General

EKSG goes tough on land grabbers

In the bid to ensure reliable and efficient land administration and management in the Ekiti State, the state Governor, Dr. Kayode Fayemi, on Monday inaugurated a Judicial Commission of Enquiry on Land and Related Matters.

Addressing members of the committee during their inauguration at the Executive Council Chamber of the Governor’s Office, Ado-Ekiti, Governor Fayemi explained that the committee would work based on the Executive Order 008 he signed recently which was in furtherance of the government’s desire to undertake sustainable land reform in the state.

The committee, which is chaired by a Judge of the High Court, Justice Adekunle Adeyeye, also has Hon. Johnson Remi Olorunleke and Ifedapo Osadola (Esq) as members while Tosanbami Odudu is secretary.

Dr. Fayemi said the rate at which people engage in sharp practices to secure land by whatever means has become worrisome to the government, warning government officials and other members of the society who collude with other agents to grab government and individual or family land would henceforth be prosecuted.

He noted that one major challenge that government faces is the increasing cases of land grabbing and other fraudulent land transaction across the state adding that in an effort to curb the unlawful activities of land grabbing, the government enacted the Ekiti state property protection anti-land grabbing law of 2019 with the objective to prohibit forceful entry, violent and fraudulent conduct in relation to landed property in the state.

Dr. Fayemi also explained that Executive Order No 8, 2020 specifically directs the Bureau of Lands to undertake measures aimed at achieving certainty and clarity in land administration including revocation and reallocation of Certificate -of-Occupancy of all lands that have not been developed for a period of three years commencing from the date of allocation. This is in addition to giving 30 days full payment timeline to land allottees who developed their land without full payment failure of which the allocation would be cancelled and the property forfeited to the government.

According to the Governor, the measures would also give a 21-day full payment timeline to allottees who made only part-payment for the land allocated to them and have not developed it. Such allocations, he said should be cancelled and reallocated at the expiry of 21 days.

The Governor said the intervention was aimed at guaranteeing ownership and security of tenor; support land and property taxation; protect the state’s land as well as improve urban planning and infrastructure development among others.

He explained that his administration was determined to reverse the impunity that had characterized land administration in the state which would be achieved through the establishment of a land administration and management steering committee to ensure effective coordination among ministries, departments, and agencies in developing and adopting a long term vision, goals and strategic direction for land administration in Ekiti.

To achieve this intervention, the Governor revealed that he had earlier directed the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice to visit the 16 local government areas and hold consultations with the community leaders including traditional institutions on government land reform programme as well as educate the communities on the existence of anti-land grabbing law and government determination to enforce the law.

“I have since received the report of the visit of the Hon. Attorney-General and it is obvious that our approach to land reform must be immediate, firm, and strategic if we are to achieve our objectives.

“Of concern to me is the depth of the problem of land grabbing in our state, it is worrisome that state’s land is not exempted from this criminal activity, but what I found most particularly distressing is that some government officials have been involved in the illegal dealing on state’s land.

“It has now become obvious that in addition to enabling and appropriate legal framework for prohibiting criminal conduct in a land transaction, there is now the need for an effective enforcement mechanism to ensure that persons who traffic in landed properties are identified and prosecuted in accordance with the extant laws of Ekiti state.

“Our commitment to the eradication of unlawful land transactions is not simply a matter of law and order, we firmly believe that an efficient and effective land administration system will enhance government efforts in achieving poverty reduction and promotion of economic growth.

“This why deliberate efforts have been made to communicate government policy on land administration to our people in addition to the frequent use of the media and other message transmitting platforms available to the government. Dr. Fayemi said.

Responding on behalf of other members, the Chairman of the commission, Justice Adekunle Adeyeye thanked the Governor for counting them worthy to serve in the committee with the promise that they would not fail the state.

Source: Government of Ekiti State, Nigeria