•Senate condemns act, asks governor to rebuild house or…
•Why we demolished the building — Kaduna State government agency
•Our soldiers not involved in demolition — Army
By Kingsley Omonobi, Henry Umoru & Ben Agande
Kaduna – The lingering crisis in Kaduna State chapter of the All Progressives Congress, APC, worsened yesterday after a building located in the heart of Kaduna city, belonging to a leader of one of the two factions, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, was pulled down by the state government.
Senator Hunkuyi, whose faction, last week, suspended Governor Nasir El-Rufai from the party, immediately accused the governor of instigating the action, saying the building was used as the campaign office for Governor El-Rufai and also as the state headquarters of the APC.
The senator, however, vowed that the action of the governor would not demoralise him.
The Senate in a sharp reaction, condemned the move upon a motion on the issue brought by Senator Shehu Sani who on his part called on President Muhammadu Buhari to rein in the Kaduna governor.
The Kaduna State Government, while acknowledging the demolition, said the building was pulled down upon failure of the owner to pay ground rent since 2010 and for public nuisance, including attracting political thugs.
The building had reportedly been put to the use of the APC faction to which Hunkuyi belongs and from where the suspension order on the governor was issued.
The one-storey building, located along Sambo Road in Ungwar Rimi, was pulled down in the early hours of yesterday by a team from Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency, KAPSUDA, in company of heavily armed military and police men.
The government said a revocation order was issued out of Kaduna Geographic Information Services, KADGIS, but did not say when the notice was given.
News of the demolition gained attention after a tweet from Hunkuyi on the incident.
In his tweet, the Kaduna North senator, who has had recurring fallouts and reconciliations with El-Rufai, said: “It is on record that few months back, @GovKaduna Mallam @elrufai marked another property of mine in Hunkuyi town for demolition, but residents of the area prevented the officials from demolishing it. Today, he came well prepared with military men to destroy my house at Sambo Road.”
Why we demolished Senator Hunkuyi’s house —KDSG
Justifying the demolition yesterday, the Director General of Kaduna Geographic Information Services, KADGIS, Ibrahim Husseini, said the “illegal violation of land use had begun to distress neighbours who were being forced to endure an influx of thugs and blockage of the road.”
The statement read: “The Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KAPSUDA) is currently undertaking operations across Kaduna metropolis in compliance with its mandate. In partnership with sister agencies, KASUPDA is clearing illegal structures, tackling street hawking and restoring order across Kaduna.
“This morning, (yesterday) a building on 11B Sambo Close was removed for flagrant violations of land use and non-payment of ground rent since 2010. This illegal violation of use had begun to distress neighbours who were being forced to endure an influx of thugs and blockage of the road.
“The Kaduna Geographic Information Service (KADGIS) issued a revocation notice of statutory right of occupancy No. KD. 16712 that covers 11b Sambo Close in the Ungwan Rimi area. The appropriate notice of revocation was delivered at 28 Inuwa Wada Road, the registered address of the company that held the title to the property. The notice was also delivered to the building in question and sent by post to the registered address of the previous title holder.
“The land has now been allocated to KASUPDA for the purpose of developing and maintaining a public park that will provide a green area and a serene place for recreation in that residential neighbourhood.
“KADGIS wishes to remind all title owners to be fastidious in complying with the terms of their allocation. The purpose of allocation of land cannot be wilfully altered; neither can title holders lawfully neglect to pay their ground rents.
“Since 2016, the government has been taking action on various land-related matters, including revoking all undeveloped land titles in the state and directed that all abandoned buildings be developed within three months of the notice.
“The Kaduna Geographic Information Service (KADGIS), as the government agency charged with ultimate responsibility on land matters in Kaduna State, calls for the utmost cooperation by the public with all our agencies.”
Senate condemns demolition, asks governor to pay compensation
The Senate in a sharp reaction, condemned the demolition, with the presiding officer and Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, warning that politicians must not overheat the polity ahead of the 2019 elections.
Ekweremadu, who noted that demolitions carried out against political rivals should stop, said the government should have taken resort to the courts in pressing its issues against the senator.
