Iyobosa Uwugiaren in Abuja and John Shiklam in Kaduna
Kaduna State Governor, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, tightened the noose on opposition elements in his ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) on Wednesday, when he slammed a 30-day ultimatum on the party’s factional leader, Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi, to pay N30.4 million as ground rent for his private residence in Kaduna, the state capital.
The levy came barely a day after another property of Hunkuyi at 11B, Sambo Road, Kaduna hosting the secretariat of a faction of the party in the state was demolished by the Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KAPSUDA).
KAPSUDA had on Tuesday carried out the demolition, alleging that the state’s land use laws were violated. It also alleged that ground rents on the property had not been paid since 2010.
As the action attracted widespread condemnation, the governor’s Special Adviser on Politics and Inter Party Affairs, Malam Uba Sani, addressed newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday and asked those aggrieved by the demolition to go to court for redress.
According to a demand notice, which was also posted by Hunkuyi on his twitter handle, the fresh N30.4 million levy is to be paid within 30 days.
The notice, however, did not state what would happen if the money was not paid within the stipulated time.
The house in issue is located at 18A, Inuwa Wada Road, Gabasawa, Anguwan Rimi GRA, Kaduna.
Hunkuyi, who represents Kaduna North Senatorial District in the Senate, has been having a running battle with el-Rufai following differences in political views.
Hunkuyi described the bill as ridiculous.
The demand notice, dated February 20, 2018 and signed by the Director General of the Kaduna Geographic Information Services (KADGIS), indicated that the ground rent was for a period of 24 years, 1995 to 2018.
It read: “You are, therefore, requested to pay a total of N31,467,861.60. You are also expected to pay this amount at any commercial bank into the KADGIS PAY Direct platform.
“This bill should be settled within 30 days please.”
Reacting to the notice, Hunkuyi said: “Once again, the governor of Kaduna State, Malam Nasir El-Rufai, has sent a ridiculous bill to me for a purported ground rent of my personal house at Inuwa Wada to the tune of N30million to be paid within 30 days, failure to do so might probably result to another demolition like he did on my other property.”
In Abuja, however, el-Rufai’s political adviser, Sani, spoke to the media and insisted that the demolition of Hunkuyi’s property on Tuesday was in accordance with extant law of the state.
Subsequently, he asked anyone aggrieved by the demolition to approach the court for redress.
Insisting that the owner of the demolished building refused to comply with notices requesting the payment of ground rents and recertification fee, he argued that the building was liable to be removed in accordance with the law.
Wondering about the fuss over the demolition he said: “In the course of on-going reform in the urban centre, many illegal structures have been pulled down, including those owned by the poor. How come nobody protested on their behalf? Is it because they don’t have access to newspapers, radio and television stations?”
Justifying the demolition of the building located at 11b Sambo Road and used by some aggrieved members of APC, Sani said that some politicians were out to create a scenario to weep up political sentiments for their selfish political agenda, saying the state government had no regret over its action.
He refuted the claim that the Kaduna State branch of APC was factionalised, saying the over 7,100 officials of the party, from the unit to ward, local and state levels, were with the Alhaji Shuaibu Idris-led state executive, which is recognised by the national leadership of the party in Abuja.
KAPSUDA had in a statement signed by its Director-General, Alhaji Ibrahim Husseini, said the demolition was part of the operations the agency was undertaking across Kaduna metropolis in compliance with its mandate.
According to him, “In partnership with sister agencies, KASUPDA is clearing illegal structures, tackling street hawking and restoring order across Kaduna; this morning, 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 agency said it duly served the occupants of the building a notice of revocation, in line with the requirement of the law, which they did not respond to.
KASUPDA added: “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.”
KASUPDA said the land had now been allocated to KASUPDA for the purpose of developing and maintaining a public park that would provide a green area and a serene place for recreation in that residential neighbourhood.
The senator representing Kaduna Central, Senator Shehu Sani, had said the demolition was masterminded by el-Rufai.