Surveyors, under the Association of Private Practicing Surveyors of Nigeria, an arm of the Nigerian Institution of Surveyors (NIS), Ogun State branch, have decried the Ogun State anti-land grabbing law, describing it as ‘useless’ and ‘ineffective.’
The surveyors say the legislation only allows the law enforcement agencies, especially the police to extort them.
The association’s position is against the backdrop of incessant land grabbing, continued attacks and other crimes being committed against the surveyors, other related professionals and landowners by land grabbers and illegal land speculators.
Speaking at a public lecture organized by the association on the “Anti-land grabbing law of Ogun State which was promulgated in 2016, Adewale Oluwafemi, chairman of the association, observed that the abnormalities and ugly trends which the law was expected to address have worsened even with the existence of the law.
Oluwafemi, who implored the state judiciary to help compel the implementation of the prohibition of forcible occupation of landed properties, armed robbery, kidnapping, cultism and other anti-violence and related offences law 2016 of Ogun State, said the non-implementation of the law only empowers the police to arrest, detain and extort surveyors, other related professionals and landowners across the state.
“The association has been desirous of giving proper publicity to the anti-land grabbing law of Ogun State government. This is because, since this law came into force, we have not seen any difference in the issue of buying, selling, demarcation and surveying of land in Ogun State which the law is supposed to affect one way or the other.
“Illegal land agents popularly known as Ajagungbales still operate unabated. The general public seems not to know their rights on issues of land ownership and building on the land. Before the advent of the anti-land grabbing law, we saw occasions where the police made arrests of surveyors during the course of carrying out their duties of demarcation and surveying of land for their clients.
“The popular charge was that of encroachment. There is a need for the police to be aware that surveyors can never be charged for encroachment. They are protected under the law to enter into any land for their clients. If a person wants to do a survey for the purpose of litigation, how does the surveyor do the necessary demarcation and surveying without entering the land to work on it? The police approach in most cases is to arrest and detain such surveyors on the charge of encroachment.”
Responding, Justice Abiodun Akinyemi of the Ogun State judiciary, who was a guest lecturer, noted that the law enforcement agencies have no power over land matters let alone the arrest and detention of the parties involved in the land matters.
He said section 39 of the Survey Act permits surveyors to enter any land or premises at any time, adding, however, “the only thing is that you need the permission of the owners.”
“I doubt if any court has convicted any surveyor for his job, it’s only police that arrest surveyor doing his job, maybe they don’t know and you need to educate them. It’s illegal for the police to arrest surveyors for doing their job. What is encroachment or trespass for surveyors? The only thing is that you (surveyors) will seek the permission of the owners of the land or premises before you enter the land or get the authorization order from a court.
“It’s unfortunate that the popular anti-land grabbing law in Ogun has not been implemented. If this law is implemented, many traditional rulers will go to jail because they connive with Ajagungbales (land grabbers). If that an Oba is charged before me, I will send him to jail; it’s bastardization of the traditional institution.
“Land grabbers are not mean people, they are highly-placed people who are thugs and miscreants and surveyors should not join them because you are professionals, you have a noble profession. What is stopping its implementation (anti-land grabbing law), what does it cost, it’s possible that the state governor is not aware, but what are those people in charge doing, what is director-general, Bureau of Lands and Survey doing, what is surveyor-general and the ministry of justice doing?. He queried.