LASG Charges Two for Abusing Land Use Charge Field Officials

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• Considers criminalising power theft, vandalism
Gboyega Akinsanmi
The Lagos State Government on Tuesday disclosed that it had already charged two persons, who abused and assaulted field officials enforcing Land Use Charge Law, 2001 in Ayobo-Ipaja Local Council Development Area (LCDA) recently.
Disturbed by the rising trend of assault on its officials, the state government warned all its residents “to desist from assaulting law enforcement officials on duties in the state or face the wrath of the law.”

The Commissioner for Finance, Mr. Akinyemi Ashade, gave the warning in Alausa on Tuesday after a field official in the Land Use Charge Office was attacked and abused at No 9, Mologede Street Meiran, Ayobo-Ipaja LCDA.

After the incident, the commissioner lamented the growing rate of assault of the state’s law enforcement officials across the state, noting that the state government would no longer condone such cases of human rights abuse.
He explained that the residents – Ernest Usuaulele and his sister, Jessica Usuaulele – beat up one of the state’s land use charge field officer and destroyed his camera while taking the photograph of a bill posted on the property as part of the evidence of notice served on the property as demanded by law.

He said the two suspects had already arrested and subsequently charged to the court of competent jurisdiction, insisting that any resident, who abuses and assaults its law enforcement officials would face law.
He added that machinery had been put in place “to ensure the protection and safety of all law enforcement officials across the state at all times. The two culprits have since been arrested and charged to court.

“The state government will not hesitate to deal decisively with anybody obstructing its officials from performing their lawful duty within the ambit of law. We urge all our field officers not to be demoralised by the assault, but continue to put in their best while performing their duties,” Ashade said.

In a news conference, yesterday, the Commissioner for Energy and Mineral Resources, Mr. Olawale Oluwo, said the state government would enact a law to criminalise and punish persons who engage in power theft.
Oluwo acknowledged that the state government was worried that its efforts to ensure streets of Lagos are well lit was being threatened by vandals, though hoped the new law would tackle the menace headlong.
He said the state government had noticed a trend where some electricity infrastructures “are damaged by hit and run motorists. Such is detrimental to our quest to ensure that every nook and cranny of the state is lit.

However, the commissioner said the state government was coming up with a law under its Embedded Power Initiative “to protect public lighting infrastructure from such destruction and vandalism.
“We have noticed this vandalism in three ways. The first one is that by weekends, between Friday and Sunday, we see a lot of vehicles knock down our electricity poles and we suffer the consequences.

“We will make sure that each time we apprehend them, we make them to pay fines because we cannot prosecute them under a law that does not exist. The embedded power initiative will come with its own power theft law.
“We will try to embed this street lighting protection under it. So, until the law comes into force, we cannot prosecute them, we can only continue to fine them to pay for the street light poles they knock down,”
The commissioner also restated the commitment of the state government “to meet its electricity needs and ensure regular power supply not only for industrial clusters, but also to residents of the state.”

Beyond combined 47.5 megawatts it is currently generating to power its own public facilities, Oluwo said the state government would stimulate investment through the initiative to generate 3,000 megawatts through accelerated deployment of embedded power plants in strategic locations between three and five years to drive the economy and bring electricity to millions of homes and businesses.