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Kaduna teachers, others protest alleged annexation of houses

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Some of the affected buildings

Secondary school teachers in Kaduna State have petitioned Governor Nasir El-rufai for alleged government reallocation of their residential houses to private individuals and other cronies.

Specifically, teachers of Government College, Kaduna said many people have stormed their residential apartments in Kurumashi with government re-allocation documents, asking them to vacate their houses.

The petition was also on the heels of complaints by some owners of houses located in Government Reserved Areas (GRAs) in Ungwar Rimi, Malali and other parts of the metropolis who raised the alarm that their plots were reallocated to families those in power.

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In the petition, dated March 9, 2021 and signed by 27 teachers of Government College, the protesters urged El-Rufai to immediately intervene and ensure that “justice and fair play prevail”, just as “our rights to be first offered the purchase of the houses we occupy for years is under serious threat of violation”.

They said:  “We are civil servants and legal occupants of the government houses within the vicinity of the college.

“Sometimes last week, we saw people coming to our houses with letters of offer, claiming that our houses have been offered to them for purchase.

“This has caused palpable fear of being rendered homeless. We have occupied these houses for years, from where we have made and are still making our modest contributions to the educational needs and growth of the society,” the letter added.

Besides, in a letter by the Kaduna State Government Committee on sale of government residential quarters and signed by Alexander Suleiman, on behalf of the Chairman, he explained that “ I am directed to notify the Commissioner that 27 houses occupied by staff of the ministry of education, have been valued and offered to some  members of the public for purchase”.

The letter, tagged “Sale of Senior Staff Quarters occupied by Staff of Ministry of Education along College Road axis, Kaduna”, further stated: “This decision was necessitated in view of the dilapidation of the structures and the cost implication of renovating them.

“It has therefore become expedient to dispose of the houses under reference, as they do not fall under the category of essential.”

Some other property owners in the state have also released documents of their plots that were reallocated to journalists through the Kaduna chapter of Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) platform.

The aggrieved land owners in Ungwar Rimi, Malali and other parts of the metropolis, accused Governor El-Rufai to have allegedly reallocated the plots to his family members and friends.

However, the spokesman for the governor, Muyiwa Adekeye, has debunked the allegations.

Muyiwa said El-Rufai directed that Kaduna Geographic Information Services (KADGIS) should allocate plots of land to as many government workers and citizens who demonstrated active interest by applying.

In a statement he issued yesterday, he said: “Rare is the public function during which guests from the private and public sectors are not actively invited by KDSG to apply for land in Kaduna State”, adding that “the state is being actively positioned as a lower cost alternative to Abuja for active workers, and a cheaper retirement option for senior citizens.

“This active canvassing of land applications is connected to a desire for accelerated development of allocated plots.

Plots have been revoked from persons who have held on to them for years without developing them. Many of these plots in prime areas are being reallocated to individuals and corporate bodies with a strict mandate to develop them within one year.”

He added; “Plots in the Millennium City are also being actively allocated as part of the deliberate focus on fast-tracking the development of the eastern sector of Kaduna metropolis.

“KDSG has also sold 2,028 of its non-essential residential houses, 80 per cent  of which were bought by civil servants who were the sitting tenants in the houses. All the houses were sold by competitive bids, based on their open market value.

“KDSG has been made aware of attempts to put a needless stain on its intensive efforts to develop the state.  It has happened before. As Minister of the FCT, Malam Nasir El-Rufai allocated 27,000 plots to applicants, some of whom had waited for decades. He promoted the accelerated development programme which took land from speculators and allocated to those ready to develop them within set times. He supervised the sales of 30,000 government houses, enabling many federal civil servants to own houses.”

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He said: “After his tenure as FCT Minister, there were attempts to question his powers as minister to allocate plots as lists, including any person with Rufai in their surnames, were circulated to smear him and his record in democratising access to plots of land and houses in Abuja. The Yar’Adua and Jonathan governments later used that as the basis for criminal prosecution. That ended in emphatic acquittal by the courts which upheld the power of the Minister of the FCT to allocate and revoke plots of land.

“Land, whether in Abuja, Kaduna or anywhere else, is a valuable asset which assists development only when used. Its allocation should be based on clear rules that assure equal outcomes to all who meet the criteria, whatever their names, filial affiliations or other status might be. Applying for, securing and paying for a plot of land whose development the allottee must accelerate is a positive transaction.

“KDSG is proud of the quality and number of persons who have applied for land in Kaduna. It is concrete evidence that major investments in improving this city are being noted and embraced. However, those who seek scandal should not defame persons who have applied for land, who will pay the premium for the plot allocated to them and develop them according to set deadlines.”

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