Kano: In­jus­tice of K/Na’isa plots re­vo­ca­tion

Daily Trust - - OPINION - By Ado Umar Muham­mad

One of the first of­fi­cial du­ties per­formed by Engr. Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso a few hours af­ter tak­ing oath of of­fice for his sec­ond term as gover­nor of Kano state on May 29th, 2011 was re­vok­ing the 1,000 plots al­lo­cated to in­di­vid­u­als by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment at the Ko­far Na’isa new lay­out and mar­shalling bull­doz­ers to the place for the de­mo­li­tion of some new struc­tures. In fact, some peo­ple al­leged that he per­son­ally drove one of the bull­doz­ers to un­der­take the task him­self.

Un­for­tu­nately, whether he in­tended it or not, his ac­tion in­evitably pro­vided the im­pe­tus for hood­lums to shortly af­ter­wards em­bark on acts of brig­andage and in­dis­crim­i­nate loot­ing of hun­dreds of used and un­used ce­ment blocks scat­tered by the bull­doz­ers, as well as large quan­ti­ties of sands, gran­ite stones and other build­ing ma­te­ri­als be­long­ing to the hap­less plot own­ers.

The new gover­nor was of course ful­fill­ing his prom­ise of raz­ing the place to the ground which he made dur­ing the elec­tion­eer­ing cam­paigns. He had al­legedly said dur­ing a po­lit­i­cal rally at the site that if he won the elec­tion letters of grant for the plots, si­t­u­ated in a strate­gic area of the town, “would be as worth­less as the pa­pers in which tsire (shish ke­bab) is sold”!

How­ever, let us look at the ge­n­e­sis. Ini­tially owned by the Bri­tish colo­nial gov­ern­ment and be­queathed to the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment af­ter in­de­pen­dence in 1960, the land was used for the erec­tion of sev­eral py­lons to serve the Ko­far Dan’agundi power re­lay sta­tion for the de­funct Elec­tric­ity Cor­po­ra­tion of Nige­ria (ECN, later re­named NEPA/PHCN). The de­ci­sion to hand it over to the state gov­ern­ment was prob­a­bly be­cause it was no longer func­tional.

The then gover­nor is known to have ear­lier asked for the land to be re­leased to the state dur­ing his first term (1999-2003). If he was obliged by the FG, most cer­tainly he would have been the one to have al­lo­cated it to his po­lit­i­cal as­so­ci­ates and cronies. That it was not given dur­ing his time, there­fore, ex­plains his strong an­tag­o­nism to the han­dover at a time the gov­ern­ment was con­trolled by his po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents.

The plots were

in

five cat­e­gories; GRA, medium den­sity, high den­sity, com­mer­cial and public spa­ces - which in­cluded ar­eas for the con­struc­tion of schools, mosques, clin­ics, play­grounds and car­wash shades. The car­wash shades were in­cluded in due con­sid­er­a­tion of the scores of un­em­ployed youths who had for years been earn­ing their liv­ing by wash­ing ve­hi­cles in the area. Now that the pro­ject has not ma­te­ri­al­ized, they have since been asked to va­cate the place.

Ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the plots were em­i­nent tra­di­tional rulers in­clud­ing the highly re­spected Emir of Kano, the late Al­haji Ado Bayero and about 50 of his Dis­trict Heads, state com­mis­sion­ers, spe­cial ad­vis­ers, top gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, politi­cians, prom­i­nent cit­i­zens, and a few of­fi­cials at the fed­eral level; mostly in­di­genes of the state. The gov­ern­ment raked in mil­lions of Naira as each ben­e­fi­ciary paid in­fras­truc­tural and other fees rang­ing from about N150,000. The sum of N5,000 each was also paid for ap­pli­ca­tion and cadas­tral fees re­spec­tively, and N500 for the ap­pli­ca­tion form.

How­ever, as the deal in­curred the wrath of the new helms­man and was re­voked as promised, one would have thought jus­tice de­mands that due process should have been al­lowed to take its full course. Af­ter all, since the re­turn of civil rule in 1999 our po­lit­i­cal lead­ers at fed­eral and state lev­els have al­ways pur­ported to be prac­tic­ing democ­racy and ob­serv­ing the rule of law in gov­ern­ing this coun­try.

In point of fact, Sec­tion 28 of the Land Use Act pro­vides that “ad­e­quate com­pen­sa­tion” should be granted for land ac­quired by gov­ern­ment from in­di­vid­u­als or cor­po­rate bod­ies for the pur­pose of public use. De­spite that, how­ever, ei­ther as a re­sult of vengeance, ig­no­rance of the law or both, none of the ben­e­fi­cia­ries, in­clud­ing those that have lost prop­er­ties at the site, was in any way com­pen­sated. Nei­ther were the amounts they paid re­funded to them.

Nev­er­the­less, there were re­ports that one or two of the plot own­ers took the mat­ter to court shortly af­ter the de­mo­li­tion. They were the ones hard­est hit by the gover­nor’s ac­tion be­cause they had ear­lier pur­chased more plots from other ben­e­fi­cia­ries, mo­bi­lized to site and be­gan con­struc­tion work. But lit­tle or noth­ing has been heard about the case since then. It is there­fore not clear to the public whether or not the mat­ter has been set­tled out of court.

Mean­while, the site which has since been cleared and fenced was ini­tially pro­posed for the con­struc­tion of a sta­dium, although a sign­post now sug­gests that some con­trap­tion called “Kano City Tower at ‘Mama’ Site” is in the off­ing. It can also be as­sumed that the Land Use Act, which states clearly that such plots can only be re­voked if they are to be used for public use, pre­vented the for­mer gover­nor from al­lo­cat­ing them to other peo­ple. But de­spite the mad rush to be­gin some­thing there con­struc­tion work was some­how stalled and to­day it is one of the many un­com­pleted projects left (like all other un­re­solved is­sues) to the dis­cre­tion of the cur­rent gover­nor.

At this junc­ture, there­fore, I wish to pas­sion­ately ap­peal to Gover­nor Ab­dul­lahi Umar Gan­duje to please, in the spirit of the times her­alded by APC’s ‘change’ mantra, re­visit the case so as to en­sure that jus­tice is done to all con­cerned. As a man said to be ma­ture and com­pas­sion­ate, who is de­void of haugh­ti­ness and vin­dic­tive­ness, we ex­pect him to be fair to all the peo­ple of Kano State ir­re­spec­tive of po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences and other mun­dane con­sid­er­a­tions. Oth­er­wise, the oath he has sworn to on as­sump­tion of of­fice to do just that ab­so­lutely obliges him.

Ado is for­mer Per­mSec , Spe­cial Ser­vices & Coun­cil Af­fairs Di­rec­torate, Kano <aumo21@ ya­hoo.com <mailto:aumo21@ ya­hoo.com

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