By Sunday Elijah
A rights group, Rescue Movement for New Nigeria, has called on the Nigeria Police, the Nigerian Army, the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, and other security agencies in the country to stop releasing their personnel for illegal operations carried out by the outgoing governor of Kaduna state, Nasir El-Rufa’i.
The group made the call through a statement they distributed while embarking on a protest, resisting the demolition of houses at the Gbaygi villa area of Kaduna, embarked upon on the orders of the outgoing Gov. El-Rufa’i, who has less than six days in office.
Recently, El-rufa’i bragged about continuing with his policies of the sacking of civil servants and demolition of houses till the eleventh hour to his exit.
The group which said the protest was the beginning of planned “Mother Of All Protests In Kaduna State” vowed to resist any attempt to demolish any structure in the community.
“Gbagyi Villa people said enough is enough of the harassment and intimidation by El-rufai. That since the governor who is supposed to uphold the law is the person taking the law into his hand against judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction and the law enforcement agents that supposed to abide by law also give him backing illegally, the youths too are ready to take the law into their hand to defend the judgment of the court since the country has been turned to Banana Republic,” the statement said.
Full statement below
PRESS RELEASE DURING THE PROTEST OF RESCUE MOVEMENT FOR NEW NIGERIA
Wednesday 24th May, 2023
RESCUE MOVEMENT FOR NEW NIGERIA CALLS ON NIGERIA AUTHORITY TO CAUTION EL-RUFAI AGAINST DEMOLITION OF GBAGYI VILLA DESPITE COURT JUDGMENT IN FAVOUR OF THE COMMUNITY
It is so pathetic that Mallam Nasir El-rufai, a sitting governor who has less than six days to go will attempt to set the state he governs on fire by taking the law into his hand to commence demolition of a community that already secured a clear judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction against such act. Yet the governor elect who will be taking over from him is his follower whom he went extra mile to support to emerge as governor. Is El-rufai setting up the next governor by deliberately creating chaotic situations to create enemies for the governor just like he created enemies for himself throughout his tenure that as a governor, he could not move freely in some part of the state he governs, even with his heavy security presence?
This and others are the questions in the lips of the leadership of Rescue Movement For New Nigeria. But this is the time when the country needs peace, reconciliation and healing, but El-rufai, a member of the ruling party that is supposed to initiate the healing process, is always out fanning embers of war, stirring more division than ever before and creating more enemies.
Therefore, in this protest today, which is just the beginning of our planned “Mother Of All Protests In Kaduna State” we want to call on the IGP, AIGP, the Police Commissioner, the the GOC, the Commandant NDA, Commandant Civil Defense and other security agencies to cease from releasing their personnel for the back up of El-rufai’s illegality.
And the incoming governor Senator Uba Sani is also advised to go for peace immediately he is sworn in, instead of inheriting El-rufai’s avoidable crisis. Because it’s obvious his man, Mallam Nasir El-rufai is setting him up to make Kaduna State ungovernable for him so that he too won’t be able to move freely in the state he will govern just like El-rufai was repeatedly pelted with stones among those that can even be somehow referred to as “his people”.
In as much as we are ready to take up court cases against all the perpetrators of the illegality, we wish to fundamentally assert that we have adequate knowledge of the matter, as we have carried out our diligent investigation as summarised below.
When the news of the second attempt by Governor Nasir El-rufai to demolish Gbagyi Villa, despite subsisting court judgment in favour of Gbagyi Villa broke out, our Organisation (Rescue Movement For New Nigeria) decided to dig deep into the issue and we discovered as follows:
No 1) That immediately Gov Nasir El-rufai took over Kaduna State, he invaded Gbagyi Villa claiming the land belongs to Kaduna Federal Polytechnic. Hence vowed to demolish the over 3,500 houses, more than 43 churches, clinic and all buildings in the community.
Then the Property Owners Association of Gbagyi Villa took the matter to a court of competent jurisdiction in suit number KDH/KAD/218/2016. After thorough arguments between the lawyers of Kaduna State government with her agencies and the lawyers representing Gbagyi Villa community, it was clear that:
(A) As at when El-rufai invaded Gbagyi Villa, the Kaduna (Federal) Polytechnic had no pending dispute with the Gbagyi Villa community as the only dispute between them was resolved amicably out of court by the intervention of the late Governor Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna State then and even till date there is no other dispute with Gbagyi Villa peaceful people.
