……Seek Stiffer Punishment For Offenders, Full Implementation Of Land Use Act
Some Land stakeholders in Lagos state have called for stiffer punishment for land grabbing, saying that the option of paying fine by offenders in the Land Use Act should be deleted to discourage the nefarious acts.
They also called for the full implementation of the Land Use Act of 1978 so as to put an end to land encroachment by land grabbers in Lagos , saying that the law did not permit people to use the land of other people.
These stakeholders further indicted state government officials, lawyers, surveyors and the Nigerian police as they claimed that these officials aid and support land grabbers in carrying out their nefarious acts in the state.
The stakeholders said these at a day public hearing on Land grabbing matters held at the Lagos State House Of Assembly Pavilion on Wednesday tagged; “Ways to Check The Resurgent Activities on Land Grabbers in the state.”
The public hearing had in attendance, traditional rulers, land owners, land developers, real estate operators and state government officials like Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Moyo Onigbanjo SAN, Permanent Secretary of Lands Bureau, Mr Bode Agoro and Solicitor General, Mrs Titilayo Shitta-Bay, representative of Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), while the representative of the Nigerian Police Force was missing.
Mr. Peter Oluwafemi Ajayi, another stakeholder said that the laws of the state were not properly enforced and that law enforcement agents should be up and doing, while stressing that if government officials were not obeying the law then there is problem.
State Secretary of Association of Senior Civil Servants of Lagos State, Comrade Akeem Kazeem said that land grabbers had taken over the workers village created for workers in Ayobo, Ipaja area of the state.
Mr. Adegoke Oyetunde, a lecturer said that some traditional rulers invite land grabbers into the community as their protectors and that they would later misbehave.
“There must be punitive measure to every law, but effectiveness is very important. How we effect the punitive measure is very important,” he said.
On his part, an estate developer, Mr. Adebare Murphy (Topaz) said that there is no land grabber without the support of the government.
Murphy emphasised that the government should look into land use act, and that the act did not allow the government to seize people’s land.
‘They work with Land Bureau and NTDA. People would just come to claim 500 or 2000 hectares of land.
“Land Use Act of May 29, 1978 says it is for public use it is not for the government to sell land to other people.
“They did it for us in Ajah and they have taken the land of the people all over the state and drive the people away.
“The lawmakers should look at the source of the land grabbers. They sell the land to other people without using them for the purposes they are meant for,” he said.
Mrs. Omolara Thomas Aigbe from Gbode Gbaga Kekere off Ijede Road, Ikorodu said that land grabbers took over her two plots of land that is worth about N5 Million, and that traditional rulers should rise to the occasion and save people from suffering.
In his comment, Chief Victor Oludare Akinsanya Baale of Salabo, Imota said that they had issues in Salabo in Imota and that they were being troubled by some hoodlums in the area.
Chief Sikiru Olorunnisola Cole, Baale of Iranla stated that not all Baales sell land, and that the office is a continuum.
“Some Baales that sold land would have died and they would indict the incumbent Baale. Some NTDA staffs are the cause of the problems.
“We were in a case for five years with the wife of Prince Bola Ajibola over some pieces of land. They are working on the land at the moment.
“Many people get lands from the government for agric purposes and they will start selling the land for building. I have left the town for fear of my lives on many occasions,” he said.
Chief Joseph Adekunle Keshinro, Baale Gedegede in Eti-Osa said that it all had to do with the government, who he said did not follow the provisions in the Land Use Decree.
Keshinro said that the government once took their land in a coastal area and that the government gave them a resettlement.
“They cut 750 hectares of land to 375 hectares of land. They started the land that they used as resettlement for the people in the coastal area.
“They stole our land and the law does not permit anyone to settle resettlement land. We have got across to the government, yet they have not done anything for us.
If you want to sell land, you should identify the owners of the land. Land grabbers and police work together so there is nothing they can do to help us.
“The only solution is to go back to Land Use Decree. The government has all the laws and the map of the state,” he said.
Alhaji Chief Okunmoyinbo Mustapha, Baale of Alasia Town, Eti Osa East said that the government knows most of the land grabbers, and also urged the government to go back to Land Use Act.
Mrs. Aminat Giwa also lamented that government officials keep some lands that they claim belong to the government and they would forcefully take over the land.
Giwa said that she got to her land in 2009 and they came to take it over in 2018.
There was the pathetic story of a blind man, Mr. Kehinde Agboola, who said that someone encroached into his land and built a big house on the land.
“He was a commissioner and he was a Director of Health Insurance under former president Goodluck Jonathan. In 2017, I wrote him through my lawyer that I am not fighting him and that I am a blind man.
“The letter was received by his neighbour then as he had EFCC problem at that time.
