The challenges that come with buying and/or selling of landed property are now well known in our society. In fact, scarcely will a landed property transaction and/or construction thereupon go on without one dispute/violence or the other.
It has become so customary to find more than one person buying or purchasing a property from one or more conflicting sources.
It is not strange anymore to be sacked on a lawfully purchased property where your ejectors are armed and/or portend imminent violence. One may not live to tell the tale if one is adamant.
Perhaps, your experience is milder, if you have paid heavily to secure possession of a lawfully purchased property and still need to pay through your nose upon recurrent demands by the popular land owners (Omo Oniles) for other aspects of developing your property (i.e money for foundation, “German” flooring, fencing, decking, roofing, etc.). It is more than unbearable, you will hear many say.
The bane of this menace has been the subtle thriving and unconscious institutionalisation of the place/role of land grabbers in the scheme of things. If you ask me, I will say they are not to blame. It is commonly said that a society without laws cannot have and/or punish any offender.
In Lagos State, the tide has changed and many can nurse the hope of relief as a new law emerged to ensure the protection of lawful purchasers and/or occupants of landed property from land-related exploitations within the state.
The Lagos State Properties Protection Law (“The Law”) became operative on August 15, 2016.
The 15-section law covers a wide range of concerns that have been identified earlier above and decisively stipulates punitive sanctions for offenders.
Section 2 of the law criminalises the use of self-help by any person or group of persons in taking over any landed property in Lagos State. In fact, the said section covers cases where such forceful takeover had occurred before the commencement of the law and continues three months after the commencement of the law. Where an offender is found guilty under this section, such offender is liable to 10 years imprisonment.
Also, under Section 3 of the law, it is now an offence to, without lawful authority, use or threaten violence for the purpose of securing entry into any landed property either for oneself or on behalf of another. The offence carries a 10-year imprisonment sanction upon conviction. The section also prohibits forceful entry with firearms, offensive weapons or any obnoxious or chemical materials. It is equally punishable to accompany such armed person into unlawful entry of a landed property or cause the injury or violation of any person in connection with the unlawful entry.
What must be hoped for is a conscious and sincere enforcement of the law in Lagos State (the Task Force Unit and other law enforcement agencies in the state have been saddled with the enforcement duties under Sections 12 and 13) and where other states of the country take cue and emulate this laudable idea, our society will sure be a better place for it.