LAGOS STATE PROPERTIES PROTECTION LAW 2016 – A DETAILED REVIEW
LAGOS STATE PROPERTIES PROTECTION LAW 2016 – A DETAILED REVIEW
If you live in Lagos, you’ve probably heard about land grabbers called “omo-onile.” They have a dirty habit of selling the same piece of land to several different people, which makes the public laugh at them. So, they get rid of the legal owners of the land or keep charging the legal owners who have already started building on their land for things like roofing, decking, flooring, and so on.
Investors in Nigeria, especially in Lagos state, have put less money into real estate because of what they do. Their main concern is to stop these people from taking land without being stopped.
LAND AND PROPERTY ACQUISITION: A POSSIBLE SOLUTION
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode signed the “Lagos State Properties Protection Law” into law on August 15, 2016, in an effort to stop the problem of omo-onile, which has messed up the process of buying and owning land. This law is meant to stop violent and dishonest behaviour related to land properties in Lagos state, as well as forceful entry and illegal occupation of landed properties.
The main goal of the law is to give investors legal comfort and assurance that they can buy and sell legal land and property without having to worry about being harassed, intimidated, or taken advantage of by these land grabbers.
THE PROPERTY PROTECTION LAW
The law has 15 parts that protect the rights of land owners and make it illegal to forcefully enter and stay on someone else’s property without permission. According to the law, land grabbers and illegal occupants could face between five (5) and twenty-one (21) years in prison if they are found guilty. However, depending on the court’s decision, they could also be fined for their crimes.
Some of the most important parts of the law have been talked about below:
- Section 2 of the law says that any person or group of people who use or have used force to take over landed property or do anything that goes against the property rights of the land owner in the State from the start of the law or after three months from the start of the law shall be guilty of an offence punishable by ten (10) years in prison if found guilty by the court.
- Section 3 of the law says that anyone who uses or threatens violence without a legal right to do so in order to get into a landed property for himself or someone else acting on his behalf is guilty of a crime punishable by ten (10) years in prison. And if any of these people force their way in with firearms, effective weapons, or any noxious or chemical materials, or if they are with someone else who is armed, or if they hurt or hurt someone else, they will be guilty of a crime punishable by four years in prison.
- Section 4 of the Law says that an encroacher who stays on a property after being asked to leave by the owner or a representative of the owner is breaking the law and can be fined up to five million naira or put in jail for five years, or both, if found guilty.
- Section 6 of the Law says that no police officer, vigilante group, or ethnic, cultural, or traditional militia has the right to carry out a court’s decision about a piece of land, unless the Sherriff and Civil Process Act or another Law says otherwise.
- Section 8 of the Law says that people can’t send false or pointless petitions to the Law Enforcement Agency based on the Law, if they know that the claims in the petition are false. Because of this, the law says that a petition for landed property must be accompanied by a sworn statement from the petitioner. This is because so many people make up different kinds of “title” to the land that the purchaser must be careful and pray a lot to make sure the land doesn’t end up in the wrong hands. This happens a lot when family agents sell family property without the head of the family’s permission. Some of them even give out fake receipts. So, anyone who tries to sell property without having a legal right to it or permission from the owner to do so is breaking the law and could get a fine of 500 000 naira or six months in jail, or both, if they are found guilty. If he actually sells a property to which he has no legal title and which he or his privies have already sold without the owner’s legal permission, he is guilty of a crime and could get a fine of up to 100% of the property’s value or five years in jail, or both. The property would then go back to the legal owner.
- Section 9 of the Law says that a professional can’t help a land-owning family and another person make a contract if the professional knows that the contract will break this Law or another Law. If the professional does this, they commit the crime of aiding and abetting the commission of an offense. Also, the law says that any professional who carries out a court order without following the rules set out in the Sheriff and Civil Process Act or any other law is breaking the law. If a professional is found guilty of breaking the law, they will be reported to the appropriate professional body for misconduct and any other actions that need to be taken.
- By far, Section 11 of the Law is the most-read part of the Law. Anyone who has worked on a building project in Lagos or the area around it has a story about the infamous “omo-onile”. They are basically thieves who hang out near construction sites and charge developers for every tipper of sand, cement, or gravel brought to the site. At different stages of building, they put up more obstacles and demand huge payments before they will let developers lay the foundation, deck, roof, build a perimeter fence, dig a borehole, or do just about anything else. In short, they rip off developers at every stage of construction and beat up their workers or keep them from working if they are not paid, and there was little or nothing that could be done to stop them. In recent years, the number of “Omo Onile” has grown because unemployment in Nigeria has gotten worse. This has scared away investors, hurt businesses, and slowed progress in Lagos state. This is what section 11 tries to do something about. The section says that a person, whether acting on their own behalf or as an agent, can’t charge a fee or levy for construction work on any property or stop or slow down construction work. So, it won’t be business as usual for the “omo onile” anymore, because anyone who breaks the rules of the section commits a crime and can get a fine of up to one million naira or two years in prison, or both, if they are caught.
- Section 12 of the Law sets up a task force to enforce the Law and gives it the power to make arrests in accordance with the Law, just like any other Law Enforcement Unit/Agency in the State. However, the Special Offences Court and other courts have the power to handle crimes against the Law.
From what was said above about the Law’s provisions, it’s clear that this Law is the long-awaited answer to many of the problems that come with buying land or property and developing it in Lagos state. It protects both the properties and their owners.