• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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Enforce land use law to avoid disputes, demolition, FG urged

Enforce land use law to avoid disputes, demolition, FG urged

Effiong Essang, an architect and a real estate expert, has called on the federal government to expedite actions in enforcing laws on land ownership and usage to avoid disputes and the demolition of properties.

Essang, who made this known recently in a statement, provided valuable insights into the ongoing land haggles and demolitions that have been a point of contention between state governments and local communities across Nigeria.

He noted that by enforcing strict ownership laws, educating property owners and developers and ensuring fair compensation, the government can mitigate conflicts and promote orderly development.

According to him, this not only protects the rights of property owners but also supports the broader goal of creating sustainable, livable cities for all Nigerians.

He stated that several states in Nigeria have witnessed a surge in demolitions of properties deemed to be illegally constructed or obstructing planned public right of way.

These, he stated, have sparked significant unrest among affected residents and property owners, leading to widespread calls for a more transparent and equitable approach to land use and urban development.

He identified two primary groups affected by these actions – the individuals or companies who acquired land and erected properties without the necessary approvals.

“These developments are illegal and often violate urban planning and zoning laws,” he explained. “On the other hand, there are those who build after going through the approval process but went to the site to develop with major alterations so now face the prospect of losing them due to non-conformity.

He added that there is also a third category – the ones who will lose the properties to overriding public interest and whose duly approved and built structures are in public infrastructures right of way, noting that they are due to be compensated by the government.

He stated that the duality presents a significant challenge for policymakers and urban planners, especially in a developing society “like ours, where governments are not capable of meeting up with the pace of urban development and citizens are forced to seek self-help.”

“Most of the shanties and urban slums we see around us fall into the group. While illegal constructions undermine the rule of law and orderly urban development, the forced removal of approved properties for public projects raises ethical and legal questions about fair compensation and the protection of property rights.”

Essang advocated for a comprehensive approach to resolving these issues. “The way forward is for the government, in collaboration with local communities, to establish and enforce strict laws governing land ownership and usage, but there is so much a government can do, for instance, in a mega metropolis like Lagos with a population over twenty million residents, “he asserted.

“This includes ensuring that all land acquisitions and construction adhere to legal requirements from the outset, thereby preventing future disputes.”

Essang emphasized the importance of fair compensation for those who have legally acquired and developed their properties.

“For properties that need to be relinquished for government projects, it is crucial that the affected owners receive adequate compensation that reflects the market value of their properties.”

“This not only respects their legal rights but also fosters trust and co-operation between the government and the populace.”