Lagos warns against use of land grabbers, violence in property dispute
Lagos State Government has warned residents with land disputes against resorting to self-help, employing land grabbers to perpetrate violence.
Commissioner for justice/attorney-general Moyosore Onigbanjo gave the warning at a stakeholder meeting in Ikorodu themed “Land Grabbers, the Law, and Your rights”.
“All we are saying is that no one should resort to self-help,” Onigbanjo said. “There are laws in place, and violence will never be condoned because of disputes in land matters.”
“The court of law is there. Let them go there. Killing and maiming people all in the name of land matters will not be tolerated.”
Onigbanjo, represented by Saheed Quadri, the directory for advisory services in the ministry, noted that the government enacted the Lagos State land-grabbing law to prohibit forceful entry and illegal occupation of landed properties, as well as violent and fraudulent conducts in relation to landed properties.
He accused some traditional leaders and community members of working as accomplices for land grabbers.
Coordinator of the Lagos State Special Taskforce on Land Grabbers, Owolabi Arole, said the use of land grabbers, perpetuating violence and killings over properties are contributory to stifled development in the Ikorodu division.
Arole disclosed that the taskforce has received over 3000 petitions since its establishment in 2016. He said a majority of the disputes are from Ikorodu.
But a Muslim cleric, Yaya Osola, accused lawyers, police, and traditional leaders of complicity in violence emanating from land grabbing incidences.
Oshoala said that land grabbers in Ikorodu should not be solely blamed for illegal land acquisition.
“There is injustice on the part of family elders and the baales (traditional chiefs) due to their greed and selfish interests,” Oshoala said.
“We rely on the police but they have let us down, these land grabbers bribe them with land and money to subvert justice.”
Lagos State commissioner of police Hakeem Odumosu, represented by an assistant commissioner of police in charge of operations, Oladotun Odugbona, said that land grabbing could not be done without the support of conspirators within.
He exonerated the police from the allegation of conspiring with land grabbers, saying the police job is to arrest, investigate and prosecute.
“Anything done outside that is beyond the scope of police work,” he said.
However, the representative of the Ikorodu branch of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) Shakiru Omolaja reiterated that section 11 of the Lagos State Property Protection Law, 2016, prescribes 10 years’ imprisonment for anyone convicted of land grabbing and advised disagreeing parties to seek legal redress.