Anyone convicted of attempting to or forcefully seizing any landed property in Oyo State, otherwise known as land grabbing, will now face 15 years imprisonment or a fine of N500, 000 or both.
Also, any person who is deemed to have encroached on any real property commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for five years or a fine not exceeding N500,000.
These are among provisions in the new Real Properties Protection Law, 2016, assented to by the state governor, Senator Abiola Ajimobi, in the presence of Speaker, Oyo House of Assembly, Honourable Michael Adeyemo; and the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Seun Abimbola.
Among other provisions, the law also prescribes 10 years jail term or a fine of N500,000, upon conviction, for illegal entry into any construction site whether for the purpose of stopping, disturbing or demanding for any fees or levy in respect of construction activities.
Furthermore, any professional who in the conduct of his duties facilitates a contractual agreement between a land owning family and any other person knowing that such agreement will contravene the provisions of the new law is also liable to imprisonment for three years, a fine of N500,000, or both.
The law also provides that anyone that writes whatever is deemed to be a frivolous and unwarranted petition, containing false claims, under the anti-land grabbing law is liable to imprisonment for 10 years on conviction.
The law reads in parts, “Any person who, without lawful authority, uses or threatens violence for the purpose of grabbing any real property for himself or for any other person, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment of 15 years or a fine of N500,000 or both.
“Any person who is on any property as an encroacher and having with him any firearm, dangerous or offensive weapons, commits an offence and is liable on conviction to imprisonment for five years.”
“Any person who offers for sale any property knowing that he has no lawful title to the property or authority of the owner or sells a property knowing that that he has no lawful title to the property or that the property has been previously sold by him or his privies, is liable upon conviction, to imprisonment for five years.”
Speaking at the signing ceremony, Ajimobi said the law was meant to protect the rights of property owners and to stop the nefarious activities of land merchants who wilfully and violently seized people’s land.
He added that the new law would sanitise real estate and other associated businesses in the state.
Ajimobi also noted that the state government would protect landed property in the state, bearing in mind its economic potentials.
While presenting the bill for assent, Speaker of the state assembly, said though, a similar bill had been passed in some states across the country, that of Oyo State stood out in terms of content and provision.