Lagos sets up task force to curb land grabbers

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Lagos state government Monday inaugurated a five-man Special Task Force to curb the criminal activities of land grabbers, also known as omo-onile, in the state. Inaugurating the special task force at the Alausa Secretariat, the state‎ Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem warned that henceforth, will bring the full wrath of the law on anybody caught for forcibly taking another person’s land.

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The terms of reference of the committee, he said 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 state government or private transactions; to coordinate 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”.

Kazeem explained that the state government decided to set up the task force in realisation that in recent years, the land grabbers’ ‎have caused havoc and unrest in different parts of the state by dispossessing legitimate land owners of their properties and 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”, he said. He stated further that the task force was also set up because of the need to protect investors and maintain law and order adding, “This by implication will encourage the verification of legal claims‎ through litigation rather than resorting to violence”.

‎The attorney general emphasised that land is a very important asset in the state and 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” he said, adding “it is noteworthy that section 281 of our criminal law includes land as things capable of being stolen. Sections 52 and 53 prescribed jail term of two years for any person who forcibly enters or takes possession of a land in a manner likely to cause breach of peace against a person entitled by law to the possession of the land”.

He also disclosed that the state assembly is currently in the process of passing a law that exclusively deals with the activities of the land grabbers and prescribe appropriate stiff penalty for offenders.

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The Task Force include‎ a Deputy Director in the Ministry of Justice, Mr. Akinjide Bakare who will serve as alternate Chairman in the absence of the attorney general; representative of the Commissioner for the environment, Dr. Afolabi Abiodun; representatives of the Lands Bureau Messrs Olayinka Adebayo and Faiq Abou.

Others are Chief Security Officer to the governor, Mr. Saheed Kassim; Commander Governor’s Monitoring team, Mr. Ganiyu Adebowale; a representative of the Commissioner for Physical Planning while a staff of the ministry, Ms Mosunmola Balogun was appointed secretary.

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