Mr. Adeolu Ogunbanjo, Chairman, Association of Estate Agents of Nigeria (AEAN), has described the activities of land grabbers (Omo-Onile) as a major challenge affecting the development of housing and infrastructure in the country.
Ogunbanjo made the observation in an interview in Lagos on Tuesday. He said the frequent demands of the land grabbers had discouraged many investors from investing in the real estate sector.
The chairman said most investors, after considering all the payments involved in acquiring and developing housing projects including the payments to the land grabbers, usually diverted their investments to other sectors.
According to him, the land grabbers usually surface after developers might have paid the original landowner and made all necessary payments for the land.
“The issue of Omo-Onile is a serious challenge to the real estate sector. All land belongs to the state government.
“After an investor buys a land and makes necessary payments, I see no reason for the Omo-Onile to continue to surface with different demands.
“Let the issue of Omo-Onile be eliminated for the real estate industry to record remarkable growth,” Ogunbanjo said.
He added that they stop work from going on at sites and were ready to kill in cases where the developer failed to meet their demands.
Ogunbanjo commended the Lagos State Government for setting up special Task Force on land grabbers and called for more public awareness regarding the duties of the task force.
“The activities of these people constitute an obstacle to structural developments and can discourage many from investing in this area because not all developers can compromise to such exploitative demands,” he said.
He lamented that some architects and developers had lost their lives through the actions and activities of land grabbers.
“Even when someone wants to bring in some big machines and equipment into the factory, the same set of people will surface demanding for payments.
“I think the government should look into the issue and put an end to it by enacting a law that prohibits any set of people from collecting money from developers,” he said. Ogunbanjo expressed the fear that if nothing was done to curb the exploitative activities of land grabbers, it would eventually be established as a norm.
He said such behaviour was unhealthy for a developing country like Nigeria.