In recent times, activities of land grabbers have caused havoc and unrest in different parts of Lagos State. These land grabbers come in different colours and shapes, but their mission is one – to dispose of legitimate landowners of their property.
They operate through force and intimidation to gain access and control over increasingly scarce land. Often, they cause tensions, including conflicts between landowners, buyers and private investors.
They not only claim lands that do not belong to them, but they also dispossess them from legitimately owners. In order to curb their nefarious activities, succeeding governments in Lagos State have devised various strategies.
One of such is the enactment of the Lagos State Property Protection Law on August 15, 2016, which prohibits the forceful entry and illegal occupation of landed property, and violent and fraudulent conduct in relation to landed property in the state.
The law seeks to eliminate land grabbing in its various forms that include forceful possession of landed property, encroachment, illegal sale and resale of land, illegal use of law enforcement agents and vigilante groups to enforce judgements, misconduct by professionals in land transactions, writing of frivolous and false petitions, unlawful demands by ‘Omo Onile’, touting among other ills.
However, these land grabbers have also devised a method of duping unsuspecting buyers of land by brandishing court judgments in their favour to show that they own title to land and with that judgement they can sell the land without any fear or favour. It is a fraud that many people have fallen for in Lagos State.
The general rule is that if there is a dispute on land, the best way to solve the dispute is by approaching the court for adjudication. The court gives a judgment on the land and depending on the dispute at hand, the case might go to the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court and it might take years before judgement is delivered one way or the other.
The recent alarm raised by the Chief Executive Officer of Adamakin Investment and Works Limited, Chief Afolabi Akindele, soliciting the support of the Inspector General of Police, IGP Usman Alkali Baba, to investigate an alleged threat to his life and forceful possession of his undeveloped land in Okun-Ajah, Lekki, Lagos State is a case of crying wolf where there is none. Akindele had alleged that the land in contention had been a subject of litigation which he had won, but some certain individuals have been trespassing on the said land.
He claimed to possess a Supreme Court judgement which predates the amalgamation of Nigeria, warning that landowners in Lagos and some parts of Ogun states may need to authenticate Certificates of Ownership and pay outstanding debts owed to the “rightful owners” of lands they now occupy “illegally”.
According to him, the lands were acquired and procured legally by the Late Iyalode Efunroye Tinubu before her demise in 1887 adding that the late Efunroye Tinubu expanded her territory by purchasing the Ewe Agbigbo/Iwaya farmlands owned by the Olotos with 200 bags of cowries, 200 pieces of kolanuts, ten slaves and a live ram a year after.
Afolabi who claimed to be the family Attorney also claimed that a survey conducted by Herbert Macaulay in 1910 and tendered as exhibit in court in 1912 confirmed Efunroye’s claim to the lands. He asserted that his company has the “red copy” of her estate, which is a valid proof of Mamdam Efunroye Tinubu’s claim to all lands in Lagos and its environs. But, many are wondering the distortion in the narrative being spread by the family of Madam Efunroye Tinubu.
The is because, it has been established that Idejo chiefs are according to Lagos tradition, the original land owners of the island of Lagos, being descendants of Olofin who first colonized Iddo Island of Lagos. Some members of the Idejo aristocracy, the Elegushi, for example, have had their status elevated to that of an Oba. The thirty-two children of Olofin (some of who were nonbiological) included Olumegbon, Aromire, Oloto, Oluwa, Oniru, Onisowo, Onitolo, Elegushi, Ojoro, and Onikoyi.
For instance, in the case of Amodu Tijani v Secretary, Southern Nigeria  2 AC 399,  UKPC 80, also known as the Apapa land case, decided by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council concerning land title. The controversy at issue in the case arose in 1913, when the colonial government of Nigeria appropriated land in Apapa, pursuant to the Public Land (Acquisition) Ordinance 1903, in order to give it to European merchants.
The land was occupied by the Oluwa family, under the leadership of Amodu Tijani Oluwa. In that case, Tijani argued before the Nigerian courts that he was owed compensation for the expropriation, because the land belonged to him personally.
His claim was unsuccessful. Also, in an advertorial published in the Nigerian Tribune on Friday, 14th August 2021, the Adoyi family accused Efunroye Tinubu family of deliberate falsification of the facts of history to suit selfish ends of the ownership of lands in Lagos.
The publication cited several legal encounters between the late Madam Iyalode Efunroye Tinubu family/ Trustees/Attorney against Sholuyi village, Tinubu village and Idi-Oro in suits numbers HC/ AB/124/1957, HC/ID/133/81, CA/L/159/93 5C/210/1967, SC/364/2002 and in other suits to Farmer Tenants of Adoyi also commonly referred to as Odoyi/Ajoye Chieftaincy.
The Adoyi family stated that several declarations of ownership of title have been determined in their favour by the Supreme Court of Nigeria and the West Africa Court of Appeal (WACA). Besides, the Land Use Act, promulgated in 1978, vested all land comprised in the territory of each State in the Federation in the governor of the State, in trust, to be administered for the use and common benefit of all Nigerians in accordance with the provisions of the Act.30. Abiodun Emmanuel