By Iliya Kure
Kaduna (Nigeria) — A Kaduna High Court presided by Justice Hannatu A.L. Balogun has granted residents of Gbagyi Villa in Kaduna metropolis, northwest Nigeria, an order of injunction, restraining Governor Nasir El-Rufai of the State, and four others from interfering with the possession, use and occupation of the properties in issue, and from carrying out any demolition of the properties of the community pending determination of notice.
The Injunction order sought to stop “the State Government, the Attorney General of the state, Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KASUPDA), respectively as respondents, either by themselves or through their employees, staff, servants, agents, proxies or whosoever, from demolishing or destroying the applicants’ buildings.”
In the suit no: KDH/KAD/218/2016 dated 17/3/16 and filed by Messrs J.A.Achimugu and 1.Joshua J. Nyam, 2.Mr Chriastian Ojole,3.Alex Abedo (Suing for themselves and on behalf of All the property Owners at Gbagyi Villa Village, Kaduna, Kaduna State (PLAINTIFFS/APPLICANT). The court affirmed that it found merit in the said Exparte Motion and accordingly granted the relief sought.
Consequently, an Interim Order of Injunction was granted restraining the respondent in terms of the relief sought pending the determination of the Motion on Notice made together and to be served on the Respondents.
Kaduna State Urban and Property Development Agency (KAPSUDA), had earlier marked houses in the area for demolition within 21 days, for what it calls, not obtaining permit from the agency before erecting such structures.
In a notice to the community it says “the agency would… demolish the illegal structure at your expense in accordance with section 48(2) of the aforementioned laws.” the letter states.
El-Rufai is known with the policy of demolition of houses; he demolished hundreds of houses and structures in Abuja while a Minister of the Federal Capital Territory. He also demolished houses last year in Zaria and Kaduna shortly he became Governor of the State.
As FCT Minister, he disregarded many court orders restraining him from demolition of houses – he had gone free with that. As a governor with immunity no one is sure he will obey the court order.
Meanwhile, residents of the Gbagyi Villa Thursday protested the KASUPDA decision to demolish over 3000 houses in the area.
The residents and owners of the houses came out with their wives and children chanting songs with placards reading, “El-Rufai, is this the change you promised us?, “Don’t make us destitute in our father’s land, stop demolition, “El-Rufai, don’t turn Gbagyi Villa to war zone” “El-Rufai we want infrastructures not demolition” among several others.
Addressing journalists, Chairman of the Gbagyi community, Chris Obodumu, said contrary to KASUPDA’s claim, houses in the area were built after obtaining valid permit.
He noted that Gbagyi Villa has more than 3000 fully developed modern housing units, 40 churches and about 3500 inhabitants, adding that the area is a mini Nigeria where all ethnic and religious groups are represented.
He said, as law abiding, peace – seeking and responsible citizens, the affected residents are ready to dialogue with the State Governor, “The residents of Gbagyi Villa are calling on his excellency, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai to please come and talk to us.
“We are calling on the governor to visit our community, come and inspect the physical facts on the ground.
“By the time you visit us, we believe that you will agree with us that Gbagyi Villa deserves protection, not destruction.
“We are also 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.
“The peace loving people of Gbagyi Villa community are calling on the El-Rufai 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 the former Governor Yero to demolish only that portion of land inside the polytechnic fence encroached upon by some unknown persons. This order excludes the demolition of gbagyi villa” Obodumu said.
Prior to the protest, spokesman of the Governor, Samuel Aruwan went on State radio appealing to Kaduna people not to join the protest to cause security breach in the State.
Aruwan said, government was only recovering land illegally acquired by people in the affected area, noting that the exercise was not targetted at anyone.