Deputy Majority Leader, Lagos State House of Assembly, Mr. Olumuyiwa Jimoh, who is representing Apapa II, speaks to Vanguard on the newly enacted law criminalising land grabbing in the state.
What is the significance of the land grabbing law?
The land grabbing law is important in so many ways. Hitherto, there was a law that addressed the issue of land grabbing but not directly the way this particular law has done. We had Lagos State Criminal Procedure Law, which is general but considering that Lagos is a megacity and the rate of demand for land and property, we needed to address the problem. We discovered that there is a cartel, which has become so sophisticated in grabbing other peoples’ lands. That is what prompted the House to pass the law addressing directly the issue of land grabbing in Lagos and the law was well accepted by the people because it addresses the fundamental issues. There have been series of controversies between land owners or buyers or people invading another person’s land and with this law, it means that if you get land adequately receipted and documented, it will be difficult for anybody to confiscate your land because the issue of land grabbing has always been there from creation. Though there was a law that addressed the issue, but that very law was too general because it addresses all other criminal matters in totality. But this very law was specific on land grabbing, that is why it is an offence to invade other peoples’ land in Lagos.
How feasible is the workability of this law?
As a lawmaker, I will tell you it is going to work because it is different from all other laws that have been in existence. On the other hand, it is a collective responsibility. We are to make law, it is the duty of the police and other law enforcement agencies to enforce the law. It is now the collective responsibility of everyone to make sure that the law works. We have identified our problem, so the workability of the law lies between you and I and the law enforcement agencies.
Is the punishment appropriate?
It is proportional to what is at stake. The penalty is a deterrent to subsequent offenders. The essence of the law is to regulate our conducts and our activities so we can live harmoniously.
How would government handle the cartel?
That is the essence of the law. Some were constituting themselves into a cartel and now taking it as a business. We had to come up with the law based on the petitions we received. This will deter those who are trying to turn it into a profession. The essence of this law is to curb the activities of those people who see it as a profession.
Has there been anyone apprehended?
It is a new law, it has not been subjected to test but we are watchful in Lagos and we want to make sure that those who break the law are brought to justice.