Mary and her kids
The grave of Sergeant George Ebiega of the Police College, Ikeja, Lagos State, was still fresh when the police authorities ordered his wife of 10 years, Mary, out of the barracks.
PUNCH Metro learnt that the mother of three had been given till the weekend to vacate their room and parlour apartment.
Our correspondent gathered that 40-year-old George took ill for about a week and was taken to a hospital in the Ikeja area, where he died in late August.
His remains were subsequently taken to his hometown in Benue State and interred.
Upon the wife’s return after the burial in September, George’s immediate boss was reported to have given the family two years to find another accommodation, including a new school for the children.
However, one Dominic, a policeman, came knocking a few days later, saying he had been allotted the apartment.
After learning that the family had two more years to spend in it, he was said to have left without any incident.
On Tuesday, things took a dramatic turn when Mary was told that some personnel from the Police House and Barracks Department were looking for her.
The 31-year-old, who spoke to PUNCH Metro while fighting back tears, said when she got to the department, she was told to vacate the apartment by the weekend.
She stated, “I explained to them that I was given two years, but they said there was nothing that they could do about it. Later, we went to meet the commandant in his office.
“The commandant said the three months I had stayed after my husband’s death was enough and since my husband was already deceased, that was the end and work must continue. He said I should leave by the weekend.”
The widow lamented that aside from not receiving the arrears of her husband’s salaries since his death, she had no money to rent an apartment.
She noted that her job as a cleaner could not fetch her enough money to rent another apartment at such a short notice.
PUNCH Metro was also told that the couple’s three children were attending a primary school in the Ikeja area; an eviction would mean a setback for their education.
Mary wondered why Dominic, whom she claimed knew her husband and hails from the same Benue community with him, would accept to take the apartment and throw the family out in the cold.
“We have been staying here since December 2014. My husband was a hardworking man. He served this nation to the best of his strength and ability. I have not received his death benefits or anything and they want to treat us like this? Where will I go with my children? I don’t have any money; please help us,” she said.
The Commandant, Police College, Ikeja, CP Olasupo Ajani, insisted that the barracks was a government property and because work must continue, Mary and her children must leave.
He, however, said the family was given till January 2020, adding that instead of making preparations to quit the apartment, the widow had been crying around and seeking help from people.
Ajani stated, “What we are saying is that since her husband died in August, the rule is that they should be given three months’ grace so that they can pack out. You know it is police job; work continues. You cannot donate the house to the woman.
“When the three months elapsed and they came to my office that she did not leave, I asked her why she was behaving that way.. Three months are enough for her to either relocate to her husband’s hometown or get another apartment, because this is a government house. When somebody dies on the job, they don’t give the house to the widow; the job continues and another person takes the position.”
Ajani said the police needed apartments for officers and men the widow’s cries would not help her condition.
Asked of the entitlements of the deceased, the police boss said there was a procedure to follow and Mary should be advised to start doing the right things to process George’s benefits.
“She is just particular about retaining that apartment, which is not possible. Even as the commandant, I cannot tell her that I will give her the apartment. This is a government job and the work will continue,” he added.