Senate condemns action
John Shiklam in Kaduna and Damilola Oyedele in Abuja
The secretariat of a faction of the All Progressives Congress (APC) led by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi has been demolished by the Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KAPSUDA).
The demolition was said to have taken place around 4a.m. yesterday.
Hunkuyi represents Kaduna North senatorial district in the senate. His faction of the APC and Governor Nasir El-Rufaiâ€™s faction have been engaging in political brickbats with one faction suspending the other.
Last Thursday, the Hunkuyi faction queried El-Rufai and suspended two of his aides for 18 months for alleged anti-party activities.
The faction which claimed to be the authentic faction had also announced the relocation of the state secretariat of the party from Ali Akilu road in Kaduna to No. 11B Sambo road also in Kaduna.
El-Rufai was later to be suspended by the faction for six months for alleged anti-party and â€œanti-human activities.â€
However, last Friday, the governorâ€™s faction swiftly responded by suspending Hunkuyi and 28 of his supporters for six and 18 months respectively for creating a parallel secretariat â€œwith intention to factionalise the party…â€
An aide of Hukunyi, Dr. Abdulrahman Usman, told THISDAY in a telephone interview that soldiers blocked the two entrances leading to the building while the demolition was going on.
However, in a statement, KAPSUDA said the building was demolished for alleged flagrant violation of land use and non-payment of ground rent since 2010.
The statement signed by the Director-General of Kaduna Geographic Information Service (KADGIS), Ibrahim Husseini, said people in the neighbourhood who were distressed were being forced to endure an influx of thugs and blockage of the road.
He disclosed that the statutory right of occupancy of the land has been revoked and re-allocated to KASUPDA for developing and maintaining a public park for recreation in the area.
Husseini said KAPSUDA and other sister agencies were currently undertaking operations across Kaduna metropolis in compliance with its mandate by clearing illegal structures, tackling street hawking and restoring order across Kaduna.
According to the agency, â€œThis morning, a building on 11B Sambo Close was removed for flagrant violations of land use and non-payment of ground rent since 2010
â€œThis illegal violation of use had begun to distress neighbours who were being forced to endure an influx of thugs and blockage of the road.
â€œThe KADGIS issued a revocation notice of statutory right of occupancy No. KD. 16712, that covers 11B Sambo Close in the Ungwan Rimi area.
â€œThe appropriate notice of revocation was delivered at 28 Inuwa Wada road, the registered address of the company that held the title to the property
â€œThe notice was also delivered to the building in question, and sent by post to the registered address of the previous title holder.
â€œThe 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.
â€œKADGIS wishes to remind all title owners to be serious in complying with the terms of their allocation. The purpose of allocation of land cannot be willfully altered; neither can title holders lawfully neglect to pay their ground rents.â€
Husseini said: â€œSince 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.â€
He said further that the KADGIS, as the government agency charged with the responsibility of handling land matters in the state, is calling on members of the public for maximum cooperation with all the agencies.
Although Hunkuyi could not be reached on telephone, however in his reaction to the incident on his twitter handle, he said El-Rufai â€œcannot stand political pressure without resorting to being a ruthless dictator.
He alleged that the governor personally drove the bulldozer that pulled down the house.
Hunkuyi alleged further that El-Rufai had months ago marked his residence in Hunkuyi town, Kudan Local Government Area of the state for demolition.
He said residents of the area prevented officials from carrying out the demolition.
The senator said El-Rufai has descended to such low level of pettiness and fighting dirty.
â€œIn the early hours of today, the governor of Kaduna State, El-Rufai, personally drove a bulldozer accompanied by armored tanks to destroy my house at 11B Sambo Road. This is a new low and fighting dirty with such low level of pettiness is indeed unprecedented in the state.
â€œIt is on record that few months back, El-Rufai marked another property of mine in Hunkuyi town for demolition but residents of the area prevented the officials from demolishing it.
â€œToday, he came well prepared with military men to destroy my house at Sambo Road.
â€œThis is also the same way El-Rufai destroyed the house of the APC Deputy National Chairman Northwest, Alhaji Inuwa Abdulkadir, months back, which tells you that the governor is reckless, petty and canâ€™t stand political pressure, without resorting to being a ruthless dictator,â€ Hunkuyi said on his twitter handle
Meanwhile the Senate yesterday condemned the demolition of the APC secretariat in Kaduna, over the feud between El-Rufai and Hunkuyi.
The building owned by Hunkuyi, was demolished in the early hours of yesterday for being in contravention as a residence converted to other purposes (as a party secretariat).
Senator Shehu Sani, raising a point of order, said the demolition of the building allegedly on the orders of the el-Rufai, is meant to silence anyone who opposes the governor.
Sani, who represents Kaduna Central is also engaged in a running battle with el-Rufai, and has been a very vocal critic of the governor and his policies.
He accused the governor of being dictatorial, and fond of deploying police and military personnel to harass and intimidate dissenting voices.
â€œHow can a governor, a democratically elected governor, demolish a house without notice, simply for the fact that we have set up an office different from the one he had personalised himself as a so-called party man,â€ Sani said.
He further alleged that el-Rufai is taking advantage of his perceived closeness to President Muhammadu Buhari, to unleash a reign of terror on the people of the state in a despicable and irresponsible manner.
â€œGovernor Nasir el-Rufai is an infliction to the people of kaduna state and a curse to us,â€ Sani said.
The senator called on the president to â€œcaution his beloved sonâ€ and nip the crises in the bud, before it metamorphoses into bigger crises.
The point of order was not subjected to debate as is legislative practice.
Presiding, the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, said the development is condemnable, adding that the rule of law must be followed in a democracy.
â€œIf we have any kind of grievance, that grievance should be settled in the law court and not using force or the weight of our office. I believe this is one of the reason why Nigerians are opposed to issue of immunity especially for chief executives.
â€œThis is something we need to watch, as we head toward 2019, we must appeal to politicians not to over heat the system and then imperil our democracy. There is a limit to the patience of our people. â€œThis should be the last of this kind of incidence 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,â€ Ekweremadu said.
He expressed hope that the governor would rebuild the building or pay adequate compensation to the senator.
Hunkuyi, briefing newsmen on the matter, said the demolition of his property is a small price to pay for his role in the election of el-Rufai as the Kaduna State.
â€œI should be one of the people to bear the consequences of bringing el-Rufai. It is not too much of a price to pay,â€ Hunkuyi said.
Both men who were allies, had fallen out over what Hunkuyi said were policies of the governor, which were not favourable to the people.
Hunkuyi recalled that he was the Chairman of El-Rufaiâ€™s campaign committee, and had contributed immensely to his emergence and electoral victory.
â€œAt that same property, which he has demolished, was where we started clamouring for support for people to elect him,â€ he said.
Hunkuyi described the demolition of his property as bizzare, rare, unimaginable but said he has already forgiven the governor.