The Railway Police Command in Ebute-Metta, Lagos, has come under fire for allegedly evicting occupants of its barracks, in a bid to trade the same space to policemen for between N350,000 and N400,000.
Investigations by The Nigerian Xpress revealed that the Commissioner of Police, Nigerian Railway Command, CP Oyediran Oyeyemi, is alleged to be at the centre of the cruel act.
While it was gathered that a woman inspector, Deborah Menwadojiemu, scouts for fresh occupants, one Julius Oko, a Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), frames and facilitates the eviction of officers, occupying the houses.
The most recent of their shenanigans is at Jebba Police b me Barrack located at Jebba Road, Ebute Meta, a 27 rooms barracks occupied by policemen from different formations.
Three police inspectors, Jodah Matthew, Onoja Samuel and Odogwu Mathew attached to the Police Mobile Force (PMF), Lagos State Police Command, are said to be the latest victims of such forceful eviction.
According to a source, who gave details of the said act, the affected policemen were issued a two-week quit notice on March 15, to be effected on March 31.
The source revealed that these officers, including himself, had paid to get the accommodation. It was after he had moved in that he got to know that it was a kind of racket whereby the occupants were ejected from time to time to make pave way for the collection of such monies from other future victims.
The quit notice signed by the Officer-in-Charge, Provost Barrack and Housing, for Commissioner of Police (CP), Railway Police Command Headquarters, Ebute-Metta, sighted by our correspondent read: “The attention of the commissioner of police, Railway Command, has been drawn to the fact that several undertaking has been made by your wife in the provost office to maintain peace within the barrack which has failed.
“Hence, the commissioner of police has found it necessary to allocate your apartment to another officer. Your continuous staying in the said barrack is hereby illegal as it is contrary to IGP’s circular No. CH: 7700/FS/148 of January 3, 2009, dealing with residential accommodation.
“You are therefore given up till two weeks from March 12, to March 31, to vacate the room, hence you may be ejected, please.”
It was further gathered that the policemen had written a petition to the Force Provost Marshal, Force Headquarters in Abuja, making a passionate appeal against the quit notice.
In the petition made available to our correspondent, the affected officers maintained that they had been law-abiding, hence the command had no justification for their eviction.
The plea read: “We wish to appeal against quit notice issued to us at Jeba barrack. We are all serving police officers of Lagos State Command resident at Jeba police barack Ebute-Metta West, Lagos State.
“The barrack is two upstairs comprising 27 rooms occupied by police officers from different formations in the Lagos State Police Command. We have been law-abiding officers adhering to barracks rules and regulations all of a suden, we saw quit notice in our rooms.
“That we should vacate the quarters in two weeks. We don’t know the offence that we committed that warranted the quit notice. We are family men, if eventually, they eject us from the barracks where are we going to put our heads and family? This will also affect our well-being and productivity in the service.
“Sir, we are appealing to the authority to please come to our aid as a matter of urgency to intervene in this matter before the situation get out of hand. We are appealing to your good office to please help us. Look forward to hearing from you, please.”
As anticipated by the officers, the Provost Marshal, a Commissioner of Police, had responded to the distress call immediately, ordering the Railway Command to suspend action.
In response, the Provost Marshal directed that they should maintain peace and adhere to barrack rules and regulations.
However, without recourse to the intervention and signal sent to the Railway Command by the Provost Marshal, some operatives of the command were mobilised to throw the inspectors out on April 16 but met their houses under lock and key.
A final notice was subsequently issued by an Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Adebisi Lawal Balogun, in Charge of Finance and Admin, Railway Police Command, threatening to forcefully evict the affected parties.
The final quit notice read: “It has become increasingly clear that you are grossly indisciplined and you lack respect for the constituted authority. On March 11, you were served with the quit notice to vacate the Barrack on or before March 31, however, instead of you honouring the Commission of Police directive, you kept the barracks space under lock and key and make yourselves unreachable.
“You are hereby notified finally that if you fail to peacefully vacate, you will be forcefully evicted on April 17, without fail, please.”
However, our reporter was at the barracks on April 17 but the eviction did not take place.
CP Oyeyemi was contacted for comment on the said allegation and he declared it as false, saying the decision to evict the officers was purely part of police internal discipline.
“I don’t know why policemen have become so unruly. The internal matter is what they have taken to the press. Someone did something and we took action. Let them allege anything. The issue is not for the press but for the police. They can even write a petition to the IGP; they will investigate and see that none of the allegations is true. The eviction is part of internal discipline.”
The Provost Railway Command, David Ifidon, an Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP), was also reached in the matter. He revealed he did not get a directive from the Commissioner of Police to investigate or interrogate the parties before the issuance of the quit notice.
“I work based on the directives of my commissioners and as far as the provost department is concerned, the allegations did not come to my table to investigate whether they were guilty or not.
“The CP owns the Command and he takes his decision the way he wants.”