Prompt intervention from the authorities in Abuja reportedly prevented what could have turned out to be a violent clash between men of the Department of State Services (DSS) and the Ports Police over the control of the house formerly occupied by a former Director General of the DSS, Colonel Kayode Are (retd).
The house, located at 50, Alexander Avenue, Ikoyi, Lagos, had housed Colonel Are until he was reportedly ejected from there last year.
The clash, however, occurred as officials of the Ports Police arrived at the compound last week in a bid to take over the property.
The DSS officer attached to the building was said to have resisted the takeover bid, but crisis was said to have been averted when calls from higher authorities in Abuja asked the DSS men to yield ground to the Port Police.
The development reportedly ignited some grumbling as to the circumstances leading to the decision to cede the official quarters of the Service to the NPA.
A Sunday Tribune source said: “Last week, a serious clash almost occurred at the premises as the DSS operatives on guard at the building refused to vacate the building for the ports policemen that were reportedly sent to take over the protection of the house, preparatory to its renovation and furnishing for the new Managing Director of NPA, Miss Hadiza Yusuf.
“The standoff lasted for a few hours but tension was doused after an instruction from Abuja ordered the DSS operatives to vacate the premises and hand over to the Ports Police.”
Operatives of the DSS, had last December reportedly ejected Colonel Are from the house. He had lived in the house for close to five years as part of the privileges usually extended to former directors-general.
It was learnt that retired directors general of the service are not allowed such statutory privileges and that only Are and the immediate past DG, Ita Ekpeyong, who is said to occupy a private rented apartment in Abuja, are the exceptions.
An eyewitness, who described himself as an occupant in the area, asked why the DSS should eject one of its own only to transfer the building to an organisation that is not connected to its work.
The source, who narrated the history of the building, further asked: “What is even the correlation between the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Department of State Services?
“What of the house that the immediate past managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority lived?
“We don’t understand how a subvention-dependent organisation would donate its official quarters to a revenue-generating agency.”
Though Are claimed to have secured a court order to prolong his stay in the building, the DSS evicted him after issuing him an ultimatum.
Meanwhile, NPA has stated that Colonel Are has no case following his eviction from the property.
This was even as the said property had been taken over by the new Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Usman.
Reacting to enquiries by the Sunday Tribune, NPA’s imagemaker, Captain Ihenacho Ebubuegou, explained that since the said property was taken from a former government official and given to a serving government official, then there is no case.
According to him, “I will still have to get management’s take on this.
“However, for me, there is no cause for alarm since the former occupant is no longer in service and the property was never sold to him.
“However, as I said earlier, I will still have to get management’s views on this. What I have told you is just my own perception of the whole issue.”
The hours stand-off was only resolved after words from Abuja ordered the Service operatives to vacate the premises and handover to the Ports’ police.