The Kaduna indigenous people of Gbagyi and Sokapu is crying out over a threat and demolition notice issued by the Kaduna State governor Nasir El-Rufai to demolish ancestral homes and churches. The people issued a press statement which reads as follows:
TEXT OF JOINT PRESS STATEMENT BY THE GBAGYI VILLA COMMUNITY AND SOKAPU YOUTH WING ON THE DEMOLITION NOTICE ISSUED TO GBAGYI VILLA RESIDENTS BY MALLAM NASIR EL-RUFAI’S GOVERNMENT THROUGH THE KADUNA STATE URBAN PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT AGENCY (KASUPDA).
Gbagyi villa Community is situated in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State. It shares boundaries with Kaduna Polytechnic campus along Television Bye-Pass and Ungwan Romi. The community has no fewer than 3,000 fully developed modern housing units, 40 churches and about 3,500 inhabitants. Both the Gbagyi Villa community land and Polytechnic land were formally one piece of land – it was the ancestral land of the Gbagyi people before part of it was “acquired” by Kaduna Polytechnic. The parcel of land in question has been a source of dispute between the native Gbagyi people and Polytechnic because the ancestral owners were not duly paid to enable the transfer of ownership from Gbagyi people to Kaduna Polytechnic. However, the erstwhile government of late Governor Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa, after due process through the court inaugurated a White Paper Committee in May 2011, which looked into the matter and amicably demarcated the boundary between the two parties.
POINT OF VIEW OF GBAGYI VILLA RESIDENTS
We have been compelled to embark on this peaceful assembly by events arising out of the plan by the Kaduna state Government to demolish our community. As we address you now, our entire village called Gagyi villa of more than three thousand houses will be due for demolition eight days from today. Already, notices have been served on us to that effect by the Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KASUPDA).
The reason given by government for this impending exercise is inconsistent: KASUPDA, in their demolition notice, cites alleged non-possession by us of planning permission. But in a strange twist, the office of the Governor, through the Director General in charge of lands, says the planned demolition is based on the reason that Gbagyi Villa allegedly is situated on Kaduna Polytechnic land. In our view, the foregoing are untenable excuses to destroy the products of the sweat of ordinary citizens by forces that have sworn to protect these citizens.
The story of Gbagyi villa is easy to understand. For hundreds of years the area had been inhabited by the Gbagyi people.However, sometime in 2010 a suit was instituted against some members of the local community by Kaduna polytechnic. In the course of the court proceedings, the polytechnic sought for settlement out of court. The court obliged and the matter was settled amicably. Thereafter the Kaduna state government issued a White Paper to that effect and the Surveyor General prepared a survey map demarcating the polytechnic land from that of the community. The polytechnic accepted the resolution of the dispute and, thereafter, proceeded to erect a concrete wall fence demarcating its land from that of the community.
From the foregoing it is clear to us that the polytechnic is not laying claim to Gbagyi villa and has no pending case against us. For the Kaduna State Government to claim that our community, after all these years of existence, sits on polytechnic land is incomprehensible to us.
Furthermore, the allegation by KASUPDA of non-possession of planning permits is false. KASUPDA knows this. It is just a veil to deceive the public and to obscure the true motive of government.
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 ‘’. 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.
In citing the Nigerian constitution, however we are not unmindful of our poor national economic circumstances that have diminished the capacity of governments to fulfill this fundamental obligation. In recognition, we have provided shelter for ourselves and our 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.
We wish to re-iterate some quick facts as follows:
- Gbagyi villa came into existence through a legitimate, 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 has more than 3,000 houses built and occupied by families, widows, orphans, retirees, civil servants and business people, and has over 40 worship houses, all built after KASUPDA permission.
4. Gbagyi villa is a mini Nigeria where all ethnic and religious groups are fully represented.
- We are law-abiding, peace-seeking and responsible citizens.
In spite of the foregoing facts, Gbagyi villa has been marked for demolition for reasons that can not be justified. The position of the Nasir El-Rufai Government on this issue scorns at the amicable resolution of the dispute with the consent of a court of law. It denounces the boundary demarcation by the state Surveyor General and accepted by the Polytechnic in writing and through the construction of a concrete fence. It repudiates the White Paper released by the state government on the matter. In a word, it rubbishes all the effort, processes and procedures that have up until this time sustained the peace in our community. It is an attempt at re-writing history. We call on the Kaduna state government to let history be, let peace be and let Gbagyi Villa be.
Contrary to what KASUPDA purported that Gbagyi Villa residents did not seek building permission before they embarked on such, we urge the state government to set-up a committee to carry out investigation on all the Planning Permissions issued by the agency to residents of the community to ascertain our stand that the agency had approved some building plans for developers
The peace loving people of Gbagyi Villa Community are calling on the El-Rufai’s government to have recourse and take into cognisance the resolve of the White Paper Committee of the Yakowa’s administration and also the order given by former Gov. Yero to demolish only that portion of land inside the polytechnic fence encroached upon by some unknown persons. This order excluded the demolition of Gbagyi Villa.
The residents of Gbagyi Villa are calling on his Excellency Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to please come and talk to us. Come visit our community. Come and inspect the physical facts on the ground. We believe you will agree with us that Gbagyi Villa deserves protection, not destruction.
We are appealing to President Muhammadu Buhari to impress it on the government of Kaduna state the need for a change of heart. We call on all advocates of justice, peace, fairness and human rights to join us in our quest for the preservation of our community.
Thank you all for your solidarity.
(CHAIRMAN, GBAGYI VILLA COMMUNITY) NATIONAL COORDINATOR