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The Antics of Omo Onile – Site Miscreants and How to Beat Them
You’ve just bought your land, paid site miscreants or nuisance through your contact man or agent and now you are ready to commence building, you got to your site and suddenly, people started appearing intermittently all claiming to be “Omo Onile” and ready to extort your life savings from you. What will you do?
I guess you’ve been paying and you might still keep paying until you empower yourself with this information. After settling them, work commences, setting out and digging starts, but after an hour of work, three old men of over 70 years old, yes I mean seventy years old came to the land and starts scattering your materials on site to lay claims on the site one of them lying to you that the cassava you cut on that land belongs to him, and he is ready to take you to the police station bragging to you that you are going to pay him millions for this, telling you that this is what he uses in feeding and sending his children to school.
You asked them what the problem really is, they are not ready to tell you anything, not ready to compromise and you saw them carrying the cassava stem away running and breathing heavily and you thought the case might be beyond money; everything seems to confuse you, you are at a dilemma on what to do next, you call your contact man frantically no response or he keeps promising to come to the site but he is far away and too busy attending to the problems of other sites. Especially when he has collected money from you.
I want to state categorically that this happened to me in “Ogun State Nigeria” is not a made up story, so read on. Yes, what is your experience? These are mine
(1) They are illegitimately legitimate, The government of the day does not recognize these social misfits but they don’t go against them either even when they unwillingly extort money from hapless Citizens. To them they believe they are in a legitimate business backed indirectly by the quietness of government of the day, because nobody is fighting them back.
(2) They see you as someone coming to take their inherited land and by the time you are through with your building, you will simply lock your gate against them and write beware of dog on your gate as the usual saying. So they don’t have any pity for you.
(3) They believe they have nothing to loose because you are the one with the money and you are desperate to see that your building is up, so that you won’t have to convert money on you into other uses. This is one of their strength, they know you are desperate.
(4) They also know you don’t want trouble and you are intimidated by their incessant harassment. These and many more are what the Omo Oniles have going for them and they are taking advantage of people for maximum exploitation.
What you must do and not do: Don’t show them that you have so much money to throw around because the more you spend, the more they are going to ask for. You’ve been given them stipends before, and now you’ve finally made up your mind to start something on your land, this does not mean they aren’t going to ask you for more money.
No matter what you give, it will never be enough so if you are afraid of confrontation, I’ll advise you look for someone that can stand in for you for the main time. They wins by psychology, if you play the game well with them, you’ll laugh best. Their intention is to suck you dry by wearing you out, if I were you I will be ready for this. Try to find out among landlord in your area how much did it take them to get them off their back, find the average and use it to determine what you are going to give out.
I will advice whatever your contact man is asking for to settle them, give him half of the money, take the other half as what you will use to settle others that will come to trouble you on site. Don’t however pay a dime, but after so much haggling,and you will find out a token will save you a lot of stress.
Don’t give anybody large sum of money to settle Omo Onile, Estate agent or land speculators, the moment your contact man collects money from you expect him to remove 60% of that money for himself. This is the same money you could have used to settle himself and other that will come. Though you need someone to always point or direct whoever is disturbing you, but this usually is not enough. Intimidation is by far their greatest weapon, you may have as much as 6 groups laying claims to the land and coming at different time of the day to collect money from you.
If you give in to intimidation or they discover an element of fear in you then you are done for.
A case is one 2 bedroom flat I was about to raise, yes after paying to our contact man, and he himself assuring us that nobody will come to disturb us, people started showing on site in drove at one time and another, fortunately the owner was not around so I had to face the heat by myself. Imagine you are on a site 20 hefty looking young and old men smoking marijuana and puffing it to your face challenging you angrily and few of them even making comment of beating you up, if you are not ready to cooperate with them. So, facing the kind of situation what will you do? Run? If you do, you are finished, you won’t have peace on that site again and that is what they expect you to do by putting fear in your mind. My advice don’t run talk with them not too gently and make them to realize the owner is coming to pay.
As I said earlier, the more you pay, the more you’re still going to pay that is the logic, until when you get angry and stop paying them, they won’t relent. Your contact man will always pose as someone working for your interest but not until he leaves the site to inform the other Omo Onile about activity going on in your site.
Another one is to use guerrilla method. If you have a very small project like 2 bedroom flat there are some activities you may involve around 5 pm, 5 am – 7 am and night in the evening especially when your artisans (workmen) are staying around. This may give you the opportunity to be able to avoid some of them because that is their job, that is what they leave on they can not stop coming until everybody is settled one way or the other. I have used this tactic before.
Going straight to meet the Baale or king of the land which will eventually cost you much, but will save you from incessant harassment is also a good method of reducing the nuisance.
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