The law should not be enacted to cope and thrive in impossible
circumstances. It would be reasonable for lawmakers to carefully
evaluate factors such as; atmosphere, culture and living conditions of
the populace before and even after any policy or law is enacted if
such principle of law is to thrive.
The reasons are not far-fetched those aforementioned factors, being
major determinants of the life span acceptance or conformity of such
law by the populace.
Nobody commands a hungry man to stop eating or scavenging unhealthy
garbage without giving him an equitable alternative. Likewise, it is
not justiciable to prohibit civilians from crossing a highway without
aptly providing a pedestrian bridge as an alternative.
The enactment of appropriate laws to fit into inappropriate
circumstances will only be useful in filling the empty spaces in our
prisons. Such pitiable act of indiscretion would give rise to an
overwhelming burden for the judiciary, for both judges and lawyers
would be forced to resort to holding frequent vigils to keep up to the
task of attending to a swam of frequent offenders.
From a very frank perspective, the signing into law the Lagos State
Property Protection Law by the Governor of the State is very
thoughtful and commendable a bold step.
The said law amongst other things stipulates that land grabbers now
faces a maximum and minimum imprisonment term of twenty one (21) and
five (5) years respectively if convicted. It prohibits forceful
takeover of land, entry by force, illegal occupation of property, use
of land agents, illegal use of law enforcement agents, encroaching
with a weapon, sales of property without authority et cetera. This law
is most significant in consideration of its prohibition of the major
inhumane and burdensome activities of the “Omo Onile” (the children of
Section 10 of the said law states that persons who act as agents and
demand a fee in regard to construction on properties shall be deemed
to have committed an offence and liable to a one million Naira mulct
or fine, or two (2) years imprisonment.
Scintillating as this provision maybe, it remains still a very sad
knotty reality that the State Government and Lagosians are yet to face
the truth. Having not properly taken an evaluative environmental
impact assessment of said law on the people as perceived and the
chances of such law standing the test of time in Lagos State, makes it
even more convoluted.
Nobody has asked the unavoidable question. Instead, all we do is just
applaud the state government for depriving these jobless humans of
their bone without providing meat as alternative. We just expect them
to walk away and desist from such act, knowing no proper organization
or even the government will readily employ them with a reasonable pay.
Should we all really applaud the Lagos State House of Assembly and the
Governor for their effort? For me, I am not off the beaten track if my
final score sheet reads the government is still half way to the
completion of the task.
I by no means whatsoever encourage mediocrity, indulgence or laziness
from any human being, and I cannot as well gainsay the fact that these
characters abound in our society today. Despite the fact that every
able citizen is obliged to work hard to survive and desist from
sabotaging the effort of others, some persons still tend to resort to
inhumane acts for survival.
No matter how odd it might seem, the inhumane activities of the “Omo
Onile” has served as one means of survival for many youths and jobless
able Nigerians. Thus, putting on their lens (Omo Onile) would
literally birth the view that the signing into law the property
protection law berefts most of them their livelihood.
It would be a laughable display of stark ignorance if the state
government thinks such a step would witness an overwhelming conformity
from these miscreants. I do not in any way support the delinquent acts
of criminals they being made to face the penal rigors of the law. I
rather believe and advocate for a conferral benefit system where the
root causes of a crime is addressed than its symptoms.
Will the land grabbers sit idle at home, comforting themselves as good
law abiding citizens in the unending companion of the prevailing
economic hardship with the operation of this law? What should they do
indeed? Move on without the state government’s equal provision as
alternative means of survival or employment in a gross over populated
city like Lagos?
On the flip side of the coin, a good government after taking such
commendable step in enacting the law would organize re-orientation
programmes for these youths who in their rigid opinion such a law is
only another strategy of government oppression.
The re-orientation would aim at disabusing their minds and revealing
the true unjust nature of such act. That is what I initially referred
to as the conferral benefit system; it is a means of social
If the Lagos State Government is one truly ‘for the people’ it would
further complete this tedious task by equally creating training
facilities for them, engage them in profitable hand work trades and
businesses. This would by no means make the Lagos State Government
weak, languid or incapable, invariably will such steps serve as an
equitable transitioning from criminal activities into empowering the
economy. No doubt the scale would snowball to a reasonable
equilibrium, an equipoise- a balance of interest giving rise to both
moral and legal justification for enforcing the property protection
The government would have the absolute right to utilize the full wrath
of the law on any remaining recalcitrant person (s) who still dare to
contravene the provisions of this new law.
Such act of government will indeed be becoming a semblance to what is
currently the state of Berger. The construction of a pedestrian bridge
has turned the government’s deployment of “Kick Against Indiscipline”
(Kai) into a huge success. Lagosians now frequently use the bridge
rather than crossing the highway and get arrested by ‘KAI’. This act
has brought order, reduced accident rate and restored peace to the
Berger axis of Lagos State.
Save the fact that the state government briskly adopts this final
steps, the brilliant signing of the Lagos State Property Protection
Law would be another epic failure as the law would receive an
insignificant rate of conformity.
In fact, these rogues and miscreants might device more sinister means
of perpetrating their acts and eventually result to a lose-lose
scenario for the state government. Many abled Lagosians will pay
inevitable visits to the prison, and various investors and land owners
would still bear the brunt.
Awodimila Christopher writes from