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Police Commissioner vows to investigate after shelter school razed to the ground 'illegally'

Friday February 26, 2021

FILE PHOTO - Major General Abdi Hassan Mohamed Hijaar

Mogadishu (HOL) -  Somalia's Police Commissioner, Major General Abdi Hassan Mohamed Hijaar, has called the destruction of a shelter school by government forces in Mogadishu's city centre "illegal" and vowed to take legal action against the officers responsible for the damages.

Hijaar visited the Hamar Boarding School on Friday and apologized to teachers and staff. He apologized to teachers and students and promised he would investigate.

"We apologize for what happened last night. It was not the policy of the government offices or the police. The officers and soldiers who carried out this operation will be prosecuted. You will hear that action tomorrow morning, God willing," said Commander Hijaar.

Hijaar said the President and the Prime Minister sent him.

"I spoke with the President and the Prime Minister. They have sent me to meet with you as the police commissioner. Our government wants to promote progress and education. We promise never to repeat the events of last night."

The school is believed to have been demolished by Somali police officers.

Somali's ministry of education has denounced the move as illegal.

Abdirahman Degay, the school's principal, told reporters in a press conference in the afternoon that uniformed Somali police officers ransacked the compound in the early morning, just before Fajr prayers. He said the officers forced the children outside of their rooms and began demolishing the school.

He said the officers tossed the mattresses belonging to the students outside, along with books and school supplies.

Degay believes that the building, which sits on prime Mogadishu real estate, was razed illegally because business people have been eyeing it for property development projects.

"I've spoken about this problem many times before with the government. This is a valuable property; it has been assessed to be worth close to $10 million, I was offered $2 million to assist them, and I turned them down. This public knowledge. After I declined their offer, they resorted to force and last night; the government attacked our school."

He said that he was arrested and held without charge for several hours before being released.

"They held me at gunpoint and arrested me for hours without cause, and I've just been released. They refused to show me a warrant at the police station. This school doesn't belong to me. It belongs to the Somali people. The building is built 40 years ago with Somali tax dollars."

Degay says he is worried for his students.

"There are 100 boarding students who have nowhere to sleep tonight. We need to solve this problem first."

The school currently sits on government property, but the school is managed independently.

Hamar Boarding school after being demolished by government forces. TWITTER


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