The Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria has raised the alarm over a purported eviction order handed down to one of its churches in Zaria, Kaduna State.
The Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency allegedly served the 100-year-old St. George Anglican Church, Sabon Gari, Zaria, the seven-day notice which it claimed was a directive from the state governor.
The notice also claimed that compensation had been duly paid to the church. The notice, which was not dated, was addressed to House No. 27, Church House, Sabon Gari Market, Zaria which in the actual sense, is St George’s Church.
It read, “Reference to the directive given by the Executive Governor on the issue of market development which compensation has been duly paid.
“However you are hereby directed to vacate your residence within seven days from now, failure to comply will leave the agency with no option but evict you at your own expense (from 19h – 24 September).”
The signatory of the notice did not include his name, but it was signed by the “Zonal head” of KASUPDA on behalf of the “Zonal Manager.”
It was gathered that the agency planned to pull down the structures to pave way for the expansion of the Sabon Gari Market.
But the state CAN chairman, Rev. Joseph Hayab, in a statement on Thursday in Kaduna, faulted the eviction order.
Hayab noted that the notice was suspect. According to him, such an order wouldn’t have emanated from the governor of the state, Malam Nasir el-Rufai.
Though in 2016, the chairman claimed the state had made such moves to relocate the church to pave way for the expansion of the market but later realised that the church had all valid documents.
The chairman in the statement entitled, “Governor Nasir el-Rufai should call KASUPDA to order,” partly stated, “We are alarmed and apprehensive about this, if it is true that it is a directive from the governor. But we doubt much if the governor issued the directive.
“This is because in February 2016, the government made moves to relocate the church to pave way for the expansion of the market, but later realised that the church had all valid documents and that even some parts of the market were on the church land.
“Following the presentation of the necessary documents by the church, the matter was resolved amicably. We wish to state categorically that no compensation was paid to the church.
“Where did the KASUPDA officials get this false information that compensation had been paid?
“Or are the KASUPDA officials playing a script or are they being used by some faceless trouble entrepreneurs to provoke Christians?
“It should be noted that the church which was founded about 100 years ago, was liberal enough to allow the market in question to operate in some parts of its land. Is it now a crime to be liberal and accommodating?
“How could the governor revisit the issue which was resolved amicably in 2016, by issuing a seven-day quit order. We suspect that this could be the handiwork of some people who do not mean well for Kaduna State.”
The CAN leader also called on the governor to immediately investigate the purported quit order from KASUPDA and take prompt action on the officers involved.
“This will go a long way in allaying fears and apprehension among Christians in the state and the nation at large.
Special Adviser to Governor Nasir El-Rufai on Media and Communication, Mr Muyiwa Adekeye, said he was not aware of the quit notice order to the church.
He said, “I am not aware of the notice you are talking about (church). What I know and is a fact that is very much in the public domain is that the Kaduna State Government is redeveloping and expanding markets, including the Sabon-Gari market.”