LAGOS State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, on Monday, fulfilled his pledge of making the menace of land grabbing in the state a thing of the past, with the signing of the Lagos State Properties Protection Law.
In the Act signed into law, Lagos State House of Assembly prescribed maximum jail term of 25 years for anyone convicted of land-grabbing.
The minimum jail term is 10 years.
The governor also signed the Lagos State Neighbourhood Safety Corps Law, a move aimed at boosting security of lives and property in all the local government areas (LGAs) and local council development areas (LCDAs) of the state.
Ambode, who spoke at the signing ceremony, which was attended by the speaker, Honourable Mudashiru Obasa; the state Chief Judge, Justice Olufunmilayo Atilade and other top government functionaries, said the laws were central to his administration’s focus of safeguarding the lives of all residents.
He said it was also aimed at attracting, growing investments and improving the ease of doing business in the state.
“In addition to equipping our security agencies, we have now created a legal framework to put some form of communal protection in place to boost and support the great job the Nigeria Police is presently doing,” Governor Ambode said.
The governor explained that the Neighbourhood Safety Corps would assist the police and other security agencies to maintain law and order across the communities, adding that the Neighbourhood Safety Agency, which the new law established, would also be charged with the responsibility of registering all private home security and any other person employed for private home security amongst other things.
On the Properties Protection Law, Governor Ambode said the need for the law followed the fact that one of the issues that discouraged investors and hindered the ease of doing business in Lagos in the past had always been the menace of land grabbing.
He recalled that a lot of would-be property owners encountered untold harassment from exploitative land grabbers, saying that the law now marked the end of the road for such land grabbers.
“The Properties Law will eliminate the activities of persons or corporate entities who use force and intimidation to dispossess or prevent any person or entity from acquiring legitimate interest and possession of property, ensure that the Special Task Force on Land-Grabbers work with all security agencies to ensure enforcement of State Government and Private property rights in the state, and ensure proper coordination of the efforts of the various agencies of government charged with enforcing the state government’s rights over land in Lagos,” the governor said.
Besides, Governor Ambode said the presence of the heads of the three arms of government – the executive, legislature and judiciary, at the signing ceremony was a confirmation of the seriousness and resolve of government of Lagos State to address the issues once and for all.
While setting the tone for the signing ceremony earlier, the state Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, had said the laws marked demonstration of promise kept by the present administration and recalled the donation of security equipment to security agencies on two occasions within six months, which had aided the police and other security agencies in reducing crime.
He added that the laws would go a long way in further providing the necessary legal, human and material support to security services in the discharge of their duties.
In his remarks, Honourable Obasa said the signing of the two laws confirmed that Lagos was being governed by a responsible governor and a responsive government, adding that the move was also a clear and emphatic message to criminals that Lagos was a no-go area for their criminal activities.