No fewer than 721 policemen and their families residing in the barracks at the Central Police Station, CPS, and Police Area Command, Onitsha have been rendered homeless following the demolition of their buildings and shops by the Anambra State police command.
While the affected policemen accused the state police command of being insensitive, the Commissioner of Police in the state, Mr. Balla Nasarawa who confirmed the development described them as illegal occupants.
At the barrack, Thursday, there was confusion as many stranded policemen were seen discussing in clusters while some of them were removing their belongings to safety.
Speaking with reporters in Onitsha, one of the victims who is an Inspector (names withheld) said he has been living in the barracks for the past 21 years, adding that he had consistently been paying rent to the police authority and described the statement credited to the CP as untrue.
He said: “It was yesterday morning (Wednesday) that we saw to our greatest surprise, a quit notice pasted on our doors signed by the Officer in Charge of Provost, ordering us to vacate our houses and that our wives should vacate their shops within 48 hours, without prior notice to that effect.
“Before now, we had no problem with anybody as we have been paying our rents to the relevant police authority and even some of us have just signed what we call accommodation money last January and our money is being deducted from our salaries.
To just wake up and kick us out of our homes is an act of wickedness.
Also speaking on behalf of Police Officers Wives Association, POWA, shop owners association, Mrs. Maria Iguh lamented that the on going demolition of their shops was being done in bad faith and called on President Goodluck Jonathan to come to their aid.
According to her, they bought the shops from POWA, adding that they have remained and kept their own part of the bargain to pay tenancy to the police authority and expressed surprise at the shortness of time given to them to vacate their shops.
“We bought these shops from POWA and since then we have been paying to the police for what they called security fee and we obeyed and painted our shops in police colour. Then this morning, we saw quit notice ordering us to vacate within 48 hours. We are in trouble because some of us have lost shelter and their shops and our children will soon resume school and we don’t have any other place to go,” she said.
She called on President Jonathan, Inspector General of Police and Police Service Commission to look into the matter so as to save them from the trouble of losing their houses and source of livelihood which they legally acquired.