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General News of Friday, 7 January 2022


Demolition of Rivers police barracks’ illegal structures starts, hundreds stranded

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More than 100 families staying in various police barracks in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, have been rendered homeless after the demolition of illegal structures there.

According to some of the stranded residents, they woke up early on Wednesday, January 5, 2022, to see heavily armed policemen and other men with tools ready for the demolition.

They added that those who came for the demolition disclosed that they were sent by the Inspector-General of Police to carry out the act.

One of the displaced residents, Akawabala Alafa, stated that the police were paid before the occupants could build on the land over 15 years ago.

“In November last year, a senior police officer came and told us that we were living on police land. But they collect money from us yearly. They even collected N5,000 last month.

“Yesterday (Wednesday) around 7 am, policemen and some boys came with instruments and started demolishing the place without notice. We don’t have anywhere to go.

“Last night, I sent my family out, while I managed somewhere. All my belongings and the drugs I sell have been destroyed. If they say it is their land, let them compensate us, because we have been paying to stay here.”

Similarly, a security guard, Akpan John, said, “We pay N35,000 yearly to stay here. See what they have done now.

“There was no notice; now, my family is stranded. Look at all my things outside. Where will I go now?”

Another displaced resident, Amadi Henry, said, “It was painful that we were not even informed. They just said it was an order from the IG. The people the police came with were even ready to fight if we didn’t cooperate.”

The evicted people said the fierce-looking men that carried out the demolition used hammers, axes and other implements, even as our correspondent observed that most of the families stood in the open.

Some of them tried to pick what they could gather from the rubble, while others were seen making frantic telephone calls when our correspondent visited the scene on Thursday.

Meanwhile, some policemen, who were original occupants of the barracks opposite the demolished structures watched helplessly as the structures fell to the ground.

Efforts to reach the acting state Police Public Relations Officer, Grace Iringe-Koko, proved abortive as she did not take several calls put across to her.

Also, she had yet to reply to a text message sent to her mobile telephone by our correspondent as of the time of filing this report.

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