(B) Kaduna Polytechnic (a federal institution) could not even be joined in the court case against El-rufai since there is no pending dispute between the institution and Gbagyi Villa. This was clearly declared by Kaduna Polytechnic in her affidavit filed at the court when Kaduna State government wanted the Polytechnic to be joined in the case.
(C) Kaduna State government under the leadership of Governor Nasir El-rufai only attempted to capitalise on Kaduna Polytechnic to mislead the public by claiming that there is dispute between the institution and Gbagyi Villa.
Thus, the court ruled as follows:
(A) “In this circumstance, I find and hold that the plaintiffs (landlords in Gbagyi Villa community) are not trespassers on the Gbagyi Villa community land, upon which they built their properties, but are holders of customary titles, which are deemed grants of right of occupancy pursuant to section 34 of the Land Use Act”.
(B) “On the whole I hold that the plaintiffs (Gbagyi Villa community members) have proved their case on a balance of probabilities.
“The defendants (Gov Nasir El-rufai, KASUPDA and other agents of Kaduna State government) have no locus to hold brief for Kaduna Polytechnic who HAS NO DISPUTE WITH THE PRESENT PLAINTIFFS.
“Consequently judgment is entered for the plaintiffs and I make all the declarations sought and grant all the orders as prayed.
“The counterclaim (by Kaduna State government and her agencies) is dismissed for lack of merit”.
Rescue Movement For New Nigeria also wants to further clarify based on what we read in the court judgment (that we have obtained a certified true copy) that part of the prayers granted by the court of competent jurisdiction include, but not limited to:
(A) “AN ORDER of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants (Kaduna State government and her agencies) by themselves or through any agent… from carrying out any demolition of the properties, buildings or structures of the plaintiffs at Gbagyi Villa without any prior order of a court of competent jurisdiction obtained by the defendants through the due process of law against the plaintiffs and authorizing the enforcement or demolition.”
(B) “A declaration that the 5th defendant (The Commissioner of Police, Kaduna State) cannot lawfully avail the Kaduna State government or her agencies, the service of the officers and men of the Nigeria Police Force under his command either by way of security cover or howsoever otherwise to effect the demolition of the properties, buildings and structures of the plaintiffs at Gbagyi Villa, without a prior court order obtained by 1st to 4th defendants through the due process of law, directing or compelling the 5th defendant to enforce such demolition or enforcement.”
Thus the action of the Commissioner of Police was an abuse of the “Section 4 of the Police Act” and a gross violation of the power conferred on him.
No 2) While the court case was not yet concluded, El-rufai came up with a form for Gbagyi Villa people to fill, sign and submit about their properties, but the lawyer to the community advised that such an act could be mischievous. Hence, no member of the community should collect any form about their property from the government that is in court with them until the end of the court case.
No 3) After the court case ended with clear judgment in favour of the Gbagyi Villa community El-rufai came up with another form for Gbagyi Villa people to fill, sign and submit. The form titled “Application For Grant/Re-Grant Of Right Of Occupancy (Statutory/Customary)” was distributed round the community asking landlords to go to an Agency of Kaduna State government named, “Kaduna Geographical Information Service (KADGIS)” to submit the form and pay twenty thousand naira (N20,000) for what was termed “regularization”.
The form was shared from 14th June, 2022 and many landlords in Gbagyi Villa complied, but few of them are still skeptic, suspecting mischief as there was rumour that El-rufai vowed to still level Gbagyi Villa to rubble even if it will happen 24 hours to the end of his tenure.
No 4) It was also confirmed that the portal for receiving the payment for the “regularization” was close on 31st December, 2022 (being five and half months after the commence of the sharing of the form). And till date it has not been reopened for submission for Gbagyi Villa community. Hence, people from Gbagyi Villa who later had rethink and wanted to submit the “regularization” form with their payment are no longer able to do that as KADGIS refused to collect the form and money since after 31 December, 2022 and no way to make payment from then till today
No 5) From KADGIS office it was gathered that the governor had ordered that the houses of those who didn’t pay the N20,000 should be demolished.
No 6) Then in a leaked memo from the Director-General of Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KASUPDA), Mallam Ismail Umaru-Dikko, dated April 20, 2023, he demanded the urgent release of N29,253,500 for the demolition exercise of various properties including Gbagyi Villa.
The memo by KASUPDA entitled ‘Request for Clearance To Carry out Pending Demolition Exercise’, listed Gbagyi Villa citing reasons of “non-compliance on special regularization programme”.
