented that “it was pathetic that some people could forcibly dispossess people of their legitimate property, the more reason, according to him, why the Task Force would vigorously pursue the cause.”

Core value and functions of Lagos State Task Force on land grabbers

The state government, among others, identified the following as the core value of the Task Force: “To protect the right to possession and occupation of any property in Lagos State and guide against the use of force or self-help by encroaches in taking over any landed property by criminalising any act inconsistent with the proprietary rights of owners.”

In terms of overall responsibilities of the Task Force, the Lagos State Government said these include the receipt of petitions from aggrieved members of the public, handling of Petitions by acknowledgement and by inviting parties for meetings; and holding of fact finding meetings with the both parties and imploring the option of alternative dispute resolution.

Others are on collaboration with relevant Government MDAs for effective and proper implementation of the mandate, and on-site inspections and operations of lands including government schemes, according to the Ministry of Justice.

Additional reporting by Gbenga Kayode.

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