3 Dead, 100 Houses Demolished Over Disputed ‘Royal’ Land in Zaria
AREWA AGENDA – At least three persons are reported to have died and over hundred houses crushed to rubles following an overnight demolition near edi-l bare bari in Zaria by men of the Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency, KASUPDA.
Zazzau Emirate is divided into four ruling house which include the Bare-bari, Mallawa, Sullubawa and Katsinawa house respectively. Years ago, any reigning Emir from each of the ruling house in Zaria had a special land set aside for them to perform Eid prayers and the current land under dispute is being claimed by the direct descendants of His Royal Highness, Emir Jafar ibn Ishaq who reigned between 1936 -1959 from the Bare-bari ruling house.
Victims of the incidence have claimed that the action by KASUPDA did not follow due process in line with laid down legal procedure for such exercise.
“They just appeared suddenly and started marking the houses on 6th July. By Tuesday 7th, we got tip off from a source within KASUPDA that they are mobilizing security operatives for demolition, by the time they appeared around 9am and tried to commence demolition, people resisted and the DG, KASUPDA was ordering the security operatives to shoot them but the DPO was reasonable. He said he had orders to take action on the people, but his conscience won’t allow him do so, so he retreated his men and they reappeared at 12:05am Wednesday 8th and teared the whole place down by dawn.” A victim who identified himself as Mohammed Isa revealed.
Another victim of the demolition, Aliyu Usman said, “Since a government Agency is involved, we are not ruling out their culpability in such brazen disregard for law and order. In fact, I suspect a presidential backing. We understand from reliable source that there is even no documentary record for this, they simply called the Governor on phone and asked him to give KASUPDA the nod and he did.
The DG, KASUPDA himself was a level nine staff at the agency given accelerated promotion over his seniors to head the organization, we can confirm he was given three days to execute the demolition or lose his job.” He concluded.
However, a highly placed Commissioner in the Kaduna State Government debunked the claims, stating that the residents were issued notice and all protocols were duly followed.
“You can’t build a house in a place without what you call certificate of occupancy or approved building plan. So definitely they were given notice. But they will not admit it.” The Commissioner said.
In a demolition notice later cited by Arewa Agenda through the Commissioner, a document dated 18th June, 2020 was released with a 21-day ultimatum but residents of the area insist they were not served.
A victim of the incidence, Usman Shamsudeen told Arewa Agenda that, when signs of the demolition exercise began to emerge on Tuesday, residents of the area made concerted effort to get briefing from KASUPDA but they were met with a brick wall. They also tried to see the Emir of Zaria, His Royal Highness, Alhaji Shehu Idris on the matter but he was said not to be feeling too well and couldn’t grant them audience but referred them to the District Head of Zaria, Barrister Sambo Shehu Idris (Sarkin Kudu Zazzau) who reportedly told the residents in Hausa, “Mai guri ya zo, mai tabarma ya nade” which literary translates to, “the landlord has arrived, the squatter should roll up his mat.”
“All the renowned lawyers in the city refused to take up our case to help secure a court injunction that will suspend the operation pending when due process is followed. We were out rightly denied legal access, lawyers kept dodging us. This in itself is highly suspicious.
“The deed has been done, all we want is justice, we should be given a chance for legal hearing and we are ready to accept the outcome, whoever it favors, it’s okay with us since we know we bought this place legally. In whatever guise justice comes it will ease the pain of oppression we are currently feeling, being treated as if we are not citizens of this country.”
Displaced in the Rain
For most of the victims who have nowhere else to turn to, their plight is more excruciating due to the fact that they had been displaced in the rainy season.
Speaking to Arewa Agenda, Mallam Murtala Iliasu said, “This is not government land, we bought it from the rightful inheritors and the developed areas never encroached on the Bare-bari Eid ground as they are propagating. I heard the claims by DG, KASUPDA that we were given notice. I challenge him to provide evidence of the notice, the people they served the notice and the content of the notice.”
Also speaking, Alhaji Murtala Aliyu Namangi Zaria disclosed that by rough estimate, his demolished house which he spent about eight years building, was worth about hundred million naira.
