Edo Attorney General provides insights on govt's campaign against land-grabbing, as 2022/23 legal year begins

7 Oct 2022

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This will be a good point to address what has become (within the legal community) the big elephant in the room. Recently, the government has had to embark on hard but necessary steps to take back our city from the hands of reckless criminal gangs masquerading as land grabbers/speculators, whose activities threaten to turn our city into one huge ungoverned and unplanned urban slum. I must note that at this point that available evidence clearly indicates that there is an intersection in the data showing a linkage between those engaged in the unholy trinity activities of land grabbing, cultism and violent crimes.

No responsible government would raise its hands in surrender while non-state actors engage in damaging activities that threaten our common patrimony and constitute a dis-incentive to the attraction of private investment. The forgoing are the underpinnings of the recent actions taken by government to retrieve the peoples’ land hijacked by criminal gangs, some of which had been sold to gullible persons who apparently would purchase land and carry out developments thereon without even approved plans or a simple search at the Edo GIS which would have revealed the true title to the land and the existence of a new town layout designed to enhance the orderly growth of our city.

It is a common saying that “you do not make omelettes, without breaking a few eggs” and we must therefore send the word out that this administration has no intention of going back on its determination to combat land grabbing in all its pernicious forms and to ensure that all who profit from it pay a very high price for their anti-social activities. These would include sanctions on erring professionals rendering service to such unlawful activities across the built environment of Edo State.

We would plead therefore with our mother association, the LION BAR to recognize that government is not the enemy here and to resist the temptation to get drawn into battle on the side of persons who manipulate the system to damage the common good. We have no fear or objection to meeting any legitimate claimants in the courts. That is as it should be.

To paraphrase the famous observation of the Supreme Court in DOKUBO-ASARI V. FRN (2007) 12 NWLR (PT.1048) 320; no individual’s profit motive or pecuniary interest can override the commitment of the common good of society as a whole.

It is worrisome sometimes that lawyers in public service are instinctively threated as pariahs by our mother association as if membership the Bar Association does not include these class of law officers. It can appear very unfair when our own association takes our money in fees, dues and conference participation, but sees fit to exclude us entirely in the process of public engagement on issues which should concern all lawyers. We are tired of being treated as illegitimate children and demand a fair say in affairs that concern us all.


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