The Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has raised alarm over a purported eviction order handed down to one of its churches in Sabon Gari area of Zaria.
The Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency (KASUPDA) had allegedly served the 100-year-old St. George Anglican Church a seven-day notice which it claimed was a directive from the state governor, Malam Nasir El-Rufai.
The notice, which was not dated and addressed to House No. 27, Church House, Sabon Gari Market, Zaria which is where St George’s Church is located also claimed that compensation had been duly paid to the church.
“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 residence within seven days from now, failure to comply will leave the agency with no option but evict you at your own expense (from 19 – 24 September),” the letter signed by the Zonal Head of KASUPDA on behalf of the Zonal Manager read in part.
Apparently, the agency plans to pull down the structures to pave way for the expansion of the Sabon Gari Market.
Responding to the development, the Kaduna State Chairman of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Rev. Joseph Hayab in a statement issued on Thursday in Kaduna faulted the eviction order, noting that it was suspicious.
According to Hayab, such an order should not have emanated from the governor of the state.
The CAN Chairman noted the state had in 2016 made moves to relocate the church to pave way for the expansion of the market but later realized that the church had all valid documents.
The statement titled ‘Governor Nasir El-Rufai Should Call KASUPDA To Order’ read in part: “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.
“This is because in February 2016, the government made moves to relocate the church to pave way for the expansion of the market but later realized that the church had all valid documents and that even some parts of the market were on the church land.
“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 100 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 order. We suspect that this could be the handiwork of some people who do not mean well for Kaduna State.”
The CAN leader further called on El-Rufai to immediately investigate the purported quit order from KASUPDA and take prompt action on the officers involved as it would go a long way in allaying the fears and apprehension among Christians in the state and the nation at large.