Kano: Injustice of K/Na’isa plots revocation
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
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