Community Rejects El-Rufai’s Planned Demolition

Ahead of expiration of the 21 days notice for the demolition of over 3,000 houses at Gbagyi Villa, Kaduna State, landlords, tenants and their children on Thursday came out in hundreds to protest the plan by Kaduna State Government to commence demolition of the houses built on the encroached land belonging to Kaduna Polytechnic.

Kaduna State Urban and Property Development Agency , KASUPDA, had on 4 February, 2016, issued a 21 days notice for demolition, which expired on 25 February, but the members of the Gbagyi villla community, who came out as early as 7 a.m. Thursday for a peaceful protest.
They carried various placards with inscriptions such as: “Gbagyi Villa is our ancestral land”, “El-Rufai don’t demolish our houses”, “El-Rufai, is this the Change you promised us?” “Our buildings have planning permit issued by KASUPDA”, “El-Rufai, demolition is ethnic cleansing against Gbagyi people” and several others.

They said the reason given for the demolition of their houses is inconsistent with the laws of the land and insensitive to the plight of community members.

According to them, KASUPDA in their demolition notice, cited alleged non-posssesion of planning permit, but in a strange twist, Governor El-Rufai through the Director-General of Lands said the planned demolition is based on the reason that Gbagyi Villa is situated on Kaduna Polytechnic land.

They also said the allegation by KASUPDA of non-possession of planning permits is false.

Gbagyi protesters including children Gbagyi protesters including children[/caption]
“It is incomprehinsible and unfair for Kaduna State government to claim that our community, after all these years of existence, sits on Polytechnic land,” they stated.

Addressing journalists after the peaceful protest within the Gbagyi Villa community Thursday, Chairman of land owners within the disputed land, Chris Obodumu said “Section 16, sub-section 2(d) of the 1999 Constitution of Nigeria as amended, provides that the state shall direct its policy towards among other things ensuring that suitable and adequate shelter are provided for all citizens.”

While pointing out that even the United Nations recognises the provision of shelter as part of the irreducible minimum of the fundamental duty of every government to its citizens, Obodumu noted “We have provided shelters for ourselves and families, it is therefore unconscionable, immoral and constitutionally indefensible for any government, especially one that rode to power on the crest of poor welfare delivery by past governments to plan to demolish a place like Gbagyi Villa where citizens have built over 3,000 houses.”

He further explained thatv Gbagyi Villa came into existence through a legitimate and lawful process.

“Gbagyi villa has no dispute with any of its neighbours, nor is any entity or institution laying claim to the land on which it is situated. Gbagyi villa and has more than 3,000 houses built and occupied by families, widows, orphans, retirees, civil servants and business people,” he said.

He also said with over 40 Churches, all built after KASUPDA’s permission, with Gbagyi villa being a mini Nigeria where all ethnic and religious groups are fully represented, it would unfair for El-Rufai to go ahead with the demolition of their houses.

According to him , what baffled all residents is that in spite of all earlier issues raised concerning ownership or the land, Gbagyi villa has been marked for demolition for unjustifiable reasons, adding that “the position of Governor Nasir El-Rufai on the issue scorns at the amicable resolution of the dispute with the consent of a court of law , repudiates the white paper released by the state government on the matter and denounces the boundary demarcation by the Surveyor General, which was accepted by Kaduna Polytechnic in writing through the construction of a concrete fence.

The Gbagyi Villa Chairman, however, urged the state government to set up a committee to carry out investigation on all the planning permits issued by KASUPDA to ascertain whether or not they are authentic.

He also called on El-Rufai to have recourse and take into cognisance, the resolve of the white paper committee of the late Yakowa administration and order of former Kaduna governor, Mukhtar Ramalan, Yero to demolish only a portion of the encroached land inside Kadpoly fence .

“We are appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to impress it on Governor El-Rufai the need to change his mind over the planned demolition,” he urged.

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