BY Moshood Adebayo
Hard times await land grabbers, popularly called Omo Onile in Lagos State as Governor Akinwunmi Ambode yesterday inaugurated a Special Task Force to deal with issues of land grabbing, otherwise known as “Omo Onile in the state.
Ambode, while inaugurating the “Special Task Force on Land Grabbing” lamented that land grabbers have caused havoc and unrest in different parts of the state.
This he said had stifled commercial activities through disposession of legitimate land owners of their property.
He charged the committee to work with other securities agencies to ensure strict enforcement of government and private, property rights in the state.
Represented by the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice. Adeniji Kazeem, the governor charged them to reduce to a barest minimum, the activities of the landgrabbers.
He said henceforth, anybody who uses threat of arms or physical threat to dispossess people of their legitimate property will be treated as criminals in accordance with Sections 52, 53 and 281 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State.
He cited Section 281 of the criminal law which he said included land as things capable of being stolen, as well as Sections 52 and 53 of the law “prescribe 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 the peace against a person entitled by law to the possession of the land”
His words: “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 indentifies the effects of the problems being perpetrated by these unscrupulous elements on commercial activities and peace of the citizenry but also finds lasting solutions to the menace. That is the reasoning behind the set-up of this Task Force.
“Furthermore, the need to protect investors and maintain law and order also led to the setting up of the Committee. This, by implication, will encourage the verification of legal claims through litigation rather than resorting to violence,” the Attorney General explained.
He also disclosed that the State House of Assembly was in the process of passing a law that would exclusively deal with the activities of land grabbers by prescribing appropriate stiff punishment for offenders.