Posted by By Jude Njoku & Emma Nnadozie on
DESPITE a subsisting court order, the Federal Government yesterday made good its threat to forcefully evict residents of Bar-beach Towers in the Victoria Island area of Lagos.
LAGOS—DESPITE a subsisting court order, the Federal Government yesterday made good its threat to forcefully evict residents of Bar-beach Towers in the Victoria Island area of Lagos. A combined team of stern looking and gun trotting soldiers and mobile policemen numbering over 50 stormed the high-rise building around 4 am ordering the occupants to pack out peacefully or have their belonging thrown down from the building.
Housing and Urban Development Minister, Dr Olusegun Mimiko had three weeks ago at the handing over of a block of flats at the Awolowo Road Towers, Ikoyi to Union Homes Savings and Loans Ltd, announced that the estate has been allocated to the Nigerian Army as its barracks. The Minister directed the military authorities to take steps to secure vacant accommodation of the three blocks from the resident civil servants.
Yesterday’s eviction was carried out by a team allegedly led by one Col Mustapha. The fierce looking soldiers and their mobile police counterparts who cordoned off all roads leading to the estate frisked all those passing through the area. The motorcyclist who conveyed our reporter to the estate was made to sit on the floor for daring to come near the premises.
Narrating their ordeal to newsmen, the Secretary of Bar-Beach Towers Residents Association, Mrs Ugo Udochu alleged that the soldiers invaded the estate around 4am when most of the occupants were still asleep.
“They broke down the estate gate to gain entrance and immediately started breaking the doors of the various flats, shouting park out now or we will throw your things out. We remained indoors. They relaxed a bit but started off again around 7am. This time, they now came in and started throwing our belongings down from upstairs. It was at this juncture that we started parking our delicate items out of the building”.
Mrs Udochu who works with the Nigerian Institute of Oceanography and Marine Research alleged that the soldiers did not break into the flats occupied by soldiers and policemen. “They refused to allow any of us to leave the estate except you are carrying your property out. They also refused people entrance into the estate except those with vehicles to pack their property. But the military residents were not touched. They just dressed up and went to work”, she said.
Mrs Udochu lamented that the eviction was carried out in defiance of a Lagos High court order of December 2, 2005 stopping the Government from going ahead with the plan to eject the residents. According to her, residents of the estate had registered a company -Bar-beach Towers Neighbourhood Company Ltd, which submitted a bid to buy the property after getting the necessary financial back-up from some reputable financial institutions. The bid was rejected and the Government went ahead to allocate the Towers to the Military.
On the claim that they (residents) were given N250,000 to vacate the accommodation and secure for themselves alternative houses elsewhere, Mrs Udochu said no money has been paid to residents of the Towers.
When contacted for comments on the development, the Acting Commissioner of police, Lagos State, Mr. John Haruna told Vanguard, “My men were there to provide security for the people carrying out government orders and even for those people being evicted so that they will relocate safely. I would like to commend the matured manner in which the residents responded to the whole exercise.”
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