And it was confirmed that the governor eventually released the money for KASUPDA for the demolition exercises to enable the agency engage the service of bulldozers, drivers, get security personnel and thugs that will accompany the bulldozers drivers and others coming for demolition.
No 7) Then on Monday 8th May, 2023 KASUPDA workers came into Gbagyi Villa with loads of armed uniform men lead by one Mr. Francis who is a KASUPDA staff and distributed letter to all houses in Gbagyi Villa giving 60 days notice to those who have not paid the said N20,000 for regularization to go and pay. And those who have paid to go and start fresh building approval for their existing building even if they have prior approval. As based on finding by those who visited KASUPDA after receiving the letter, that the agency now claimed that all previous building approval granted before now, have been voided and cancelled by the order from the governor.
This Mr. Francis that lead the security men to distribute the last letter is the KASUPDA staff in charge of areas in Southern part of Kaduna, covering Gbagyi Villa. He has been consistently leading thugs to badly puncture and seriously damage new houses in Gbagyi Villa as the agency has refused to grant any new building approval for anyone in Gbagyi Villa during the court case and since the court case ended on 26th February, 2023 thereby suspended any kind of development in the entire Gbagyi Villa, not even renovation that will be seen outside is legally allowed again. And the buildings of those who dare to do carry out renovation or construction have been badly damaged by thugs lead by the Mr. Francis who claimed to be acting on instructions from the Director of Development in KASUPDA.
No 8) After giving out the letters, it was said that it will be only the buildings of those who didn’t pay the N20,000 that will be demolished. Though this does not go well with all members of the community, but those who have not paid expressed readiness to pay, but the portal to receive the payment is still not opened till now. So there is absolutely no way to make the payment without the portal opened.
No 9). On Monday 22nd May, 2023 being 18 days after the sharing of the letter giving 60 days notice for people to go and pay, Gbagyi Villa people suddenly heard that El-rufai’s bulldozers were on the way to Gbagyi Villa accompanied by armed uniform men for the demolition of Gbagyi Villa. Therefore youths came out massively and vowed to resist such act of illegality and contempt of court with their last blood.
Gbagyi Villa people said enough is enough of the harassment and intimidation by El-rufai. That since the governor who supposed to uphold the law is the person taking the law into his hand against judgment of a court of competent jurisdiction and the law enforcement agents that supposed to abide by law also give him backing illegally, the youths too are ready to take the law into their hand to defend the judgment of the court since the country has been turned to Banana Republic.
The people thus vowed that either they want to demolish the houses of those who had not paid the N20,000 or all the houses in Gbagyi Villa, the demolishers and their armed uniform men will be resisted and every building will be defended.
However, the bulldozers passed through the other entrance to Gbagyi Villa not commonly used and already commenced demolition before the youths arrived. We also gathered that the first buildings that were leveled completely, the owner of the building had paid the said N20,000 for the regularization since last year and even the receipt of payment was pasted conspicuously on the building as at when it was demolished.
Speaking after their emergency meeting held on 23rd of May 2023, the leader of the Rescue Movement For New Nigeria, Faduri Joseph pointed out that, in the light of the clear revelation, it’s obvious beyond every reasonable and unreasonable doubt that Gov Nasir El-rufai has no justifiable reason to demolish Gbagyi Villa more than just that of a man in authority vested with so much power and who has personal hatred for a community probably because the people didn’t support his elections. Hence, the deep seated hatred clearly manifests in the various scheming attempts to call the peaceful law abiding people bad names and destroy their landed properties. Yet there are widows, pensioners, orphans whose only comfort is the building that has overhead.
Reiterating the organisation’s commitment and readiness for justice, equity and fairness irrespective of class or tribe, the DG Rescue Movement For New Nigeria, Comrade Martins Chiedozie Ugwu, noted that the Rescue Nigeria Movement has finalized the arrangement to drag Kaduna State government, the Commissioner of Police and their agencies to court over abuse of power, disobedient to court order. And also drag El-rufai to court as an individual after his handing over, that he has no immunity any longer so that he can account for his gross abuse of power and other atrocities committed hiding under immunity.
The noble movement has therefore called for this protest to mark the beginning of “Mother Of All Protests In Kaduna State, as the leadership vowed to do anything within their right to ensure that the person of GBAGYI get justice! Enough is enough, he said.
Media Director, Rescue Movement For New Nigeria.