How Police Demolished Over 300 Shops At Computer Village on New Year’s Day
Traders at the Police Officers’ Wives Association Shopping Complex in the Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos, assessed their damages after the complex was demolished on Sunday.
PUNCH Metro reported that the demolition occurred in the early hours of Sunday, with armed security personnel overseeing the operation.
Tayo Shittu, the Chairman of the Computer Dealer Association in Computer Village, stated that the demolition commenced at approximately 12 a.m.
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.”
Emeka, a shop owner interviewed by PUNCH Metro, revealed that traders suffered significant losses as their valuable goods were destroyed during 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.”
Last week, traders at the Computer Village complex in Phases I and II sought the intervention of the state governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun.
This followed rumors of plans to demolish the POWA Plaza, where they conduct business in computer and information technology gadgets. The traders expressed concern that approximately 1,000 people would lose their livelihoods if the plaza were demolished.
According to the traders, officials of the Lagos State Government, accompanied by armed policemen, allegedly stormed the plaza on Thursday afternoon.
They claimed that the officials gave them a 24-hour deadline to vacate the over 300 shops in the POWA complex.
A visit to the plaza on Friday confirmed that a vacation order had been prominently posted at the main gate, bearing the inscription ‘Lagos State Task Force, Governor’s Office,’ indicating the traders were expected to vacate within 24 hours.
In response, the Lagos State Government, through its official Twitter handle @followlasg, released a statement on Sunday evening denying involvement in the demolition at Computer Village.
The statement, signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Gbenga Omotoso, clarified that the structure belonged to the Police Officers Wives Association, which had ordered its demolition.
The Chief Press Secretary to Governor Sanwo-Olu, Gboyega Akosile, could not be reached for comments on Sunday.
The spokesperson for the Lagos State Task Force, Raheem Gbadeyanka, stated that he did not have the facts of the incident.
The Force Public Relations Officer, Muyiwa Adejobi, did not respond to calls or messages.
However, Adejobi had previously emphasized that the demolition of the building was inevitable, as the land was officially allocated to the Nigeria Police Officers’ Wives Association for the construction of a modern shopping complex.