The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, on Wednesday sealed the multi-billion naira Enugu Mall occupied by SPAR, a multinational retail outlet.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that EFCC officers stormed the building in the early hours of the day and dispersed all the workers.
Chris Oluka, the Head of Public Affairs of EFCC, confirmed the incident, saying that the managers of the building flouted the directive of EFCC on the construction of the building.
Mr. Oluka said that the officers from Abuja raided the mall and dispersed workers who were recently recruited preparatory to official opening of business on Friday.
“Yes, our men went there to disperse them because they flouted our instructions.
“We had sealed the premises and wrote ‘under EFCC investigation’, but they covered the write-up with paint,” he said.
It would be recalled that the commission had earlier in the year sealed the mall, located beside the Enugu State House of Assembly, by writing the inscription ‘Under EFCC Investigation’.
However, construction work continued at the site.
Johnson Babalola, the Zonal Head of Operations in EFCC South East, had during an earlier interaction with journalists, said it was not against any known law for the owners to go ahead with construction work.
Mr. Babalola had said that since the property was not yet under permanent forfeiture to the government, “construction work can still go on while investigations continue”.
On the new development, Mr. Oluka, however, said that allowing the business to operate in the building could jeopardise investigations.
“I do not have much to say about this because the officers that dispersed the workers this morning came from Abuja,” Mr. Oluka said.
On the invitation of the manager of the mall to the zonal office of the commission after the workers were dispersed, Mr. Oluka said it should not be misconstrued as an arrest.
“They were invited to come and explain why they did what we told them not to do,” Mr. Oluka said.
Some workers at the mall, however, expressed displeasure over the incident, describing it as anti-labour.
Some of the newly recruited workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they were worried because EFCC officials swooped on the mall just two days to the official opening.
One of the workers said: “we are surprised this can happen at a time the government is preaching job creation.
“Over 250 of us were employed by this company and we are not certain what will happen next.
“We are appealing to the authorities concerned to look into it urgently and save us from continued hardship.”
Efforts to reach the managers failed as they were all at the EFCC office for interrogation as at the time of this report.