Why are omoniles such a problem in Lagos? – Ella Temisan

Why are omoniles such a problem in Lagos? – Ella Temisan



Among the top five kinds of people to avoid when you live in Lagos must be house agents; policemen, yellow taxi drivers, LASTMA officials and OMONILES.


For God’s sake, avoid anything to do with these Omoniles as much as you can. Those people are among some of the worst sets of people I’ve ever seen.


It’s not that they are wicked, heartless or outrightly evil. It’s the things they do that are like that. How do you claim ownership to areas of land, land that the government says is theirs; sell this land to people for big money and still charge your buyers more money if they want to build on it?


At first, it sounds like they just want you to pay homage to them. You know, as indigenes of the area. It feels like they want you to show appreciation to them for letting a piece of their heritage go. But after you hear them out, you discover that you’re trapped in a well-orchestrated money exploitation scheme.

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My close friend, I’ll call him Matthew, recently bought a half plot of land at Awoyaya. It is an area along Lekki-Epe Expressway in Lagos. Those areas we think will become the next Lekki after the real Lekki becomes too saturated and polluted for the Lagos elite.


I was very excited at the news because it meant growth. My friend is a landlord. Who no like beta thing? Matthew had thought he’d just buy the property as an investment. Then he started seeing small money. So, he decided to build a small house. Imagine my joy and surprise when he asked me to join him for a meeting with the head of the landowner’s family.


Why are omoniles such a problem in Lagos? - Ella Temisan


See me dressed to impress and ready to shine teeth with these people. I was going to be the very picture of moral support. Had I known! The man didn’t waste time with small talk. He simply told Matthew to pay N800k for ‘owo foundation’ and N300k each to the signatories for the family deed. Land that my friend bought for 6.5m.


This man was still calling money with so much confidence. All our smiles faded and we entered begging mode. The man knew he had Matthew in a chokehold by this annoying rite of house ownership.


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We begged so much that I started to cry. It felt horrible! Matthew is a young man, working legitimately to take care of himself, his mom, and siblings. He doesn’t have money falling from a tree in his backyard. And even if he did, what did these people do to earn the right to demand such an outrageous sum?


What is in the title “omonile” that gives these people the right to act as demi-gods? That you must settle, pour libations, plead with, and satisfy before moving ahead with your building plans? The worst part is that you can’t challenge them because somehow, they are the law too.


I just don’t get it!


Lagos is a very annoying place to live in at times.

About The Author

Osigweh Lilian Oluchi is a graduate of the University of Lagos where she obtained a B.A (Hons) in English, Masters in Public and International affairs (MPIA). Currently works with 1stnews as a Database Manager / Writer. [email protected]

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