Noah Ebije, Kaduna
Aside from the Kaduna Urban Renewal Project that accounted for the demolition of several structures in the city centre a few months ago, a fresh demolition looms in the state.
No fewer than 2,800 houses in Nissi and Tasu communities of Mahuta area in Chikun Local Government Area might soon fall to the bulldozers of the state government.
The state government, through its housing agency, Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KASUPDA), has, in February, served the people of the communities a notice of demolition, claiming that they have encroached into industrial areas.
Nissi and Tasu are among settlements that sprang up rapidly following the mass movement of residents from the northern part of the state capital as a result of the Sharia crisis that claimed scores of lives in the state in 2000.
Other communities in the southern part of the state capital that also witnessed such high development included Kamazo, Gbagyi Villa and Ungwan Maigero.
Apart from allegations by government that residents have encroached on government lands, government has also expressed worry that the actual town plan for the Crocodile City by the colonial masters had been distorted.
Kaduna is the Hausa word for crocodile. The name came from the River Kaduna, the only river running through the state capital, which was once the home of a variety of amphibious crocodiles.The crocodiles went into extinction many years ago due to hunting expeditions by the locals.
Spokesman for the communities, Mr. Stephen Charles, said the demolition notice alone had so far caused maximum sorrow among residents.
Charles alleged that one of the residents, Warrant Officer Ndako Dauda (retd), died from shock shortly after the notice was posted on his house. He also alleged that a pharmacist resident in the area, whose name he couldn’t ascertain at the time of the report, had been hospitalised following a rise in his blood pressure as a result of the demolition notice posted on his house.
Former leaders of the communities, according to those who pleaded anonymity, had earlier embarked on dialogue with KASUPDA officials, but to no avail: “That is why we are left with no option than to take legal action to protect our property.”
The spokesman, however, appealed to Governor Nasir El-Rufai to stop the demolition until the court decides otherwise. He stated that the matter was currently before a Kaduna High Court.
Daily Sun gathered that, since the alleged appearance of Virgin Mary in Nissi community to one Rose Emmanuel about five years ago, the people have termed the area a ‘Holy City’ that should not be subjected to any form of destruction.
The two communities are said to have a population of over 10,000 residents, with 25 churches of different denominations and 14 schools.
The communities are in the neighbourhood of Kaduna Refinery and Petrochemical Company (KRPC). The areas have, in recent times, witnessed cases of kidnapping and banditry.
KASUPDA had issued a demolishing notice dated 07/02/2020 under the Kaduna State Urban and Regional Planning Law No. 31 of 2018 to the residents of the communities.
The demolition notice, which was signed by the director-general of KASUPDA, Ismai’l Umaru Dikko, and posted on the affected properties, read: “It has come to the notice of the authority that you have encroached into an industrial layout and illegally developed a piece of land without obtaining the necessary approval.
“The action of yours is a contravention of the above-mentioned law. In view of the above, you are hereby given 21 days to remove the structure and vacate the site.
“Failure to comply with the above, the authority will be left with no option than to demolish the structure at your expense in accordance with Section 60 (2) of the Kaduna State Urban Planning Law of 2018.”
Not comfortable with the demolition notice, the community members approached the court through their team of lawyers, led by Mr. Sam Atung. They are seeking, among others, a restraining order stopping the demolition exercise. And the Kaduna High Court presided, over by Justice Binta Zubairu, has granted their prayers: “An order of interim injunction is hereby granted restraining the defendant /respondent jointly and severally, whether acting by themselves, officials, workmen etc and or whosoever or howsoever from demolishing, pulling down or interfering in whatever manner with the plaintiff/applicants possession and interest in their houses lying and situated at Nissi and Tasu villages in Chikun LGA of Kaduna State pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice.”
However, speaking with journalists shortly after the case was adjourned to another date in February, Atung said that some of the houses have their building approvals as well as the certificates of occupancy (C/O) by relevant government authorities in the state.
“The ex parte order, which was granted last on February 28, 2020, ought to have elapsed today but it has been extended to the next adjourned date,” Atung said.