Lagos State government has expressed its resolve to fully enforce the Properties Protection Law recently signed by the state governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, threatening that it would not hesitate to use the instrumentality of the law to decisively deal with anyone, including traditional rulers, who forcefully dispossessed people of their legitimate rights to land.
The state government, while saying that it was not oblivious of the fact that some of the land grabbers were being sponsored by highly placed members of the society including traditional rulers, also warned that it would not allow anyone to forcefully collect money for foundation, roofing and fencing, among others.
The Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, gave the warning on Monday in a statement, saying the state government would enforce the law against anyone found wanting no matter how highly placed in the society.
According to Kazeem, the state government will ensure that whoever encourages or connives with Omo-Oniles or Ajagungbales “to perpetrate their illegal activities would be made to face the full wrath of the law.”
Adeniji said for the avoidance of doubt, ‘The Properties Protection Law seeks to reduce to the barest minimum the activities of persons or corporate entities who use force and intimidation to dispossess or prevent any person or entity from acquiring legitimate interest and possession of property acquired through State Government or Private transactions.
“The law will also ensure the Special Task Force on Land Grabbers set up by the Governor under my office to work with all security agencies to ensure enforcement of State Government and Private property rights in the State and ensure proper coordination of the efforts of the various agencies of government charged with enforcing the State Government’s rights over land in Lagos,’ the statement read.
While making specific reference to some provisions of the Law, Adeniji explained that, “Section 2(1) states that as from the commencement of the Law, no one shall use force or self-help to take over any landed property or engage in any act inconsistent with the proprietary right of the owner in the State.
“Furthermore, subsection 2(two) states that persons who have used force to take over the properties of others and still do so after 3 months from the date of commencement of the law commit an offence. Anyone who commits such offence is liable to ten (10) years imprisonment.
“Also, anyone without lawful authority who applies threats or violence to secure entry into any landed property for personal use commits an offence. Regardless of if the entry is lawful, it does not give a right to use threats or violence and anyone who commits the offence shall be liable to 10 (ten) years imprisonment.
“Furthermore, by virtue of Section 3(4), anyone who uses fire arms or offensive weapons or is in any way armed or wounds anyone while committing the act of forced entry is liable to 4(four) years imprisonment,” he said.