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Monday, October 28

POWA tenants tackle IGP’s wife Fatima Adamu over eviction notices

Tenants occupying the Police Officers’ Wives Association’s Phase II Shopping Complex, Ikeja, Lagos State, have taken to the streets to protest against the alleged decision of the Inspector-General of Police’s wife, Fatima Adamu, to demolish the complex.

The demolition, it was learnt, was to pave the way for the construction of an ultra-modern shopping complex.

The Friday protest followed several agitations by the tenants to get the POWA authorities to rescind the plan which had thrown the tenants and over 3,000 people benefitting from the property into panic.

It was gathered that the state POWA Chairperson, Sarah Ajani, had asked the occupants to vacate their shops to enable the contractor, Chriskelu Estate Limited, to commence the project.

One of the women who bought shops at the complex, Patricia Efejuku, urged POWA authorities to relocate the project to another place.

The retiree said, “I was a member of POWA before I retired and I was in service when the complex was built. I bought some of the shops and rented them out to people. It was one of my tenants who told me about the plan to demolish the shops. I was not even aware. We don’t understand why the IG’s wife wants to destroy a market that was built by POWA women. We were there before she came; we may have retired now, but one day, she will also leave the force.”

The Chairman of the POWA Shopping Complex Phase II, Trust Onyenekwe, said despite appealing to relevant police authorities to rethink the decision, Mrs Adamu mandated them to leave in three months.

He said, “We have 105 shops in Phase II and over 3,000 people are working in the complex. We got an eviction notice that the complex would be demolished and reconstructed in three months’ time without anyone putting our interest into consideration. We are appealing to the authorities to do something; our landladies have not issued us any notice to quit. The rent of some of us still runs till 2023.

“Initially, we received a letter from the commandant’s wife that we should vacate in a month’s time. We replied to the letter and had a meeting with the commandant, who insisted we leave.

“We proceeded to Abuja to authenticate the decision from the appropriate quarters. After meeting with the DIG and AIG in Abuja, we received another letter from the IG’s wife to vacate in three months’ time. We have decided to protest to let Nigerians know our plights.”

A copy of the letter allegedly issued by the IG’s wife to the tenants was obtained by newsmen during the protest.

In the letter, she asked the occupants to “vacate the premises within a period of three months from the receipt of this letter to enable the contractor to commence work.”

The Secretary, POWA Phase II Shopping Complex, who identified herself only as Mrs Osaii, pleaded with Mrs Adamu to consider the landladies and tenants who would be affected by the demolition.

She said, “They are serious about the demolition of this place by December; we are pleading with the IG’s wife to leave us to stay.”

A former Chairman of the complex, Jerry Mba, while lamenting that the tenants had invested much in the complex, urged the IG, Mohammed Adamu, and the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, to intervene in the matter.

“All the occupants contributed to buy a transformer to power the complex, tiled the whole floor and many more. It will be very painful to tell us to leave our investment,” he added.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Frank Mba, said he could not comment on the matter.

“I am the Force PRO and not the POWA PRO. POWA is a distinct organisation from the Nigeria Police Force, therefore, I don’t have information on the day-to-day running of its affairs. However, I will contact them to find out and get back to you,” he said.

He had yet to get back to our correspondent as of press time.

The POWA chairperson, Ajani, also declined comment, but referred newsmen to the Area F Commander, Olamitisoji Akinbamilayo, who also refused to comment.

The state Police College Public Relations Officer, Seyi Shotayo, said he was not aware of the protest.

He said, “I don’t know anything about it. I will find out when I get to the office on Monday before I can give you answers.”

However, a source said the proposed demolition was in line with the state government’s decision to enable POWA to build a befitting market.

“The Lagos State Ministry of Environment and Water Resources said the place did not befit Ikeja, so it asked POWA to rebuild it or the government would demolish it.

“The state also said POWA would pay if it demolished the complex because what it wanted was a befitting market like what you have in military market at Oshodi. Someone has been sent to invite the protesters for a meeting,” the source said.

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