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  If you live in Lagos and you know anything about its real estate scene, you’ll probably know how problematic the ‘Omo Onile’ (‘sons of the soil’) can be. They are often a thorn in the flesh of people who want to purchase property, and often remain troublesome long after it has changed ownership.
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This impediment isn’t just a Lagos problem, but it’s a well-known hindrance to successfully selling or holding landed property in the state. How can you avoid them? Is there a way to steer clear of the difficulties they bring?

Steps You Can Take

Here are seven steps you can take to reduce or eliminate the menace of the Omo Onile as a real estate investor in Lagos State.

Make Sure The Property Is Not Disputed

Don’t just take the land seller’s word for it. Do some background research to ascertain that the property you want to buy is not disputed. Usually, you’ll get good information from the locals in the area. You can also ask a real estate agent familiar with the area to do this for you.

Work With A Real Estate Lawyer

Sometimes you’ll need to draw from the power of the law to ward off any miscreant who wants to extort you. But you can’t do this effectively unless you know what the law says about the situation. Working with an experienced real estate lawyer will help you overcome some of the attempted extortion and land disputation perpetuated by so-called sons of the soil.

Determine That The Title Documents Are Genuine

If you are purchasing land from private individuals or a family, make sure that they’re giving you original title deeds for that land. By authenticating your land documents, you put yourself in good stead to win any legal tussle that may arise from purchasing the land. But if the title deeds are incomplete or fake, do not go ahead with the purchase.
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Verify The Land

What if the land actually belongs to the government? Or what if the documents belong to someone other than the person or family who wants to sell you the property? There are several ways to find out. Read more about this in our article, How to Determine that a Land Title is Genuine in Lagos State.

Document All Transactions

Record every step of the land purchase transaction. If there are agreements reached along the way, be sure to have the land seller sign the document in which they are recorded (you should sign it too). Do not assent to any conditions unless and until they are put down in writing. This should close some of the loopholes that land grabbers may want to exploit.

Secure The Property

If you have bought fallow land, it’s always a good idea to fence it. This keeps out encroachers who may want to ‘resell’ it to other people—an all too common fraud in Lagos (and elsewhere in Nigeria).

Buy From A Reputable Real Estate Company

This is probably the best guarantee you’ll ever have when it comes to dealing with the Omo Onile problem. Legitimate real estate companies will typically deal with this issue before they begin selling to the general public.

Final Words

Unfortunately, land grabbers and extortionists are a fixture in many parts of Lagos. But you don’t have to be at their mercy. It’s always better to avoid them in the first place instead of having to engage them after you’ve purchased the property. Buy land from a reputable real estate company, and you probably won’t have to worry about appeasing the ‘sons of the soil’. Featured Image Source: Amazing View Points
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This article was first published on 19th May 2021


Ikenna Nwachukwu holds a bachelor's degree in Economics from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. He loves to look at the world through multiple lenses- economic, political, religious and philosophical- and to write about what he observes in a witty, yet reflective style.

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