A Bill which criminalises the activities of land touts and grabbers popularly known as “Omo Onile’s” or “Ajagungbale’s”, which was recently passed by the Lagos State House of Assembly, is an action which has understandably been hailed in many quarters. The reason for this is not far-fetched. These hoodlums have been making life hell for landowners and property developers in Lagos State. They have, over the years, earned their notoriety through such criminal actions as forceful entry and illegal occupation of landed properties, violent and fraudulent extortion of property developers, selling a piece of land to two or more, different, individuals leading to clashes and litigations among the buyers, amidst  other acts of land touting. They also indulge in the sale of properties without the knowledge of the real owners. What many find baffling is the fact that they have always acted with impunity, arrogantly giving the impression that they are above the law. The reality of the menace of Omo Onile to property owners in Lagos is evident in the disputes over land as well as warning notices such as: ‘This Land (or House) Is Not For Sale, Buyers Beware’ that have become common sights in most parts of the state. Their criminal antics have been copied by hoodlums in other parts of the country, and land touting has joined the growing list of new urban crimes in Nigeria. We believe the Bill passed by  Lagos State House of Assembly is a timely response to check their excesses.Akinwumi-Ambode

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