The growing rate of insecurity in Osun state is worrisome. The prevailing situations are consequences of our actions; the aggressive increase in crime rate and how these ‘law breakers’ have continued to hold both the people and government to ransom should really bother us. Osogbo, like many towns in Osun is now a hub for Omo Onile (sons of the original landowners), who assert ownership of land based on their autochthony to the state.
Omo Onile are sometimes abandoned kids who become outgrown urchins and terrors. This new business is not only thriving but it has become another opportunity to make money for Osogbo youths who can not engage in romance scams and prostitution. Despite the cries, sad tales and lamentations from victims of their exploitations, there’s no end in sight.
This development is not new but the ‘sharp’ increase is alarming. To build a house or erect new structures in Osogbo, you need more than certificate of ownership. Sometimes you don’t even need C of O, just pay some ‘cool cash’ to these ‘area boys’ and your site will be marked free. Those who secretly build houses to avoid troubles pay higher whenever the cat is left out of the bag. They have a stronger network, so wide that one can not successfully complete his or her building projects without their interferences. They do not issue receipts but they give assurances, an assurance of safety and successful completion of building projects.
For every land sold, they recieve percentage. They call it ‘security bill’ and if it is not paid, they cause conflict between landowners, buyers and private investors or sell the same parcel of land to multiple buyers and encroaching on land acquired legitimately by others. Either of these acts would frustrate the transaction and always result in big loss for the owners and buyers including investors.
It is important to note that Omo Onile become more pronounced in Osogbo as a result of the positive turnaround it witnessed. Some years ago, landowners or investors buy alcohols, foods and little cash to appease them but now they have grown wings. These Omo Oniles now operate like land grabbers, using force, deception, and intimidation to gain access and control over increasingly scarce land in the state capital. They inflict pains through beating or machete cuts. They beat up site workers such as bricklayers and labourers whenever landowners refuse to make payment.
Sometimes they kidnap landowners. These are not mere allegations. Victims of their atrocities are everywhere in the state, their tears and lamentations are deafening. Some people have questioned the silence of the state government and wondered if these ‘grabbers’ are beyond the control of the state. They know there’s an existing political leadership in the state but they do not know about the comatose state of the ministry of lands. Is the ministry aware of these strange developments? What steps have been taken by the ministry to resolve this impeding doom? What recommendations have they made for the governor in resolving the issue?
Some months ago, a colleague and friend confided in me that the Commissioner for land in an interview declared that Governor Oyetola has spent over N1billion for the digitisation of the ministry. He told my friend and those who care to listen that the ministry of lands has been digitalised. Till date, land owners still undergo a lot of stress and efforts to get their C of Os. One wonders why landowners go through such stress, if the ministry has been truly digitalised. Can any useful recommendation comes out as a solution from this same ministry who lied about its digitalisation to score cheap political scores? I strongly believe that the weakness of this ministry is one of the reasons why Omo Oniles continue to thrive in their new business.
I read a special report written by a friend and brother, Adejumo Kabir where he interviewed victims of Omo-Oniles atrocities. Kabir shed more light into the issue and captured the narrations of landowners, investors and site workers who were beaten, intimidated and molested by Omo-Oniles because they could not pay the due. These Omo-Oniles have introduced abduction of stubborn landowners into the scheme and they do not release them until they agree to pay the dues.
This development is a threat to peace and it must be treated with immediate alacrity. The thriving and easy growth of this ‘Omo-Onile’ business has attracted the attention of some young and active population in the state, gradually spreading its tentacles across the nooks and crannies of the state. These people are not afraid to act because they know that there will be no consequences. It is never too late for the state government to welcome solutions from people and if possible resuscitate the already dead Amotekun in battling with Omo-Oniles issue amongst others.
It is worthy to note that these thugs and lawbreakers know the weakness of the governor when it comes to security and they are exploiting it to their advantage. Recall that Governor, Oyetola survived two stone attacks and he was held hostage by thugs before the intervention of the police. Barely two weeks ago, some thugs invaded a hotel in Osogbo, attacked and injured some persons. Till date, these thugs are still roaming around freely. If they could attack a sitting governor with no consequences, what then is the fate of common citizens of the state?
Is it fear or the governor is happy about the activities of Omo-Oniles? The silence of Governor Oyetola is no more golden. The time to speak and act is now. People now keep extra funds to settle Omo Oniles because they want peace. These funds are not only important for security purpose but they give assurances of ownership and successful completion of projects.
Governor Oyetola must be ready to take up the leading role. Tough situations deserve tough decisions. The time for Governor Oyetola to face the issue is now. The continued patronage of these people is nauseating and it would only make things worse. We are too porous and less responsive to issues as a state, if this issue is not resolved quickly and it grows beyond the outreach of the sitting government, it will disastrous.