Controversy sparks as Lagos Police moves forward with POWA complex demolition

powa-tenants protesting against police detruction of POWA

The Nigeria Police Force has confirmed its decision to proceed with the demolition of the Police Officers Wives Association (POWA) shopping complex in Ikeja, Lagos State. 

Despite objections from affected traders, whom the police claim have resorted to "frivolous claims, unsubstantiated protests, and media blackmail."

According to the Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, the police have been flooded with inquiries regarding the planned demolition. Adejobi clarified that the complex, belonging to the Nigeria Police Officer's Wives Association, is officially allocated to police officers' wives and their relatives. The demolition is intended to pave the way for the construction of a modern shopping complex on the same land.

The decision to demolish and rebuild the structure is based on professional opinion, which suggests that the current structure poses an environmental hazard. Adejobi explained that the site is prone to flooding and potential collapse, necessitating immediate reconstruction and landscaping.

The demolition and reconstruction will be carried out in phases, with the goal of improving the overall situation. Adejobi assured that all legal requirements had been met and the current occupants of the complex had been given sufficient notice to vacate. Temporary accommodations within the same complex have been arranged during the reconstruction period.

Adejobi cautioned traders against making baseless claims, engaging in protests without evidence, or resorting to media blackmail during the demolition. He emphasized that the police and its affiliates, including POWA, are committed to improving the welfare and standards of living for their personnel and families.

Traders at Phases I and II of the POWA Complex in Computer Village, Ikeja, have sought intervention from Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu and Inspector General of Police Kayode Egbetokun after being informed of the plan to demolish the complex within 24 hours. 

The traders, totaling around 1,000 occupants, expressed concerns about the loss of their livelihoods.

Trust Tobechukwu, a former chairman of the Computer Dealers Association, revealed that Achieving Greatness Properties, a developer, sent a letter notifying them of the demolition. Tobechukwu explained that they sought legal action and obtained a restraining order to halt the destruction. 

However, individuals claiming to be officials from the Lagos State Government defied the court order and posted vacation notices at the plaza.

Mark Eze, the Trustee Chairman of the Computer Dealers Association, shared that the complex houses 300 shops with over 1,000 traders who have been renting their spaces for more than 20 years.

The traders had previously staged a protest on December 19, opposing the alleged plan by POWA to demolish the complex. During the demonstration, Tayo Shittu, the chairman of the Computer Dealer Association, accused POWA of seeking to destroy the shops for personal gain. Shittu claimed that traders paid between N300,000 and N400,000 in annual rent and that POWA had denied any knowledge of the demolition when contacted.

Source: The PUNCH

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