Traders at the Police Officers’ Wives Association Shopping Complex in the Computer Village, Ikeja area of Lagos counted their losses following the demolition of the complex on Sunday.
The demolition took place in the early hours of Sunday with armed security operatives supervising the operation, according to a report by The PUNCH.
The Chairman, Computer Dealer Association, in Computer Village, Tayo Shittu, said the demolition began around 12 am.
Shittu said, “Around 12 am, I was called that about 300 policemen had stormed our plaza with up to three bulldozers that they were bringing down our plaza. The whole plaza, Phase 1 and 2, has been brought down. We are talking of about 300 shops, more than 1000 occupants. In some shops, we have two, three or five people.
“We are not feeling good at all. A lot of our members have travelled for the Christmas holidays. If at all it was supposed to happen, there must be a roundtable discussion. They just came suddenly and brought everything down.”
A shop owner, identified simply as Emeka, who also spoke with PUNCH Metro, said traders lost valuable goods to the demolition.
Emeka said, “Goods including air conditioning systems, inverters, solar panels, burglary, and laptops were taken away. They used hammers to break in and collected valuables before they started breaking. As we moved around here, we could not find some of the things we left. Two months ago, the Lagos State Government came here and collected taxes from all of us but the appreciation they could show us for electing them and paying our taxes is to come and demolish our businesses. Many people working under us are out of jobs. They are sending another set of Lagosians to the IDP camps.”
“We came here by 7:30 am and they were still here, surrounding the area from under the bridge.”
Another shop owner, Omobayo Azeez, said, “Around 12 am on Sunday, over 200 heavily armed police officers stormed the place. According to eyewitnesses, they blocked all entrances to the place and sent away anyone around.”
Traders at the complex in Computer Village had last week sought the intervention of the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, following rumoured plans to demolish the POWA Plaza.
The traders, who deal in computer and information technology gadgets at the Phases I and II of the complex, lamented that about 1,000 occupants would lose their means of livelihood if the plaza was demolished.
They claimed that some officials of the Lagos State Government with armed policemen allegedly stormed the plaza on Thursday afternoon, to give them a 24-hour deadline to vacate the over 300 shops in the POWA complex.
When our correspondent visited the plaza on Friday, it was observed that the vacation order was boldly pasted at the main gate of the POWA complex.
The vacation order with the inscription ‘Lagos State Task Force, Governor’s Office’ indicated that the traders were expected to vacate the plaza within 24 hours.
The Lagos State Government in a statement on its official X handle, @followlasg, on Sunday evening, said the government “has nothing to do with the demolition at the Computer Village in Ikeja. The structure is owned by the Police Officers Wives Association, which ordered its demolition.”
The statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, further read, “Those circulating the fake news that Lagos State Government is demolishing Computer Village are opportunistic ethnic chauvinists who will always relish in vacuous propaganda that can fuel their fiendish mission; they will always fail in dividing Lagosians.”
Gboyega Akosile, the Chief Press Secretary to Governor Sanwo-Olu, could not be reached for comments on Sunday as his line was busy and a text message sent to him was not responded to.
The spokesperson for the Lagos State Task Force, Raheem Gbadeyanka, when contacted, said he did not have the facts of the incident yet.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, did not also take his calls nor respond to messages sent to him.
However, Adejobi had in a Saturday statement said there was no going back in the demolition of the building.
Adejobi said, “It has become imperative to properly establish that the complex, a property of the Nigeria Police Officers’ 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.”