By Luka Binniyat
KADUNA—Hundreds of aggrieved women and children, yesterday, trooped into the streets of Kaduna metropolis protesting the planned demolition of 3,500 houses, 40 churches and 16 schools at the 35,000-strong Gbagyi villa community.
Governor Nasir el-Rufai is insisting on demolishing the community situated in the suburb of Kaduna despite a restraining court order, claiming the place was illegally occupied by ‘criminals’ on a land allegedly belonging to Federal Polytechnic, Kaduna.
El-Rufai had, a week ago, visited Ggabyi villa with his officials and refused to meet with leaders of the community, saying every structure standing that does not have a certificate-of-occupancy, C-of-O, and a building permit would be demolished despite the subsisting court order stopping him from doing so.
However, the protesting women and children of Gbagyi, who carried placards with inscriptions such as ‘We are not criminals,’ ‘el-Rufai came to power through rule-of-law; respect it,’ ‘el-Rufai cannot be the accuser and judge,’said they did not break any law and pleaded with the governor to see reason with them.
Chairman, Gbagyi Villa Property Owners Association, Chris Abba, said less than two percent of the millions of homes and property in Kaduna State had C-of-O, but that almost every property in Ggagyi villa had valid building permits from Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Authority, KASUPDA.
He said: “If it is not this week the governor may have issued a C-of-O for his father’s house in Zaria, we challenge him to produce one. There are ulterior motives behind his insistence to effect this demolition.”