Lagos and the nuisance of land grabbers
Sir: Buying a piece of land in Lagos State and putting up a structure on same is usually a tall order, no thanks to the belligerent activities of land grabbers and land speculators popularly known as Omo Oniles who make life unbearable for intending house owners through their voracious frivolous demands. There have been many instances where unsuspecting buyers paid for land only to be told to come and pay again to reclaim their land, or settle some aggrieved family members who were not factored into the sharing formula of the previous payment. Omo Oniles simply have no regard for the law of the land as they have become a law unto themselves charging and fining prospective land owners’ different absurd bills as it pleases them.
They also ensure the buyers are not free from their strangulating grip as they exact different fines on them, at every stage of the development of their property. Prominent among such fines are foundation bill, lintel bill, decking bill, roof bill, fencing bill and a whole lot more. The value of such bills could sometimes be equivalent to the total value of the land or a little less depending on their scale of relevance and location of the property.
In addition, they employ the use of force and threat in collecting these monies from their victims who are at their mercy with no option or defence. Some of their victims have had their structures demolished, as the Omo Oniles storm their sites in commando-like style, wielding harmful weapons and attacking the workers on site.
Although some of the notorious Omo Oniles are known but the society is helpless in dealing with them. To stem the tide of their nuisance, there is a need for accurate and efficient record keeping where the history of every property is preserved and conscientiously kept and protected. The courts are congested with land cases because landed properties are not properly documented.
It is heartwarming that the state government is coming up with the legal and institutional framework to tackle the menace of Omo Oniles once and for all. A society that thrives on lawlessness cannot attract meaningful development and growth. The citizenry, especially masses who daily struggle to make ends meet would, without a doubt, benefit from this renewed attempt to sanitise the land sector in Lagos State.
Meanwhile, it is crucial that the state government demonstrates sufficient political will to follow through this fresh process in order to repose the citizenry’s confidence in the rule of law.
On its part, the citizenry must brace up to fully support the government in this new bid to restore law and order into the society.
Temilade Aruya, Lagos