John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) yesterday said the Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency (KASUPDA) was yet to officially communicate its decision to rescind the demolition notice issued to St. Gregory’s Anglican Church, Sabon Gari, Zaria.
The Chairman of Kaduna CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab made the claim in a statement he issued in reaction to reports quoting the Director-General of KASUPDA, Mr. Ismail Dikko that the 110-year-old cathedral would not be demolished as planned.
In his statement, Hayab claimed that the KASUPDA was yet to officially communicate its decision to the church.
He explained that the Dikko was quoted to have said the church “will not be demolished to create space for the expansion of the Sabon Gari Market, Zaria. This is a good development if the reports in the media are anything to go by.
“But it must be noted that KASUPDA has not officially communicated this position to the church. We urged the agency to officially communicate the church. When the agency issued the quit notice, it did not go to the media to announce it, it wrote to the church.
“If KASUPDA has changed its decision, we think the appropriate thing to do, is to write the church. It is not enough to announce on the pages of newspapers that the decision has been rescinded,” the CAN leader said.
The association also faulted assertions by the KASUPDA director general that the church “does not have Certificate of Occupancy. The church have three Certificates of Occupancy – the first one in 1912, the second in 1964 and the third one in 1989. And the title documents are all intact.
“We are law abiding people and we know that our documents are valid. Maybe, something is wrong somewhere with the records at KASUPDA. But we shall go to their office to show them our documents so that this matter is settled once and for all,” Hayab explained.
However, Hayab commended the state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai for taking prompt action on the matter, saying the governor may have called KASUPDA to order.
He said: “We commend the state governor for acting promptly on this matter. We believed that the governor may have called KASUPDA to order over the issue.
“Leadership is about listening to the people, leaders should always endeavour to listen to the views and opinions of the people and communicate well with them to avoid unnecessary misunderstanding and friction.
“We will continue to pray for our leaders so that they will continue to listen and interface with the people because that is what democracy is all about.”
KASUPDA had Tuesday issued a seven-day quit notice to the church to vacate its premises to pave way for the expansion of the Sabon Gari market, Zaria.
The agency had claimed that it was acting on the directives of the state governor, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai.
But Special Adviser to the governor on Media and Communication, Muyiwa Adekeye had in a reaction denied knowledge of the quit notice, though acknowledged that the Kaduna State Government had started redeveloping and expanding markets, including the Sabon-Gari market.
Consequently, the Christian body had decried the demolition notice, noting that even the market in question “is operating in a part of the land belonging to the church which was built in 1908.”
KASUPDA may have rescinded its decision following the apprehension generated by the quit notice. In February 2016, a similar attempt was made by the state government to relocate the church for the expansion of the market.
Reports quoted Dikko saying the church “will remain based on its historical value. Also, we noticed the church does not have certification, that is, the C of O. However, market is a public facility, but looking at it, the church’s history supersedes the market.
“In light of the above, the church will remain while the market will source for expansion elsewhere.”