Residents of Gbagyi Villa Community in Chikun Local Government Area of Kaduna State are staging protests against a plan by the State government to demolish their buildings and have them pay for the demolition.
According to news report on Channels TV, the demolition scheme is based on government’s claim that the buildings were illegally erected on a parcel of land belonging to Kaduna Polytechnic.
The residents, comprising of men, women and even children embarked on a peaceful demonstration on Thursday morning, demanding that the planned demolition should be suspended. So with placards they sang anti-government songs as they matched along the roads to demonstrate their anger.
It should be pointed out that the community in question is 96% Christian and following the yet-to-be approved Religious Preaching bill before the State House of Assembly, one wonders what the actual motive of the state government is.
They also claimed to be in possession of all relevant documents that gave them the right to occupy the land, insisting that the planned demolition was religious, illegal and inhumane.
According to them, the land in question had been a source of dispute between them and the polytechnic due to the fact that the native owners were not duly settled to enable them transfer complete ownership to the institution.
In a press statement jointly signed by the Chairman, Gbagyi Villa Community, Chris Obodumu and National Co-oordinator, Nasiru Jagaba, though the people acknowledged the conflict of interest between Kaduna Polytechnic and Gbagyi community, they said the matter was amicably resolved by the late Governor Patrick Yahowa in 2011 when he demarcated the boundary between the two parties.
Reacting to the protests, spokesman for the State governor, Mr. Samuel Aruwan, explained that the planned demolition was “to restore the land back to the rightful owner – the Kaduna Polytechnic.” Stating that some people deliberately encroached into the portion of land belonging to the polytechnic even when they knew where the boundary was.
According to him, as the municipal authority in which all land in the state is vested upon, the government was again approached in 2015 by the Kaduna Polytechnic requesting action to preserve their entitlement.
Although none of the residents have presented their land titles to the relevant government agency, Aruwan said the government was ready to recognise and protect every proven title to land.
Gbagyi Villa Community shares boundaries with Kaduna Polytechnic and Ungwar Romi, along the eastern bye-pass. Both the Gbagyi Villa land and that of the polytechnic were formally one piece of land before a part of it was acquired by the latter many years ago.
In recent time, some people were said to have encroached into the land and erected their structures there without approval from either the state government or the polytechnic management.
The owners of the houses have been served a notice of eviction through KASUPDA, after which they will be demolished. In the copy of the eviction notice dated August 5, 2015, the council based its action on the state’s 1958 Township Building Rules and Environmental Protection Law of 2010.
Pending when the bulldozers will move in, the residents demand that a committee be set up by the state governor to investigate all issues and transactions relating to the land.
They also called on Governor Nasir El-Rufai to consider the recommendation of the white paper of the Yakowa’s administration not to demolish lands belonging to the Gbayi people.
They said that the polytechnic community was not laying claim to the same land and wondered what the interest of the Kaduna State government on the matter was.
According to them, the plan to demolish their buildings rubbishes all efforts and procedures that had sustained the peace and unity in their community over the years.