Lagos Assembly Set to Criminalise Forceful Possession of Land


By Femi Durojaiye

The Lagos State House of Assembly on Friday proposed a Bill for a law to prohibit forcible entry and occupation of landed properties in Lagos State.

Stakeholders, who gathered at the Lateef Jakande auditorium in the assembly premises agreed that the law was timely as it would put an end to the menace of land grabbers “ajagungbales,” who they said had been making lives difficult for the people.

The Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade, who represented the Speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa at the event, said that the law would cut the wings of land grabbers and legal practitioners, who collude with them to cheat the residents of the state.

Agunbiade stressed that land was to Lagos what oil was to the people of the Niger Delta.

“A lot of people have abused and destroyed the value system of the people of Lagos State. We cannot wait anymore. People, such as civil servants, would struggle to buy land, only for them to be unable to use the land.

“People are given allocation and they would not be allowed to use the land. Some uniform men and professionals even work with some land grabbers to implement illegal judgments,” he said.

The law provides that no person or group of persons shall use force or for the purpose of forceful takeover of the said land.

“No law enforcement agent, vigilante or ethnic, cultural/traditional militia shall execute the judgment of a court in respect of any landed property except as may be provided for under the Sheriff and Civil Process Law,” it said.

One of the stakeholders at the event, who is also the Ayangburen of Ikorodu, Oba Kabir Adewale Shotobi observed that the fines in the law was too meagre for the kind of business in the sector.

This was corroborated by some other stakeholders at the event.

Oba Shotobi also called for the amendment of some sections of the law, and later told journalists that land grabbers were usually invited by unscrupulous individuals and that some local chiefs collaborate with them.

The Permanent Secretary of Lands Bureau in the state, Mr. Bode Agoro advised that the Governor’s Monitoring Team should be added to Section 12 that was concerned with the issue of arrest.

The Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Nigerian Bar Association, Mr. Martins Ogunleye, in his submission, advised that the state should avoid making retroactive laws and that the Environmental Task Force might not have the capacity to investigate the offences properly.

“We should avoid loopholes in the law and a punishment must be prescribed under Section 8 of the law. Also, any erring lawyer should be reported to the NBA of Legal Practitioners Disciplinary Committee instead of Council of Legal Practitioner stated in the law,” he said.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Land, Hon. Bayo Oshinowo, in his remarks, promised that some of the observations of the stakeholders would be noted so that the law could achieve its aims and objectives.