‘He panicked then because he thought this could expose him. The person that received the letter knows me and when he came to me, I told him to talk to him to give me money to help me get another land somewhere, but he has not done so,” he said.
Agboola said that he went to appeal to him, but that he did not bulge.
He added that the man tried to meet him, when he had EFCC case and that he promised to compensate him that he did not want to go to court because of his case in court.
“I want the people concerned to help and come to my case. Where I am staying now I am owing three years rent, my children are in the university.
“I have been begging to survive, I stay in Coker Aguda in Surulere area of Lagos. I need help to survive and I have all my documents with me. He went over the fence and gate to build on my land,” he said.
A journalist from a community newspaper in Ikorodu, Kunle Adelabu, said that Oriwu College compound was being encroached upon.
“Some guys recently came and pulled down the fence of the school and took over some parts of the land of the school.
“I am am alumnus of the school and the school is the best in Nigeria at the moment.
“The land was donated to the college by Ikorodu and Igbogbo. The government should beam their searchlights on some ministries including land and physical planning. Some of their officials collude with land grabbers on land in the state,” he said.
In his contributions, Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Lands, Mr. Bode Agoro, said that there should be stiffer punishment for land grabbing in the state, adding that option of paying fine by offenders should be deleted from the law because land grabbers have the belief that even if they are caught in the act they would be asked to pay fine and that is the end.
Representative of Oba of Lagos, Oba Rilwan Akiolu, Chief Sasore of Lagos noted that the Land Use Act promulgated by former president Olusegun Obasanjo as military head of state was not implemented as the law did not permit people to use the land of other people.
Sasore added that some Baales have not done well as they sell land to multiple people and that they now leave this for might is right.
‘The government should do proper layout and provide infrastructure for the people and do things to improve the economy of the state and provide job for the youth to reduce land grabbing.
Earlier in his welcome address, Chairman of the House Adhoc Committee on Land Grabbing issue, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade said that everybody knows how important land is today, which is why the House called the special public hearing.
“That is why we called you to brainstorm on the matter so that we could come up with a viable law on it. It is not a usual public hearing. It is on how to curtail the dangerous activities of land grabbers in the state.
“We once passed a private member law, which is Property Protection Law. We also have Lagos State Special Task Force on Land Grabbers.
“The people of the state experienced a respite after these before land grabbers took over again,” he said.
Agunbiade stated that what was worrisome was that land grabbing is resurfacing with impunity in the state disturbing real estate business.
“Many innocent people have been dispossessed of their property in the state. While one petition is being treated 10 other petitions on land grabbing are being sent to the Assembly.
” Land is to Lagos State what crude oil is to Nigeria. Whatever threatens land in Lagos State threatens Lagos State and its citizens,” he said.
” There are very many petitions on land matters in the house of Assembly, while one is been treated about 10 others are coming in almost every other day alleging sundary things, particularly ineffectiveness on the part of the task force and the committe on anti grabber’s activities.
“The committe itself has continue to lament its constrains foisted by lack of effective support from the Taskforce. If the committee on land grabbers activities is footdraging on petitions before it, how would landgrabbers and thier collaborators be arrested and if not arrested for contravening the law, how can they be persecuted. Of course when a law in not properly enforced, those that contravene the law will develop impunity and the society will suffer.
” it is for all of these reasons that the house of Assembly deem it imperative to call this public hearing so as to gather major stake holders as well as the general public to brainstorm and generate ideas on ways to check the resurgent activities of land grabbers in the state.
” The issue of land grabbers is of general concern and whatever affects all should be debated by all. That is the essence of today gathering”, said Agunbiade.
The Deputy Speaker of the House, Hon. Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, who represented the Speaker, Rt. ( Hon) Mudashiru Obasa said that it was alleged that some government officials also grab land by exaggerating on the plots of land acquired by the state government only to sell the excesses.
“All these should be addressed by the new law to be considered by the state Assembly. We want you to state all your experiences to reduce land grabbing in the state.
Land is very important to the economy of Lagos State. We value land more than oil in the state.
“For the people of the state to live in peace we have to discuss to know what to do about land in the state. We need to know what to do stop these excesses.
“This house has exclusive legislative framework by working on necessary laws to battle land grabbers in Lagos State.
“Legislative functions is the bedrock of a democratic government. Regardless or how good or encompassing a law may be, the pride of the law is the practicability of the law?.
“Laws should effectively address the need of the people. We sit here to address the practicability of the Lagos State Property Law of 2016. Sections 2 to 3 prohibits forceful and illegal entering of another man’s land. Section 4 criminalises illegal occupation of properties,” he said.
On behalf of the Rt. Hon speaker and the entire members of th Lagos state House of Assembly, I welcome you all to this public hearing put together to invite and obtain suggestions and ideas from the general public and critical stakeholders on how to curtail the dangerous activities of land grabbers in the state.