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Land Speculators (omo Nile) In Lagos Risk 3 Years Jail by Controversy: 7:50am On Jul 05, 2013
EROMOSELE EBHOMELE

If the bill being considered by the Lagos State House of Assembly, southwest Nigeria scales through, then the activities of land speculators and grabbers, locally called omo-onile in the state, would be banned with a three-year jail term or a fine of N300, 000 slammed on anybody who parades himself as one.

The Lagos State Properties Protection Bill 2013, which contains the punishment, also states that it would be a crime for anyone to trespass or forcefully occupy any landed property that does not belong to him.

The bill seeking to regulate the forceful takeover of landed properties, a major problem to land ownership in the state, scaled the second reading on the floor of the House on Thursday.

The private-member bill also stipulates that anyone found with fire arms, weapons or chemical material with the intent to forcefully takeover any land would face death sentence.

To make the law effective when passed, a special offence court would be established to try any person found guilty, while any one who contravenes.

Speaking on the advantages of the bill, Chairman Committee on Lands and Housing, Bayo Osinowo, said if the bill is eventually passed, it would address so many atrocities committed by land grabbers in the State.

According to Osinowo, 60 percent of Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) in the State are fake just as he said that the bill will also correct such anomalies when passed.

“In Lagos State, land is our major resource. It is our petrol compared to the oil producing states in the country; therefore nothing done will be too much to protect its sanctity,” he said.

Members unanimously supported the bill saying it would assist the State’s desire for peace and unity.

Speaking in favour of the bill also, Osinowo’s colleague, Sanai Agunbiade, explained that the bill would take care of land agents who parade themselves and seize the position to take landed properties forcefully.

He said: “the bill would prevent the so-called ‘omo-onile’ from potential buyers before or during construction work.”

He further explained that the bill would prevent anyone, who without lawful authority, uses or threatens violence for the purpose of securing entry into any landed property for himself or for any other person.

The bill has been committed to the Committees on Lands and Housing as well as Judiciary, Human Rights and Public Petitions to look into it and report back in a month.

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