The Lagos State Government has revealed that it has received a total of 1,000 petitions relating to forceful take-over of landed property in the State, through the Special Task Force Against Land Grabbers, out of which 350 were successfully resolved in the last one year.
Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Moyosore Onigbanjo (SAN), who said this at the Ministerial Press Briefing held at JJT Park, Alausa, Ikeja to commemorate Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s first anniversary in office, said deliberate efforts were made by government to strengthen the Taskforce to arrest and prosecute suspected notorious land grabbers in order to send a strong signal about the determination of the present administration to rid the State of illegal takeover of land owners’ property.
Giving details of the activities of the Ministry of Justice and its agencies in the last one year, Onigbanjo said: “The Taskforce with five Counsel received 1000 petitions out of which 350 have so far been resolved, while over 600 are pending and are at various stages of resolution”.
“About 20 petitions are currently being prosecuted in Court, 20 pieces of property under dispute were marked with inscriptions by the Office to prevent any further transactions until pending issues are resolved. The arrest and prosecution of several suspected land grabbers were also effected in conjunction with security personnel attached to the Governor’s Monitoring Team”, he added.
The Commissioner listed some of the cases handled by the Taskforce to include the Ejigbo land grabbing case which had gone viral on social media, popularly known as the Adeoye’s case, in which warrant of arrest was issued against the three alleged land grabbers; arrest and prosecution of land grabber at Ogudu GRA residential Scheme II; and recovery of land from a grabber at Ojota, among others.
He said, as part of the mandate of the Lagos State Domestic and Sexual Violence Response Team (DSVRT), the group in the period under review held a series of activities to galvanise strategic action and respond appropriately to formal and informal reporting of incidents of rape, defilement, domestic violence, child abuse, neglect and maltreatment.
He said the DSVRT has also organised training for Judges and Magistrates; held a special advocacy walk, tagged “Commit and Act” against all forms of sexual and gender-based violence, and equally ensured the arrest and arraignment of an alleged wife molester, one Sulaiman Maiyegun who, on the 5th of May, 2020, posted the beating of his wife which went viral on social media, adding that restraining orders were obtained in court against domestic violence abusers.
He said the Directorate of Citizen’s Rights (DCR) received 1,308 petitions out of which 1,070 have been resolved with 228 at different stages of resolution.
In his words: “These Petitions spread across the Departments various Units, which include the Human Rights Protection Unit (HRPU), Consumer Rights Protection Unit, Monetary Claims, Family Matters, the Employee/Employer Matters, and One-stop Child Justice Centre”.
“The department also took part in prison watch which had taken effect from May 2020 and conducted several rescue missions on abused children. Specifically, three children were rescued from their stepmother at Ikorodu; a 12-year-old boy was also rescued from his violent mother at Agege, while seven judgments were obtained at the National Industrial Court and an amount of N21,353,319 was recovered”, he said.
Onigbanjo said the Public Advice Centre (PAC) received and treated 131,253 cases including Walk-ins within the period under review, ranging from pension claims, labour disputes, environmental issues, domestic violence and general legal advice among others, noting that the Centre equally obtained monetary claim of N4,518,000 on behalf of parties.
He said the Administrator-General and Public Trustee, a unit responsible for managing and equitably sharing assets of Estates of persons who died intestate (without leaving a WILL) received over 253 petitions in the last 12 months, out of which 185 were resolved through the instrument of mediation.
“There were 704 Walk-In Enquiries where free legal services were rendered by seasoned Law Officers of the Ministry. Three Court orders were obtained to administer some Estates. The office took over 24 Estates through petitions filed in court; generated over £22,500 on an Estate abroad; paid N38,281,518.63 as Death /insurance benefits, and generated N120,136,489” he disclosed.
Onigbanjo said Governor Sanwo-Olu, through the Advisory Council on Prerogative of Mercy, granted order of release for 17 convicted inmates, while the Governor in April 2020 released additional 209 inmates convicted of minor offences as a way of decongesting the Prisons in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He added that some bills were also presented to the State House of Assembly for amendment including Amendment of LSNSCA Law 2019 to establish the State Amotekun Corps, Land Use Charge Law Amendment, Public Procurement Agency Amendment, and Stamp Duty Registration Amendment.
The Commissioner disclosed that 2,249 offenders were sentenced to community service for various offences, including some Nollywood celebrities who violated the COVID-19 social distancing regulations, asserting that their punishment was supervised by the Ministry at various public institutions including Hospitals, Remand Homes, Traffic Management and Market sanitations.
Furthermore, he said the Law Enforcement Training Institute (LETI) carried out training for 11,234 Law Enforcement Officers in the 2019 fiscal year and commenced deployment of body cameras for the officers, just as it sensitised critical stakeholders such as the National Union of Road Transport Workers (NURTW) members across board and market leaders, among others on compliance with relevant laws regulating their operations.
“LETI, in the period under review, commenced preliminary works on the acquisition and deployment of Body Cameras for use by the State Law Enforcement Agents; completed phase 1 of the upgrading of facilities and agility training ground; carried out disaggregation of training schedules for more effectiveness and efficiency, and introduced the new curriculum with special emphasis on proactive law enforcement as opposed to the reactionary model”, he said.