A bill which criminalises the activities of land touts and grabbers popularly known as Omo Onile or Ajagungbale was recently passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly. Those behind the bill are the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Sanai Agunbiade and the Speaker, Hon. Mudashiru Obasa.
The need for this very welcome development became pressing following the activities of these criminals who have been making life extremely difficult for landowners and property developers in Lagos State.
The Omo Onile gang became notorious over the years through such criminal actions as forceful entry and illegal occupation of landed properties, violent and fraudulent extortion of property developers, selling a piece of land to two or more, different, individuals leading to clashes and litigations among the buyers, amidst other acts of land touting.
They also go ahead to sell people’s properties without the real owners knowing. The most annoying aspect of this wickedness is the fact that they have always acted with over-bloated confidence and arrogance, giving the impression that they are above the law.
The constant fight over land ownership as well as warning notices such as: ‘This Land (or House) Is Not For Sale, Buyers Beware’ that have become common sights in most parts of the state, is a proof of the reality of the menace of Omo Onile.
Considering these atrocious activities of the land touts, it is therefore believed that the bill passed by Lagos State House of Assembly is a long over-due response to curtail the excesses of these notorious Omo Onile gangs and also restore sanity to the property and housing sector of the state.
Among the outstanding features of the bill are the prohibition of forceful land take over, entry by force, illegal occupation of property, use of land agents, illegal use of law enforcement agents, encroaching with weapons, sales of property without authority and professional misconducts by licensed property practitioners. Those found culpable risk between five and twenty one year jail terms.
We hope Governor Akinwunmi Ambode will sign the bill into law immediately and follow up with faithful implementation.