Omonile Syndrom Hindering Mortgage Financing – Experts | Independent Newspapers Limited
Newsletter subscribe


Omonile Syndrom Hindering Mortgage Financing – Experts

Posted: Jun 15, 2015 at 12:01 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Nkasiobi Oluikpe , Lagos

Former chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Quantity Surveyors (NIQS), Lagos chapter, Olayemi Shonubi, has said that government should tackle the OmoOnile phenomenon, which is the biggest challenge in home ownership apart from land titling.

OmoOniles heading for a showdown

OmoOniles heading for a showdown

OmoOnile is a term used in the South West to describe land touts, land scammers, land grabbers and every manner of landed property vices. In the real sense, OmoOnile means indigenes, natives, sons of the soil or original owners of the land, but findings have proven that majority of the people who perpetuate the OmoOnile acts are recruited touts said to have come from distant places from where they perpetuate their acts.

Shonubi said government is just wasting time if this OmoOnile issue is not tackled.

“Imagine you building a house on mortgage and somebody feels he is one of the shenanigans, comes and demolish the place, how do you pay the mortgage? The one that is even more amazing to me is the one they call ‘Ajagungbale’ (people who fight to acquire land).

“In this 21st century, people will call themselves ‘warriors that take over other peoples land’. They do it in the rural areas of Ikorodu and Shagamu. They will just go and invade a particular village with thugs, kill the people and take over their land, claiming they are the owners.

“Government might need to create a special taskforce to begin to deal with this OmoOnile phenomenon, so as to prosecute all the people involved. They operate with impunity because none of them have ever been prosecuted,” he said.

In 2013, the Lagos State House of Assembly proposed the State Property Protection Bill, which will curb the activities of the OmoOnile. But till date, the Bill is yet to be passed to law and the urchins are still having a field’s day

Their unabated operation is such that has frightened some intending builders away from achieving their home ownership dreams. For any intending building, the budget will need to be doubled, to accommodate the OmoOnile nuisance.

Some others are not out to reclaim the land from the buyer, but ensures they make the life of the builders miserable. They invisibly keep watch over the land at a distance, waiting for construction to begin. Once, they notice any form of human presence on the land, they appear, imposing all manner of levies; these levies range from Owo (money for) foundation; owo roofing,

owo plastering, owo soak away, owo borehole, and owo fencing. Peradventure, the builder is erecting a storey building; they will appear to collect owo decking. People are coerced to comply without which, blood might flow. This has made the cost of building in most cases, double.

Their unhindered activities have for a long time impacted negatively both on home ownership and mortgage financing because they have no respect for any form of land titling/Certificate of Occupancy (C of O). Many have lost their lives in the process of enforcing their rights of ownership on their landed property because they wield all manner of weapons in their operation, including going diabolical.

Those on mortgage, who muster the courage to go to court, are left with bitter tales of woe to tell as the mortgage finance company itself does not understand the language of the OmoOnile.

Now, people are asking, for how long shall they be left at the mercy of the OmoOniles? Are the authorities handicapped? Who are they to turn to for help? These and many other questions agitate the minds of willing builders, led Independent newspapers to seek the views of experts and other well meaning Nigerians.

The nightmarish phenomenon that has come to be known as OmoOnile is said to have originated from Lekki in Lagos State and spread to all other parts of the Southwest Nigeria. Though, land touting exists in different parts of the country in various forms, the Southwest OmoOnile appears to have become an authority, dreaded even by the government.

They operate in various forms. In some cases, the original owners of the land sell the land to a particular buyer and at the same time, turn around to connive with some touts or area boys to threaten and inform the former buyer that he or she bought the land from the wrong set of people, not from the original owners. In such situation, there are usually ready buyers, so they will turn around and resell the same parcel of land to another buyer with another set of original documents bearing a different family name.

They do not work in isolation, hence, succeed in their operation.

In the opinion of High Chief, (not real names) the OmoOniles are not even contesting that those lands were not bought, they could just come, chop off some part of it and resell and there is nothing you can do about it. In some cases, they take over the entire land, only for somebody else to erect a structure there almost immediately.

“You see the annoying thing about this whole thing is that, after paying for the land, you go and pay for Baale’s council money, which doesn’t stop anything from happening to the land, you pay for the boys and pay for the original owners of the land again.

According to High Chief, it is ironical to know that these broad day robbers work in collaboration with people who Nigerians are likely to run into for protection. The way out, he suggests, is to strengthen the land law in such a way that once you have a C of O, you are covered.