The Nigeria Police Force has said it will go ahead with the plan to demolish the shopping complex belonging to the Police Officers Wives Association (POWA) in Ikeja, Lagos State, despite what it described as “frivolous claims, unsubstantiated protests, and media blackmail” by the affected traders.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, said in a statement on Saturday that the NPF had been inundated with inquiries concerning the planned demolition of the POWA Shopping Complex in Ikeja.
Adejobi said, “It has become imperative to properly establish that the complex, a property of the Nigeria Police Officer’s Wives Association, which is officially allocated to wives of police officers and their relatives, has been scheduled for demolition.
“This is to enable the Force to commence immediate construction of a modern shopping complex on the same land.”
According to Adejobi, the decision to demolish and reconstruct the complex was “predicated on the fact that professional opinion indicates that the structure as it is constitutes a looming environmental hazard.”
The FPRO added that the “site is prone to flooding and may be susceptible to sudden collapse, hence the need for immediate landscaping and reconstruction.”
The planned demolition and reconstruction, he said, will be in phases, adding that it is in good faith for the betterment of all concerned.
“All necessary legal requirements have been duly met. The current occupants of the complex have been given more than enough notice of the demolition to enable their evacuation from the facility in good time, and necessary steps have been taken to temporarily accommodate them within the same complex while the reconstruction lasts.
“Equally, the relevant Lagos State Government agency, according to its expert advice, has been approached, required help sought, and necessary approvals for demolition obtained,” he stated.
Adejobi warned the traders against what he called frivolous claims, unsubstantiated protests, and media blackmail during the demolition exercise.
“While the demolition will proceed as planned, Nigerians are hereby urged to disregard frivolous claims, unsubstantiated protests, and media blackmail alleging wrongdoing and illegality on the part of the Force or the POWA.
“The Police and its affiliates, like the POWA, will always be committed to better welfare and standards of living for their personnel and their families,” he added.
The traders at the POWA Complex in Computer Village, Ikeja, sought the intervention of the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, on Friday, following a plan to demolish the complex in less than 24 hours.
The traders at Phases I and II of the complex lamented that about 1,000 occupants would lose their livelihood if the plaza was demolished.
A former chairman of the Computer Dealers Association, Trust Tobechukwu, said a developer identified as Achieving Greatness Properties sent a letter informing them to leave the complex as demolition would take place.
Tobechukwu explained that the case was taken to court, and they got a restraining order stopping the planned demolition.
According to him, despite the court order, some people who claimed to be officials of the Lagos State Government came to the plaza on Thursday to paste the vacation notice.
“We are appealing to him to help us. We are law-abiding traders trying to make a living. If we are pushed out of the market, thousands of us will lose our means of livelihood, and those who depend on us will also suffer.
“The plaza is owned by the widows of former police officers and serving officers. In 2019, the complex was marked for demolition, and when we inquired from Abuja, we were told that a developer who was desperate to have access to the complex was the one making an effort to chase us out of the complex,” Tobechukwu said.
In his remarks, Trustee Chairman of the Computer Dealers Association, Mark Eze, said there are 300 shops in the complex, with over 1,000 traders paying rent for more than 20 years.
The traders had, on 19th of December, embarked on a protest, opposing the alleged plan by POWA to demolish the complex.
The chairman of the Computer Dealer Association, Tayo Shittu, claimed during the protest that the traders pay between N300,000 and N400,000 a year, alleging that the Police Wives Association wanted to destroy the shops out of selfish interest.
Shittu added that when they reached out to POWA, the association denied knowing anything about the demolition.