By Ayodele Oluwafemi
The Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Kaduna State Chapter has raised alarm over a 7-day quit notice, allegedly directed by the Governor Nasiru El-Rufai to demolish one of the oldest Anglican churches in the country located in Zaria, Kaduna State.
CAN noted the church, St. George’s Anglican Church in Sabon Gari, Zaria was founded about 110 years ago and has the valid documents.
CAN observed that the church had in the past given out part of its land for a market and that it was now an irony that the government was planning to demolish the historic church to expand the market.
CAN, in a statement, by its Kaduna State chairman, Rev. Joseph Hayab, on Thursday stated that the quit notice by the Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency (KASUPDA) indicated that compensation was duly paid to the church, whereas there was nothing of such.
The Christian body said that, part of the quit notice indicated that “Reference to the directive given by the Executive Governor on the issue of Market development which compensation has been dually paid. However, you are hereby directed to vacate your residence 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 body, however, urged Governor Nasiru Ahmed El-Rufai to immediately investigate the purported quit notice from KASUPDA and take prompt action in order to allay fears and apprehension among the Christian communities in the state.
Part of the statement reads that:
“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. The Quit Notice, which was not dated, was addressed to: House No. 27, Church House, Sabon Gari Market, Zaria which in the actual sense is St George’s 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.
“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 has all valid documents and that even some parts of the market are on the Church’s 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 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 7-day quit notice?
We suspect that this could be the handiwork of some people who do not mean well for Kaduna State.
“This unfortunate notice is coming just 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 step to avert that kind of situation in Kaduna State.”