“This is something we need to watch, as we head towards 2019. We must appeal to politicians not to overheat the system and then imperil our democracy. There is a limit to the patience of our people.
“This should be the last of this kind of incident in any part of Nigeria. If people have grievances, they have the court to settle it, and our courts can be trusted to ensure that justice is delivered to whoever justice is due.
“I do hope that the governor will make effort to go and rebuild the house or pay him adequate compensation. We condemn the act.”
The Senate resolution to condemn the demolition was upon a motion brought to the Senate floor by Senator Shehu Sani, APC, Kaduna Central, who has himself been engaged in a long-running political spat with Governor El-Rufai.
Presenting his motion earlier, Senator Sani said: “In the last two and half years, we have been faced with tyranny and open dictatorship in Kaduna State. My constituency office was attacked by violent thugs, and it has also been clear that armed military personnel and policemen have been consistently used by the governor to intimidate and harass people who don’t agree with him.”
Expressing concern that Governor El-Rufai projects himself as acting in the best interest of President Muhammadu Buhari, Senator Sani said: “It is of concern to us that these actions by the governor had been done in the name of Mr. President.
“We will use this opportunity to call on Mr. President to caution his beloved son who has unleashed a reign of terror and has been held in the most despicable and irresponsible way and it is a fact that if this crisis is not in every way nipped in the bud, it will in every way catapult and metamorphose into something bigger.”
I have forgiven El-Rufai — Senator Hunkuyi
Meanwhile, Senator Hunkuyi said he had forgiven Governor El-Rufai over the action and described the governor as his brother.
He also noted that the same building was used as El-Rufai’s campaign office ahead of the 2015 elections and also as APC state secretariat.
Hunkuyi, who wondered what would have happened, if it were during military rule, said that El-Rufai was incompatible with democratic norms, adding, “if such things could happen, what will the military have done?”
He stated further: “Your own party, no matter the dispute, what will the military be doing in a location like that.
“To me, if the intention of pulling down the property is to shut me down, it has given me more reason, strong reason to maintain my posture, my belief, maintain my direction in standing strongly with the electorate and my people in my state.
“As I am standing here today, the 20th of February 2018, let that be a point for the growth of democracy in that state; let it serve as a rallying point for those who have been short-changed, pained in any way in my state by the leadership of Nasir El-Rufai.
“This is not too much a price to pay for democracy to thrive, a price to pay to express the opinion of my teeming supporters. I am at the receiving end today. Over 40,000 people have lost their means of livelihood just because we disagree with El-Rufai.
“Let me also use the opportunity to remind Nasir El-Rufai that there is another property which I housed him, which he slept in so many times in the course of bringing so many people together to elect him as governor on Queen Elizabeth Road in Zaria. In case he forgets and in case he still wants to take it, I rest my case.”
Army not involved in demolition —1 Division
Meanwhile, the Nigerian Army has denied any involvement in the demolition of the office of the All Progressive Congress (APC) in Kaduna state.
According to authorities of the 1 Division, Nigerian Army, none of its soldiers was involved in the demolition exercise, noting that attempt to drag the army into the issue was to distract it from its professional duties.
The Army in a statement signed by Col Muhammed Dole, Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, said: “The attention of 1 Division, Nigerian Army, has been drawn to a twitter message, report in mass and social media of alleged involvement of military personnel in the demolition of a politician’s property by KASURPA in Kaduna State.
“This is not true. No Nigerian Army soldier was involved in the exercise.
“The allegation and the attempt to drag the Nigerian army into issue of demolition is yet another baseless and unsubstantiated claim to malign the hardworking, loyal and professional officers and soldiers of 1 division, Nigerian Army and discredit them.
“Contrary to claims, the troops of 1 division have not been involved in any illegal activity of either harassment of politicians or demolition of their properties in Kaduna and its environs.
“Therefore, this claim remains the highest mischief and misleading and it is viewed as another calculated attempt to distract our troops from performing their professional duties.
“Therefore, the public should disregard such false allegation.”