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Kaduna Demolition Saga: One dead as Gbagyi Villa youths, landlords keep 24-hour vigil

…Some vow to die there, if…

by Achadu Gabriel, Kaduna

Governor Nasir el-Rufai of Kaduna State

Youths and landlords in Gbagyi Villa of Sabon Tasha, Chikun LGA of Kaduna State, who are facing demolition, are on 24 hours’ vigil, waiting to repel el-Rufai-led Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Authority (KASUPDA), over demolition it commenced Monday.

KASUPDA, in company of fully armed security operatives had stormed the area around 3pm on Monday and commenced demolition of the buildings and churches but were vehemently resisted by the youths of the area.

Our correspondent, who went round the affected areas Tuesday, confirmed that a woman died during the invasion.

An uncompleted mighty church building was broken by the bulldozer during the demolition by the government agency, while some fences, garages and other business premises were also badly damaged.

A man and owner of another church building located outside the Kaduna Polytechnic fence, waiting in front of the church, vowed that he’ll die there, if anybody come and touch his church building, because he will kill the person instantly.

The fair completion man, who spoke in anonymity, said he has already bayed bye to his family before he left house yesterday and told them that they should not worry, if he did not come back again.

“I was here yesterday when they came and I told them here that, if they touch this building, I will kill the person, but they said it’s the fence, and they brought it down, as you can see,” he furiously stated.

It was learnt that one woman, however, reportedly died following the invasion of Gbagyi Villa for demolition by KASUPDA, on Monday, as directed by Governor Nasir El-Rufai, just less than seven days to the end of his tenure.

Recalled that Gbagyi Villa community had a standing final judgment from a Kaduna High Court against Kaduna State Government, KASUPDA and their agents.

It was also gathered that when KASUPDA stormed Gbagyi Villa Tuesday with fully armed uniform men, the youths – both from Gbagyi Villa and environments – came out in large numbers to resist the demolition, since there is a court judgment in favour of the community. 

“The uniform men started shooting to scare away the resilient youths, but they were adamant,” eyewitness said. 

According to sources, on hearing the news of the demolition and the gunshots, a woman – simply identified as “Sarah,” reportedly collapsed, as her blood pressure was believed to have shot up, since she was said to have blood pressure (BP) issues. 

“She was rushed to the hospital for medical attention, but unfortunately, she couldn’t make it, as the report reaching us had it that she has given up a day before the time of filing this report.

However, youths that massively came out vowed to take their lives into their hands to defend the community and defend the court judgment, “if the authority that is supposed to defend the judgment is now rising against the community in total disobedience to the judgment.”

Though, some houses had been demolished, while the youths were resisting, but eventually the resilient youths prevailed and KASUPDA and their security men retreated – with a promise to return.

One of the residents, who simply identified himself as “Haruna,” who spoke with journalist, lamented that “The same government that imposed hard time on the masses is now out to round off by causing more havoc in destroying the little roof we have over our heads.” 

He added that, “Following the court judgment in favour of Gbagyi Villa community, El-Rufai asked us to fill a form for ‘regularization’ at the cost of N20,000 and which majority had done that. 

“Again, just about ten days ago, KASUPDA brought a letter that El-Rufai had ordered that all building approvals obtained before the court case is null and void, asking us to go and start fresh building approval processes from beginning, with new building plan reading date not earlier than the month of May, 2023.

“He gave us sixty days to start the process through KASUPDA, and we are ready to comply; as we have visited the KASUPDA to commence the fresh process of approval for our houses, including those who had prior approval, but KASUPDA officials said the forms are not yet ready.

“It is not yet sixty days, based on the notice KASUPDA gave us, and we didn’t even say we are not ready to abide by the obnoxious policy just to keep peace. They are the people that are not even ready with the forms needed; yet, this afternoon the same Kaduna State Government, through the same KASUPDA invaded Gbagyi Villa and started demolition of houses.

“If not that we took our lives into our hands and resisted, with the support of youths from the other communities around, it would have been history now; though they still vowed to come back for the demolition exercises.

“See now, an innocent law abiding woman, managing her BP, had been sent to her untimely grave! Why? Why? Why? Must APC just be about inflicting unbearable pains on the masses?” he concluded.

The governor, at the beginning of the tenure in 2015, invaded Gbagyi Villa and vowed to demolish the over 3,500 houses and 40 churches already built in the community. 

“The Landlord Association took the matter before a court of competent jurisdiction and won the case after about seven years in court. Also, many organizations (both within and outside the country), including but not limited to Amnesty International intervened on the side of the community.

“Even House of Representatives Committee also intervened on behalf of the community, but unfortunately, this is happening again at the end of the tenure of El-Rufai, provoking the unprovoked peaceful people of Gbagyi Villa, few days to handing-over when government supposed to sue for peace, considering the tension in the country,” he lamented.

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