Army invades, turns Lagos hotel into operational base - Newsalert NG

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Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Army invades, turns Lagos hotel into operational base





The management of Little Palace Hotel, Ishawo, Ikorodu, Lagos State, has accused the Nigerian Army of forcefully taking over its facility.

It alleged that the manager of the hotel, Friday Imhanzuria, was arrested and detained for over two months at the Nigerian Navy Base, Apapa, for demanding the reopening of the hotel.

The counsel for the hotel, Moses Okosun, said although the incident happened sometime in July 2015, efforts by the management to seek audience with the military authorities did not yield result until February 2017, when the Army said the Lagos State Government authorised the use of the hotel.

Okosun said when he wrote the government seeking explanation, the state denied knowledge of authorisation, demanding proofs that it gave the order.

He said the hotel was considering suing the government for damages, adding that losses running into millions of naira had been incurred.

PUNCH Metro gathered that Little Palace was one of the two hotels on Tapa Street, Oke-Oko, Ishawo, a community under militant siege.

It was learnt that as the clash between security operatives and the militants intensified, many residents fled their homes, just as the two hotels in the area were shut sometime in June 2015.

When the military entered the community, the two hotels were occupied and used as military bases.

However, the owner of the second hotel met the authorities after a month and his property was vacated by soldiers.

The manager of Little Palace Hotel, Imhanzuria, said when he approached the military as well, he was arrested.

He said, “The hotel was opened in November 2014 and the owner, Mr. Ehioze Aimuan, is based in Italy. He asked me to manage the hotel. When the clashes between the militants and security agents increased and some DSS officials were killed, people fled their homes. We also shut the hotel.

“But the Nigerian Army broke the door and turned the place into a base for its soldiers. We waited for a few months, thinking they would leave, but they didn’t leave. My brother advised that I approach them.

“When I got to their barracks at Odogunyan, Ikorodu, I was arrested. I spent 24 hours at the barracks before I was transferred to the Nigerian Navy Base, Apapa. I spent over two months there. They alleged that vandals stayed in my hotel and I must produce them.

“I denied the allegation. They kept me there for over two months and later released me without any charge. I was told that my family spent over N250,000 before I became a free man.”
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Imhanzuria said while the military continued to stay in Little Palace, they returned the second hotel to the owner, who had political connections.

The hotel lawyer, Okosun, told PUNCH Metro that the soldiers, after converting the hotel into their operational base, consumed assorted wines and food stored in the facility.]

Okosun, in a letter dated February 7, 2017, and addressed to the General Officer Commanding, 81 Division, Nigerian Army, called the attention of the GOC to the invasion, saying the hotel management needed an explanation.

Okosun, in a letter to the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Lagos State, demanded investigation into the occupation of the hotel.]

The state government, in letters dated April 4 and 11, acknowledged the receipt of the March 7 letter, saying it was receiving attention.

But in a response dated April 27, 2017, one Mrs. Akhidime Monisola, a principal state counsel who wrote on behalf of the Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice, said the government could not confirm it handed over the facility to the military.

She said, “In your letter, it was alleged that the Lagos State Government authorised the use of the hotel for soldiers for the conduct of their operation, but there was no reference to the particular ministry, department or agency of the Lagos State Government involved.

“I am directed that you forward all relevant documents to sustain the allegations levelled against the state government to the Office of the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice.”

Okosun, in his reply, dated May 16, 2017, berated the government for the illegal occupation of the hotel.

He said the hotel had suffered losses in excess of N50m since the incident occurred.

He lamented that letters addressed to the Governor of the state, Akinwunmi Ambode; Speaker of the Lagos State House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa, had gone unreplied.
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