Eviction order on 100-year-old church in Kaduna unsettles CAN

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This is indeed unsettled time for Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) as the Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency has purportedly served the 100-year-old St. George Anglican Church a seven-day eviction notice.

The notice, which the agency said came from the governor, Mr. Nasir el-Rufai claimed that compensation had been duly paid to the church.

Punch reports that the notice, which was not dated, was addressed to the church located at House No. 27, Church House, Sabon Gari Market, Zaria.

The notice reads: “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.

Consequently, CAN chairman in the state, Rev. Joseph Hayab raised the alarm about the eviction order handed down to one churches.

Hayab, in a statement faulted the eviction order saying the notice was suspect.

He argued that such an order could not have emanated from the governor.

In a statement entitled ‘Governor Nasir el-Rufai should call KASUPDA to order’, CAN said in part: “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,” he said.

The CAN chairman 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.

In his reaction, media aide to the governor, Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye denied knowledge of the quit notice served on the church.

“What I know and as 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.”

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