There are mixed feelings about the demolition of structures “illegally” erected on public spaces in Kano State, which started Saturday.
Governor Abba Kabir Yusuf, popularly known as Abba Gida-Gida, was reported to have led the exercise.
Daily Trust on Sunday gathered that the governor led the task force he set up in demolishing the structures built in Kano Race Course (Filin Sukuwa) in the early hours of Saturday.
The governor had, in his inauguration speech on Monday, given a marching order to security agencies in the state to immediately take over all public properties sold by the administration of his predecessor, Abdullahi Ganduje.
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“I am announcing today that all these public places and assets that were immorally plundered and sold by the Ganduje administration should be taken over by law enforcement agencies, led by the police, Department of State Security (DSS), Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and Hisbah pending the final decision of government,” he said.
Some of the properties the governor was referring to include “lands in and around schools, religious and cultural sites, hospitals and clinics, graveyards and green areas, and along the city wall of Kano, as well as other landed properties and assets belonging to Kano State within and outside the state, to their cronies and agents.”
He announced that a judicial commission of inquiry would be empanelled in the coming days “to ensure that all perpetrators and those that aided and abetted them are brought to justice.”
Before then, the governor’s party, the New Nigeria People’s Party (NNPP), had promised Kano residents that whenever it gained access to the Government House, it would lead a process of “restoring” Kano’s master plan, which it alleged the administration of Ganduje had bastardised.
It’s act of vendetta – APC
Reacting to the development, the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Kano told Daily Trust on Sunday that the action of the government was a vendetta.
The party’s legal adviser, Abdul Fagge, said the main reason the party considered it as a vendetta was that the property said to have been allocated by the government of Abdullahi Umar Ganduje “were of the same status as those allocated by the previous administration, particularly that of Rabiu Musa Kwankwaso.”
He recalled how from 1999 to 2001, “all the buildings that were opposite BUK Old campus were allocated by Kwankwaso and they carved out the Kano City Wall (Badala).
“Assuming the current governor is doing this (demolition) with the aim of restoring the master plan of Kano, then it behooves on them to demolish all the properties allocated by the Kwankwaso administration,” he said.
He added that one of the demolished properties was owned by an individual or firm, and many of them done on a private-public-partnership (PPP) arrangement while the former governor was exercising his power and right under the constitution and Land Use Act to allocate any land under the jurisdiction of the state.
Developers deserve fair hearing – Don, lawyers
Commenting, a renowned political analyst, Professor Kamilu Sani Fage of the Bayero University, Kano (BUK) said, “Issues like that are supposed to be solved after proper investigation although these areas are well documented, but in terms of fairness, the government should have investigated fully.
“Already, the government has a committee, so let it investigate. Then the government can take actions based on its recommendations. Ideally, the government should stand by its position that people should stop developing the properties. And for fear of vandals, security officials have been ordered by the government to look after these places,” he said.
Fage said the decision was rushed but it might not necessarily be that of vendetta and anger. “You know government is about rational decisions; and you don’t take rational decisions based on few information; you have to thoroughly investigate the issues and take appropriate actions, he said.”
Also commenting, a legal practitioner, Umar Isa Sulaiman, said that since it was a valid and legitimate government that allocated the land to the developers in whatever form of arrangement, procedures should be followed if such allocations are to be revoked.
He said that based on the Land Use Act and other provisions, the government was supposed to first notify the developers, set up a commission of enquiry and let them come up to tell their own version, at least to be fair to them. The principle of fair hearing is clear and sacrosanct all over the world.
He added that since a commission of inquiry had been set up by the governor, developers should be given fair hearing on how they came about their properties, saying, “If the government continues like this, it will give room for people to take laws into their hands. You could see pictures on the social media of people looting this property after the demolition.
“We don’t know how the governor arrived at that decision, but at least the developers have the right to be heard under the principle of fair hearing.”
Another lawyer, who asked not to be named, said that inasmuch as the individual that got the allocation from government had fulfilled all the conditions of the law, such person has the right to develop the property, and when such property is developed, such individual has the right to approach the court of law to challenge this.
It’s fulfillment of campaign promises, more to follow – Governor
The governor, who spoke to Daily Trust on Sunday through his chief press secretary, Sanusi Bature, said the demolition was not in any way an act of vendetta as the opposition party alleged. He said it was the first of many to come, in fulfillment of his campaign promises.
“During the campaigns, the governor promised that Kano would be restored to its lost glory, part of which is the issue of land grabbing, which has been devastating the state. The second layer of this is that we have included this issue of land grabbing into our blueprint. It was made public and people understood that we were going to demolish any illegal structure placed in a public property.
“Thirdly, during the transition period, we issued an advisory that anybody building on a public space should stop, but a lot of people refused. At that time, we didn’t have the executive power to stop anybody; hence we advised. Now that the governor has the executive power to act, he has decided to swing into action immediately, and this was what happened yesterday (Saturday). And this will continue so as to ensure that all public places are reclaimed and safe for public services,” Bature said.
On the allegation of vendetta, Bature said, “This is an issue of public interest. We said it before the election and even after. If it is vendetta we wouldn’t have mentioned it in the public space.
“We said we were going to do this and Kano people were very happy. They were aware that we were going to do this; and they voted for us based on our campaign promises. So, if we don’t do this, we are not fulfilling our promises.”
The governor had on Friday also directed that all land developers at the Hajj Camp to stop immediately. He said this during a visit to the Kano State Pilgrims Camp to see its condition.
“I am appalled that the facility meant to serve as home for intending pilgrims from Kano State and beyond was debased by the immediate past administration, with many plots of land there sold to their cronies,” he said.