Ogun Residents Plea Over Illegal Omo Oniles
A few months ago, the Lagos and the Ogun land grabbing law was published. This is basically to curb the excesses of omo onles in the two states. Now, a group of people has devised a new means to carefully and deceitfully grab properties from owners.
Residents of Oke-Aro town in Ifon Local Government Area of Ogun State have urged the government to investigate alleged attempts by some persons, including estate valuers, to unlawfully take control of their landed property.
The residents, whose homes are on or around Matogun Road in Oke-Aro, which bestrides land reserved by the Federal Government for power transmission lines under the National Independent Power Project (NIPP), said speculators were behind the plot.
They alleged that despite existing routes for the power lines to traverse, the government may be deceived to destroy people’s homes to make another ‘costlier’ route for the NIPP so that money could be spent on compensation, which those behind the plot would profit from.
They also alleged that the opportunists had caused panic in the community in recent weeks by spreading rumours of an imminent pulling down of their homes by the government.
However, members of Glory Land Community Development Association (CDA) in Oke-Aro said their inquiries had revealed that there was no such intention by the ministry and that the Ogun State government had also denied knowledge of any such extension by the Federal Government.
Some residents, especially the barely literate ones, had been deceived into signing documents which gave away absolute Power of Attorney over their homes.
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“They came around sharing forms without letting the people know what the forms were about. It was as if someone placed a handcuff before us and asked us to put our hands in it. I refused to accept the form when the agent could not answer my questions. But in two days, we had received about four to five letters of power of attorney from different estate agents,” Somuyiwa, one of the residents said.
He said the documents, copies of which were made available to our correspondent, granted the recipients exclusive rights to negotiate for compensation on behalf of the homeowners should their homes be pulled down by the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing.
Another resident, Otunba Idowu Adeyinka said persons claiming to represent estate agents brought the unsigned letters of power of attorney, even at night, and dropped it in each compound.
Adeyinka stated: “We have heard that some people have already signed the forms, but that is not our problem.
“We know that normally, if the Federal Government or any government wants to do something, it will notify the people, either by way of publication in the newspaper or by pasting posters around such area to let them know. It is not a third party that will now come and say ‘I want to represent you in negotiations with somebody.’
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“It is the government that should tell you in the first instance that this is what we are planning before you can now say let me have a power of attorney. Sensitization should have been done to show that there is such a project and the property, if any, which will be affected.”
This was confirmed by another resident, Mr. Alade Sodeke, who said his lawyer, Mr. Bayo Oludele, had written to the Minister of Power, Works, and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Fashola to find out what was going on.
The lawyer, Oludele said: “We are awaiting his response. But in the interim, I felt it was needful to get to the NIPP office too. They have an administrative office at Ikoyi. So, we will be going there to make inquiries. When he told me of the second and third letters of power of attorney being distributed, I reasoned that normally before you give somebody a power of attorney; it should be somebody you know.
“A stranger cannot just show up and say he wants to represent you and you agree. That would be very risky. Once you appoint him as your attorney, he can do and undo because you have signed away your rights and obligations to him and he could decide to be crafty.
“Before we built our houses here, many of us got approval from the government. You can’t come and say you want to take over another person’s property.
“And then, inquiries at Abeokuta Survey office indicated that it is not aware of this. Under the Land Use Act, all lands in Nigeria are vested in the Governor, not even the President. So, before they do anything, the state government should know, but it says it is not aware.”
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The men said they were concerned because they had heard of a similar government project in the past where people were deceived into signing away their property and were given peanuts as compensation by middlemen.
“When it was time to be paid, the middlemen waited until it was dark and asked the people to come to a hotel room one by one. A man whom the middlemen said would get N150, 000 was only given N15, 000,” Somuyiwa said.
This may be a new fraud scheme to displace more people in the state and cause another stage of panic for these residents. I urge the Government to look into this so that these people will be rest assured.
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Source: The Nation