ILLEGAL OCCUPATION OF PROPERTY
Section 4 of the new Law provides that a person who is occupying a property as an encroacher and fails to leave the property on being required to do so by or on behalf of the owner of the property commits an offence and on conviction shall be liable to a fine not exceeding five million naira or five years imprisonment or both. The Law extends the meaning of property to include ‘a reference to an access to the property, whether or not any such access itself constitutes property, within the meaning of this Law’.
Also, anyone who enters or is in occupation of any property by virtue of any title derived from an encroacher; or License or right given by an encroacher shall himself be treated as an encroacher. Similarly, anyone who is on any property as an encroacher shall not cease to be an encroacher by virtue of being allowed time to leave the property.
Where such an encroacher has with him any firearms, dangerous/offensive weapon(s) on the property, he commits an offence and is liable on conviction to ten years imprisonment.
MACHINERY FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF THE LAW
In other to prevent private persons from taking laws into their hands, the law precludes any law enforcement agent, vigilante group, ethnic, cultural/traditional militia from having the right to execute the judgment of a Court in respect of any landed property except as may be provided for under the Sheriff and Civil Process Act or any other Law.
To ensure that the provisions of the Law is not abused, the Law prohibits frivolous and unwarranted petitions to the Law Enforcement Agency arising from the provisions of the Law knowing such claims contained in the petition to be false. The law therefore requires that a petition in respect of landed property shall be accompanied by a sworn declaration by a petitioner.
The Law establishes a task force to enforce the provisions of the Law and vests in it the power to arrest in pursuance of the law alongside any other Law Enforcement Unit/Agency in the State, while jurisdiction in respect of offences under the Law is granted to the Special Offences Court and other courts.
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