Ahead of the exit of the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Mohammed Adamu, from the service early next month, a major crisis is now looming in the police force over the decision to sell the multibillion naira Police Officers Mess located at Onikan, Lagos State.
The Onikan Lagos Officers Mess, which contains about 40 chalets, two big halls, a squash court, a lawn tennis court renovated by by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), with about 40-room apartment; has served as transit camp for senior officers in the force over the years.
According to a report by Nigerian Tribune, most of the civilian staff who maintain the facility and police personnel in the Inspectorate and other ranks and file, have been forced out of Lagos through indiscriminate transfer to the northern parts of the country.
The report further revealed that several attempts by successive IGPs to sell the multibillion naira asset had been thwarted until the fresh plan allegedly by the outgoing IGP.
It added that, a private developer has recently started mobilising men and materials to the property in readiness for renovation and reconstruction work after the expulsion of the civilian staff and the senior police officers occupying the building had been asked to leave without providing them alternative accommodation.
The matter has reportedly caused a crisis between the outgoing IGP and the members of the police management team who reportedly raised concerns over the sale without following due process
Findings further revealed that some concerned senior officers in the force are not taking the matter lightly and would want the Presidency and the Police Service Commission, (PSC) to intervene and prevail on the outgoing IGP to put the act on hold in the interest of peace in the force.
According to one of such concerned officers, “this is a serious matter that the Presidency and the Police Service Commission have to intervene in. Why now? The IGP is going in a few weeks’ time.
“Several attempts made in the past under previous IGPs failed woefully and so also this fresh plot will not succeed. This illegal act is not limited to the Officers Mess at Onikan; it applies to other police choice landed properties in such areas as Ikeja, Falomo, Surulere and Apapa, amongst others.
“We will go to any lawful length to stall the illegal act. Why the sale in the first instance? This cannot and will never happen in the military. It is only in the Nigeria Police Force.
“Fresh information at our disposal revealed that the occupants of the edifice had just been made to contribute various amounts of money for the renovation of the Mess before the developer started suddenly even without the knowledge of the Force Commissioner of Works who incidentally occupies an apartment at the building.
“Findings revealed that the deal is being done secretly, but we are appealing to the prospective buyer to keep off as it will not stand the test of time after the exit of the outgoing IGP, because we are not in a banana republic where anything goes”, he said.
At the Force Headquarters in Abuja, neither the Force Public Relations (FPRO), Frank Mba, nor the Commissioner of Police, and his Deputy, CSP Aremu Adeniran, was available for comment.
A top police officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, urged the current chairman of the Police Service Commission, Alhaji Musiliu Smith (who is also a former IGP), the Oba of Lagos, Riliwanu Akiolu (a retired Assistant Inspector General of Police) as well as the Presidency to wade into the matter without further delay.