Kaduna demolishes houses, renders hundreds homeless in Zaria – Guardian Nigeria
•Police feign ignorance as HURIWA alleges killing of house owners by Soldiers
It was a horrifying sight yesterday as Kaduna State Government began demolition of hundreds of houses and other residential buildings at Graceland behind Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Samaru, Zaria.
Many residents were seen wailing and weeping, as they evacuated in a hurry what remained of their properties from the rubbles of demolished houses.
Some lucky ones were able to evacuate some valuables before the bulldozer deployed by the Kaduna State Urban Property Development Authority (KASUPDA), commenced the exercise.
Besides the hues and cries that trailed the demolition, there was also an allegation of the killing of house owners by soldiers deployed to demolition sites, though the Kaduna State Police Command has denied knowledge of the killings and arbitrary shooting by soldiers.
Also, it was learnt that for over 10 years, ownership of the land, where the houses were sited has been a subject of litigation between the communities and the Aviation College.
A resident and eyewitness told The Guardian that since Saturday, “many people have started vacating their area and subsequently removing their valuables to avoid being destroyed.”
Some residents, who also spoke to The Guardian, appealed to the government “to have mercy and consider our situation and assist us”.
The residents said that they acquired the land legally with all the legal documents from the government.
When contacted the state Police spokesman, ASP Mohammed Jalige, said he has not yet received a report on the allegation of shooting by soldiers and death of some of the residents.
“Please, give me a few moments to get to the true situation and I will get back to you,” Jalige said. But at the time of going to press, he was yet to fulfil his promise.
One of the owners in front of his demolished house
Another demolished building
MEANWHILE, civil rights advocacy group, the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), has condemned what it termed extralegal killings of about seven house owners in Graceland neighbourhood near Aviation College, Zaria.
It alleged that the demolition was on the instructions of President Muhammadu Buhari and executed by the Kaduna State Government with impunity and reckless primitive tendencies.
The rights group, in a statement by the National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, and the National Director of Media, Miss Zainab Yusuf, said Kaduna State Government has committed gross crimes against humanity by using crude force employed by the Nigerian Army to displace citizens unlawfully.
“We have it on good authority that so far, seven persons have been killed by soldiers who escorted the demolition squad from the Kaduna State government, which claimed that the exercise was directed by President Muhammadu Buhari to enable the Aviation college to expand her training facilities within their vicinity.
“We wonder which of the legal authorities the President of Nigeria under the Land Use Act of 1978, employed to order the revocation of property rights of citizens, some of whom have worked tirelessly to build the economy of Kaduna State”.
“Our attention was called to the ordeals of an octogenarian, whose house was crudely demolished in Zaria yesterday morning even as he was shoved aside after pleading with the Kaduna State Government that the house was all he has in this life.
“He was physically, psychologically and emotionally tortured and his property demolished without consideration for his age and the fact that he retired as a civil servant after putting in nearly 40 years of his productive life.
“The action of the Kaduna State government is unlawful, unconstitutional, murderous, offensive, despicable and reprehensible. We call on the United Nations, the European Union, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch of New York and all persons of goodwill to condemn these atrocious crimes against humanity by soldiers of the Nigerian Army and to demand efficacious justice for those killed unlawfully.
“We call for the arrest and prosecution of all the operatives and commanders of the Soldiers who directed the killings of innocent citizens whose only offence was seeking to use their persuasive might to defend their property”.
HURIWA cited the provisions of the Grund Norm, saying the brute and illegal action violated Section 33 of the Constitution.
The group stressed that it has resolved to write to the United Nations, European Union and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), to report both the Kaduna and the Federal Government over the extralegal killings of the citizens in Zaria.