“I bought my land nine years ago from the rightful owners and just a year later, eight years ago Hajiya Gimbiya Maryam daughter of Sarkin Zazzau Mallam Jafaru took us to court and while we were in court, they did their own investigation and found out that the land does not belong wholly to them she now came back to me and apologized that it was her brother Yariman Zazzau Alhaji Mannir Jafaru that gave her five hundred thousand naira to sue us but since her findings revealed that the land is not theirs, she withdrew the suit.” Alhaji Namangi claimed.
Mallam Iliasu, an Octogenarian who is conversant with the history of the disputed land and has witnessed Eid prayer severally with the late Emir Jafaru, corroborated Alhaji Namangi’s claims and went ahead to confirm to Arewa Agenda that their rightful portion of the Bare-bari Eid land still remains unoccupied.
His son, Alhassan Sulaiman reinforced the claim saying that, “Based on the history of what our parents told us while we were kids, the demolished area is not part of the Bare-bari Eid land.”
Similar land dispute had earlier occurred in the Mallawa ruling house of Zazzau Emirate and it was almost happening in the Katsinawa ruling house as well but the current Emir of Zaria HRH, Alhaji Shehu Idris from that ruling house quickly intervened to resolve the issue.
There are nine Emirs to have emerged from the Bare-bari ruling house of Zaria Emirate and Emir Jafaru is the last of them while Hajiya Gimbiya Maryam Jafaru popularly called Hajiya Talle and Yariman Zazzau Alhaji Mannir Jafaru are his direct children.
Broken Family Ties
About three persons are reported to have died due to the incident and quite a lot collapsed of shock while families are now living separately just to have a roof over their heads.
“There are families that have not seen each other since this incident. Some wives have returned to their parents’ home, some children haven’t seen their father and some fathers are just jumping from one friends shop to another passing the night like nomads. Families are just not together anymore and we were given neither notice nor even reasons for this action.
When they came on Tuesday morning, we couldn’t sleep at night when it was apparent that they were going to come back. We started removing our zincs and parking our load. I am among those whose wives started preparing breakfast that morning but wallahi that food never came of the fire, none of my family member was able to eat anything. They have ruined our homes; they have ruined our lives. Government should have mercy on us. We know how we suffered to build this houses” Another victim of the incident who simply identified himself as Maska cried out.
It is still dicey who exactly influenced the Kaduna State Government through its agency to order the hit on the residents of the Bare-beri area, however, Princess Maryam Jafar, Sarki Jafaru’s daughter who had earlier withdrawn a land dispute suite against the residents claims that Yarima (Prince) Sule Wakili, Barrister Aliyu Umar; Chairman Zaria Local Government, Governor Nasir El-Rufai, District Head of Kaura and Sarkin Malamai. “They are all liars and oppressors” she claimed in a widely acclaimed Facebook post in Hausa language.
Furthermore, Prince Mannir Jafaru was said to have vowed in fury that whoever is occupying their land must be made to vacate by all means when Alhaji Murtala Namangi, sought his intervention on the matter prior to the Demolition.
Alhaji Murtala Namangi is the son of late popular Islamic singer, Aliyu Namangi who was reportedly very close to late Sarki Jafaru and was gifted a house by the late Sarki Jaafaru, a house which Alhaji Murtala has returned to occupy as a result of the demolition of his own house.
When contacted to confirm clear the air on some of the issues raised, Director Development, Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency, KASUPDA, Bello Musa Ibrahim who led the operation insisted that this reporter must come to the Agency office in person to obtain the information. When pressed further to refer this reporter to the agencies Public Relations Officer, he hung the call.
Also, am email inquiry sent to [email protected] was not replied to as at the time of this report.
Due to the contentions surrounding the land dispute, it is incumbent upon government to set up an inquiry panel that will unravel the facts and do justice to the matter.
Arewa Agenda is a Publication of Young writers from Northern Nigeria towards peaceful coexistence and National Development through positive narratives.