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Tuesday, 4 April 2017

The Omo-Onile Issue... Twisting My Arm.

If you've lived in Lagos then you've probably heard of Omo-onile. The children of the land or whatever...

As you can see from the comments I found online (Nairaland), dragging issues with these people would be a waste of time, potentially dangerous and an exercise in futility. 

I just rounded up a meeting with a number of them, where I had to part with about 100k cash, the second time I would be putting my hard earned cash in their hands just this year alone. 

Someone might say, but Thelma, aren't you a lawyer, doesn't the property belong to you people? Don't you have the title documents? 

Yes, yes and yes. 

Which makes it even more painful. 

It's disconcerting; the thought that before you can make improvements on your own property, they descend on you like vultures if you haven't settled them beforehand. For instance, sometime last year when I all needed done was some wood work outside the building, they came and scattered the job, broke the work that had already been done, seized equipments and the workers all ran for their lives and never returned. 

Now, I need to do some more work out there (as I'm trying to rebrand, renovate and restructure Chidoz) and they'd already warned. This work was to start in January, I'd already learnt my lessons so I went to "settle" the family with a mediator we've known for years (it's imperative to have an inside person when you have dealings with these people). However two weeks later I was approached and informed that the family I settled is no longer the ruling family, that leadership had shifted so I had very well dashed those people the money and need to find money to settle the new ruling family, if I wanted to proceed with the work. 

Dear baby Jesus. 

After several meetings with several children of the land, it was decided I pay xxx to Mr xxx. Someone in his camp actually informed me to my face that they do not even care whether we bought this property or that we have the documents, if they want to sell the property to someone else 'today today' they will do so and there's nothing I can do about it. He said I can go to court if I want but we will be in court for the next 30 years. 

I don't know which was more infuriating, that he made this unnessecary subtle threat or that he did so smiling congenially at me...

In any case, work should start soon and I'm grateful to God for everything, I really truly am.  

I'm just not happy that my hand is being twisted this way. Especially when I know that I owe nobody shishi to work on property that's legally ours, paid for in full, and that in a sane country such a thing could never happen. 

But unfortunately the reality is that if these sons of the land are not appeased, nothing gets done. Nobody would even agree to come and work on your property because they know they could get hurt in the process. 

Oh, yes, court. I should go to court, right? In fact, just in 2016 this a bill was passed in Lagos state to criminalize this Omonile ish. But court is their second home. These Omoniles are usually on first name bases with judges and lawyers. As in, they're prepared for the matter. They have their team of lawyers on standby and are ever ready to go to court to slug things out with you in the courtroom. And they know that because of our poor judicial system cases could pend for decades...

Oh well, I've been assured by a "Prince" of the family that I have the go ahead. They have informed their boys that we are "cool" and should not "come near our dwelling". Work starts now but I'm pissed AF! This is arm-twisting on a whole other level. 

I asked the prince to assure me that I wouldn't have this problem the next time I need to paint the building or dig a borehole or fix a fence. He smiled and said "of course not". 

But I know better...



  1. Welcome to Lagos.
    Welcome to Nigeria.


  2. The mistake many make is thinking that this omo-onile issue is one that could be solved by the courts. We forget the underlying cause of this issue that points to the fact that lots of the youth are unemployed and need to earn a living whichever way possible - through hook or crook.

    The government knows this and hence can't take the moral stand to ensure that this menace be curbed. There are no jobs for this set of people, and most importantly, no hope for them. I reckon anyone would rather have these guys as omo-oniles and not armed robbers - essentially, the solution the government provides.

    That said, my mum has had a number of funny experiences with omo-oniles. On one occasion, she was extorted by one omo-onile that was once her student and they both knew themselves. On another occasion, after settling one group of omo-oniles, another elderly group of boys came around and their excuse was that the earlier group was omo-onile and they are baba-onile. A soldier neighbor who had threatened brimstone to disturbing omo-oniles when he was developing his residence which he had lived in for years had to calm down when he reasoned that he can't always guarantee the safety of his family and the omo-oniles can wreak havoc at anytime.

    Many of the issues we complain about and proffer well-meaningful (but unsustainable) solutions are actually symptoms of a broken system. We should be striving to fix the fundamentals and issues like this would take care of themselves. Chrisyinks

    PS: apologies for any errors

    1. Dear Chris, the govt has absolutely nothing to do with this, even if shell offers those boys a job, they ll rather do the touting than a proper job, the problem is the orientation and our culture, if the orientation of place of birth is replaced with state of origin, then there is hope for the future, come to ph and see Ikwerre boys in action.

    2. To the contrary, I strongly believe it would be incorrect to state that the government has absolutely nothing to do with this. I doubt replacing place of birth with state of origin would yield a well-grounded solution.

      Statistics show that there isn't much decent economic opportunities (jobs or viable businesses) out there for these guys. Now add that with years of negative environmental conditioning (that hardwork and diligence doesn't pay) on all sides, then you'd come up with a perfect recipe that makes certain a menace as 'omo-onile' an acceptable habit for these group of guys.

      I'd agree that the orientation and culture are causes, but again how do you solve these causes without involving government?

      On a personal note, I've interacted with some of these guys, and know a few because we went to the same school and sat down for the same classes. I'd remark that not many sit down, and decide that their life is fulfilled in being a menace to others.....environment conditions them to do so. And much of the flaws in the environment inducing this behavior is because the government is essentially failing in its duties. Chrisyinks

  3. A guy on my street had same issue all he did was invite those wicked Nigerian Armies, I swear we didn't see them Omo oniles till he finished renovating....

    1. It won'r end there, Will armies remain there for ever. These people are a menace.


  4. This is really disheartening!!!
    However, I think we should keep speaking out and hope the government puts an end to it because if this isn't curbed, it most likely will go on for decades.
    Kpele Tee, i must say i admire your tenacity as regards to Chidoz, Jisike Nnenne!!!

  5. Useless people.
    A Girl


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