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No respite as NAF, Barakallahu land dispute lingers

Barakallahu is a community in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, some five kilometres away from Kaduna main town, along the Kaduna-Zaria Road.  Made…

Barakallahu is a community in Igabi Local Government Area of Kaduna State, some five kilometres away from Kaduna main town, along the Kaduna-Zaria Road. 

Made up of predominantly Hausa and Gbagi natives, the inhabitants claim they have been living in the community since 1984 after their community known as Unguwan Waziri was taken over by the Nigerian Air Force who the community claimed needed additional land during the era of Architect Namadi Sambo.

Unfortunately, a lingering land dispute between the community and the NAF has forced people to relocate from the community for fear of getting their lands revoked and houses demolished.

Several interventions were sought by the community, one of which was the blocking of the Kaduna-Zaria highway by a large number of women in the community to protest the construction of a wall by the Service.

The then governor of Kaduna State, Alhaji Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, had asked the then AOC to look into the matter and a meeting was held between the community and NAF personnel where it was agreed that compensation would be paid and alternative land given. Was the agreement adhered to? Daily Trust takes a look.

According to the Sarkin Samari, Yohanna Waziri, who claimed his father founded the displaced Unguwan Waziri community, one Group Captain Okazibo paid them compensation because he said the land did not belong to the Air force, but the Service needed additional land, and the Zazzau Emirate Council relocated members of the displaced community to Barakallahu.

However, the NAF claims that the whole of Barakallahu and even more vast land belongs to the Service as shown on a service map made available to our correspondent by the Air Officer Commanding, NAF Training Command Kaduna, Air vice Marshal Christopher Okeke.

Mai Anguwa Na Malam, a septuagenarian and member of the community, said “We do not have any ethnic or religious differences in the area. I know because I have lived here for quite a number of years. We have been living peacefully, both Muslims and Christians, maybe some people are jealous of our peaceful coexistence which is why they want to bring disharmony by hook or crook.”

On his part, the Maianguwa Atta, Junaidu Umar, lamented that since an agreement was reached between the NAF and members of the community in a meeting which was conveyed by the then AOC, AVM I. Umar, in January 2013 that compensation would be paid to those originally accessed by the 2008 committee on payment of compensation, nothing has been heard since then.

Elder Sama’ila Waziri, a community member, urged the government and the NAF to fulfill the agreements reached in order to end the dispute.  He also appealed to the NAF to use the river dividing the NAF base from the community as a boundary with a view to bringing back peace between the personnel of the Service and the community, whom he said have enjoyed harmonious relationships.

However, AVM Okeke, while explaining how the Service acquired the land, said “You know during the reign of the late Sardauna of Sokoto, Sir Ahmadu Bello, he would just say he has given land from this place and beyond, not exactly specifying where the land stops and that time, people were not really concerned about documenting such things.

“I can confidently tell you that the land Barakallahu community is located on belongs to the NAF, we have a map as well as several beacons located within and around the community.”

He promised to take up the issue of payment of compensation with the Ministry of Defence (MOD) as a means of ending the lingering problem with its host community. He further called on the Kaduna State Ministry of Lands and Survey to re-survey the land and come up with a map that will interpret parties’ interest and foreclose further encroachments.

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