Osazee Edigin, an estate developer, has said that the escape route to overcoming the persistent challenges of unlawful possession of land and other illegal activities of land grabbers in Edo State was to create a central digitalised register for land sales and purchase.
The estate developer told BusinessDay in Benin City that the process of buying landed properties should be well organised so that land documents obtained will have security features and a unique number that can easily be verified online for ownership.
Edigin’s recommendation which came against the backdrop of the recent demolition of buildings in Ulegun community in Ikpoba-Okha Local Government Area of the state said the initiative, if properly annexed and managed, is capable of enhancing revenue in the state.
“The demolition that took place in Ulegun community was supposed to be a pointer for Edo people to sit back and begin to ponder on how to forestall future occurrences. The fight against land grabbing cannot be won through reactionary approach but through thought-out policies and strategies.
“The Oba of Benin and the current state governor came on board almost same period. Among their major policy thrusts was putting an end to land grabbing menace at all cost. The Oba of Benin as the custodian of the traditional administration of Edo south senatorial district indigenes called on the abolition of the Community Development Association (CDA).
“The state governor on his part initiated an executive bill on the protection of private properties and related matters which prohibited the forceful entry of lands and placed a ban on the activities of the CDAs. A committee was set up to look at complaints and this seemed to have brought some respites as petitions flooded the table of the committee.
“The process of buying landed properties should be streamlined that communities and individuals selling or buying must follow a centrally configured process. Before a land is bought, a buyer can easily check online using the coordinates and unique number on the land document to check if the land truly belongs to the seller or if it’s a government-acquired land,” Edigin said.
On the issue of disputes on land ownership, he suggested that special courts be created for land- related matters with a charge that any matter should not exceed one year before judgement.
“This will eliminate unnecessary adjournment and delays. The cases should be heard and disposed as soon as possible. Some land-related matters have been in the lower court for over 20 years. This is capable of discouraging people from going to court and would rather resort to self help,” he added.
Governor Godwin Obaseki had, while inspecting a guard of honor by the special police squad, a detachment deployed to work with the state government and the Edo State police command to check the activities of land grabbers, said the government is taking action to stamp out the issue, assuring that erring individuals would be prosecuted to serve as deterrent to others.