The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has raised alarm over a seven-day quit notice issued to St. Gregory’s Anglican Church, Sabon Gari, Zaria, by the Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency (KASUPDA).
It was learnt that the quit notice was issued on Wednesday, 18, September to facilitate the development of the Sabon Gari Market, Zaria.
KASUPDA warns that failure to comply with the directives will leave the agency with no option than to forcefully evict the church at its own expense.
The market in question is said to be occupying part of the land belonging to the church, built about 110 years ago.
A copy of the quit notice addressed to No. 27, Church House, Sabon Gari Market, Zaria and made available to journalists reads: “Reference to the directive given by the Executive Governor on the issue of market development which compensation has been duly paid.
”However you are hereby directed to vacate your resident within seven (7) days from now, failure to comply will leave the Agency with no option than to evict you at your own expense. (from 19h – 24 September).”
The zonal head of the agency, who signed the notice on behalf of the zonal manager, did not include his name.
In a statement on Thursday in Kaduna, Rev. Joseph Hayab, the state Chairman of CAN, said the association is alarmed with the quit notice, if it is actually a directive from the governor.
“CAN wishes to draw the attention of the Kaduna State government to a quit notice to St. George’s Anglican Church in Sabon Gari, Zaria.
“The 7-Day Quit Notice by the Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency (KASUPDA) is purported to be a directive from the Executive Governor.
”The notice also claimed that compensation had been duly paid to the church.
“We are alarmed and apprehensive about this, if it is true that it is a directive from the governor. But we doubt much if the governor issued the directive,” Hayab said.
He recalled that in February 2016, the state government made moves to relocate the church to pave the way for the expansion of the market.
He said the government later realised that the church has all valid documents and that even some parts of the market are on the church’s land.
Hayab said following the presentation of the necessary documents by the church, the matter was resolved amicably.
“We wish to state categorically that no compensation was paid to the church.
”Where did the KASUPDA officials get this false information that compensation had been paid? Or are the KASUPDA officials playing a script or are they being used by some faceless trouble entrepreneurs to provoke Christians?
”It should be noted that the church, which was founded about 110 years ago, was liberal enough to allow the market in question to operate in some parts of its land.
“Is it now a crime to be liberal and accommodating? How could the governor revisit the issue which was resolved amicably in 2016, by issuing a seven-day quit notice?
“We suspect that this could be the handiwork of some people who do not mean well for Kaduna State,“ Hayab said.
He called on the governor to immediately investigate the purported quit notice from KASUPDA and take prompt action on the officers involved.
”This will go a long way in allaying fears and apprehension among Christians in the state and the nation at large.
”This unfortunate notice is coming just a few weeks after the alarm about the purported demolition of a mosque in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which, upon investigations, was later confirmed to be false.
”We urge the governor to take a step to avert that kind of situation in Kaduna State,” Hayab said.
However, in his reaction, Special Adviser to Governor Nasir el-Rufai on Media and Communication, Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye, said he was not aware of the notice.
”I am not aware of the notice you are talking about. What I know, and is a fact that is very much in the public domain, is that the Kaduna State Government is redeveloping and expanding markets, including the Sabon-Gari market,” Adekeye said.