Traders at the Police Officers Wives Association shopping complex in Computer Village, Ikeja, Lagos have sought the intervention of the State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Inspector General of Police, Kayode Egbetokun, following an alleged plan to demolish the POWA Plaza in less than 24 hours.
The traders, who deal in computer and information technology gadgets at Phases I and II of the complex, lamented that about 1,000 occupants would lose their livelihood if the plaza was demolished.
They claimed that some officials of the Lagos State Government with armed policemen allegedly stormed the plaza yesterday afternoon, to give them a 24-hour deadline to vacate the over 300 shops in the POWA complex.
When our correspondent visited the plaza today, 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.
Some of the traders were seen hurriedly moving out their goods from the shops in an attempt to meet up with the 24-hour deadline.
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 government came to the plaza yesterday to paste the vacation notice.
He stressed that the complex was feeding thousands of families, including police officers.
He appealed to the governor and IG to stop the demolition and fish out those behind the illegality for prosecution.
He added, “We are appealing to him to help us. We are law-abiding traders trying to make out 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 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.
“Unlike 2019, when we got a notice of demolition, now we were only told to move out. We are hearing from the grapevine that the developer and others wanted to pull the building down unaware and vandalise our various goods worth billions of naira.”
The 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.
Eze expressed sadness over the proposed demolition, urging the government and IG to come to the aid of the affected traders.
He added, “We demand that they should leave here alone because most of the things they are fabricating about this place, we don’t know. Our letters have gone all over but we have not gotten any positive response.
“Most of their responses are that they are not interested in demolishing here, but some set of people within the POWA are responsible.
“They should do the right thing, they should let us remain. They can go and develop other places.”
It was earlier reports that the traders had earlier embarked on a protest opposing the alleged plan by the Police Wives Association to demolish the plaza.
The chairman, Computer Dealer Association, Tayo Shittu, during the protest claimed that the traders pay between N300,000 and N400,000 yearly, 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.
When contacted, the Public Relations Officer of the Lagos Taskforce, Raheem Gbadeyanka, asked our correspondent to send the questions.
He has not responded to the message at the time of filing this report.