The Lagos State Property Protection Law 2016 and the dissenting perspective (2)

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By AKHIGBE Dominic M

MON, OCTOBER 17 2016-It was always common for purported family agents to unlawfully sell family property without the consent of the head of the family. However, by virtue of the law, anyone who sells family property without the authority of the family head or sells government land without the authority of the relevant government authority shall be liable to 21 (Twenty – One) years imprisonment.

Due to the fact that many property/estate agents and sometimes, lawyers, have been known to aid the sale and unlawful encroachment of private property. Section 9, prohibits professionals from aiding in conduct that constitute an offence under the law and such professionals shall be reported to the relevant bodies for misconduct and appropriate actions.

A popular provision of the Law is the section that prohibits that harassment of property owners by the omo onile groups and other hoodlums. Section 10, states that persons who act as agents and demand a fee in regard to construction on properties shall be committing an offence and liable to a fine of 1(One) million naira and/or 2 (two) years imprisonment.

The Law also establishes a task force to enforce the law and grants jurisdiction to the Special Offences Court and other courts.

In other to prevent private persons from taking laws into their hands, no law enforcement agent, vigilante group, ethnic, cultural or traditional militia shall have the right to enforce the law except in terms with the Sheriffs and Civil Process Act.

However, like any other man made law, the PROPERTY Protection Law came with its own imperfection that seem to be raising dust among legally minded members of the public. One of such imperfections is contained in Section 11 of the Law. “That clause, which is included in that Section 11(1) says: The provision of this section shall not be interpreted to preclude land-owning families, under the authorization of the family head, to demand customary fee for possession (in the name of foundation level) from buyers, if that clause of the law is to be interpreted stricto censo, it means that the land-owning families are entitled to be collecting foundation fee and the conclusion  drawn from it is that collection of foundation fee is now legalized in Lagos State. The simple implication of this Section 11(1) is that if Mr. A buys a plot of land today and he decides to sell it to Mr. B tomorrow; Mr. A had paid foundation fee before, Mr. B will also be expected to pay foundation if he decides to pull down the building. Now, payment of foundation fee here as stated, there is no specification as to the sum to be paid; whether one per cent or two per cent, it is not stated. For not stating it here, it leaves the buyer is abeyance and abuse. This section is a sore taste round this noble effort.

In the opinion of legally minded persons, this section should be repealed or totally expunged. A family that has sold off a parcel of land has mitigated its right on that land; its right has been extinguished or vacated as far as that land is concerned.

The lawyer also observed that the section of the law is not specific as to how much the said “foundation fee” should be and how many times it would be paid. This therefore opens this section to abuse as it could be used as alibi to abuse the entire system.

In all, the enactment of this law brings succor to all lawful property owners in Lagos State and is highly welcome. No doubt the menace created would fizzle out with time. The Government allayed the fear of possible non-implementation by setting up a Task force to enforce this very popular law. The populace looks forward to a sanitized environment where land and property owners can enjoy peaceable possession without let or humiliation. Hopefully, this is what this law is set out to achieve.

AKHIGBE Esq is CEO, Property Logic Incorporated/Business coach & Seminar speaker/expert in business and property law. Email:Propertylogic.incorporated@gmail.com/www.propertylogicincorporated.com: Tel: 2348034846284

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