The Lagos State Government on Thursday, warned residents with land disputes against resorting to self-help, employing land grabbers to perpetrate violence.
The Commissioner for justice/Attorney-General, Moyosore Onigbanjo, SAN gave the warning at a stakeholders’ meeting in Ikorodu with the theme “Land Grabbers, the Law, and Your rights”.
“All we are saying is that no one should resort to self-help, there are laws in place, and violence will never be condoned in settling of disputes in land matters”Onigbanjo said.
“The Court of Law is easy access by any aggrieved resident. It is important all residents should learn to uphold the rule of law, rather than resorting to self which lead to Killing and maiming people all in the name of land disputes. This, will not be tolerated.”
Onigbanjo, represented by Saheed Quadri, the Director Advisory Services in the ministry, noted that the government enacted the Lagos State property protection 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 have contributed to the stifled property development in the Ikorodu division.
Arole disclosed that the taskforce has received over 5000 petitions since its establishment in 2016. He said majority of these disputes are from the Ikorodu area.
A Muslim cleric, the Grand Imam of Oriwu Central Mosque, Yaya Oshoala, also indicted 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, as some eggs in law enforcement agencies, also collaborate with other elements in the community to engage in illegal land grab.
“There is injustice on the part of some family elders and the baales (traditional chiefs) due to their greed and selfish interests,” Oshoala said.
“We rely on the police but they some times let us down, these land grabbers collude with them to subvert justice.”
Lagos State commissioner of police Hakeem Odumosu, represented by the Assistant Commissioner of Police in charge of operations, Oladotun Odubona, said that land grabbing could not be done without the support of conspirators within.
He exonerated the police from the allegations 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 aggrieved parties to seek legal redress.
Omolaja implored members of the community to respect the rule of law with regards to Land disputes instead of resulting to violence, saying ” Law is a respecter of no person”.