On Monday, November 14, 2016, a law against land-grabbing became operative throughout the length and breadth of Ogun State. The sentences imposed against violators of the law range between 25 years of imprisonment and death sentence.
Sometime in 2014, I got a distress call from a colleague about the activities of land-grabbers, otherwise called ‘omo ‘nile’ or ‘ajagungbale’ in local parlance.
These gangsters wield dangerous weapons and demand obedience or capitulation from their victims. They operate like a mafia, “by fire, by force.” They are found in virtually every developing communities or new towns, where construction work is a defining feature. Their leaders live big.
Sometimes they operate as rivals groups where there is a conflict of interest but their ultimate goal is the same: they fleece their victims! Sometimes, there is mutual collaboration. What you observe from one community to the other is only a variation in their degree of bestiality. Some of them come with documents, pasting them all over your new building or ongoing construction work with the same authority you could only have expected from government officials. The usual claim is that the land belongs to their family and that you had paid the wrong person or party. And for any resolution, you will have to repurchase the land! Any attempt to argue with them may leave you battered, maimed or butchered, in the worst scenario.
And once there is construction work going on, they or another insatiate gang still reserves the right to be “settled” so they could allow workmen to continue else they seize all the tools in sight after some thorough beating. You have to abide by their terms willy nilly.
The government of Ogun State has done all within its power to tame these monsters. And some of them, we must acknowledge, have been tamed. But the position of the state governor is not to condone illegality in any form. It does not matter their largely restricted locations, reduction in the degree of their violent conducts or numbers. Any form or degree of illegality must be extirpated from the polity. This position of the governor is quite commendable and in line with the constitution. One is not really surprised because since assumption of office in 2011, Amosun has made security of life and welfare of all residents top priorities.
According to Governor Ibikunle Amosun: “We want to let people know that Ogun State will not be comfort zone for any criminal or so-called omo oniles (land grabbers). They have engaged in maiming, killing and lawlessness. But now, the law will go after them. We are now having an enabling law to prosecute and anybody that runs foul of this law will have himself or herself to blame.
”To the kidnappers, they know that this is their end. Anybody that involves himself in kidnapping, armed robbery and all these social vices will not be allowed in Ogun State. I want to believe that with the operation of this law, criminals will run away from the state.”
I commend the Ogun State House of Assembly and the state governor, Senator Amosun, for the new law and congratulate the people of the state for the further reprieve the new legislation will provide.
- Daniel Olakunle,
Akute, Ogun State.