The Kaduna State Chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has condemned the eviction notice said to have been given by the State Urban Planning Development Agency to the 110-year-old St. George Anglican Church, Sabon Gari, Zaria.
The seven-day notice which the agency claimed was a directive from the state governor, Nasir El-Rufai, sources say, is a plan by the agency to pull down the structures to pave way for the expansion of the Sabon Gari Market.
The notice, not dated, was addressed to House No. 27, Church House, Sabon Gari Market, Zaria which in the actual sense, is St George’s Church, 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,” the notice read.
“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 19h – 24 September).”
Signatory of the notice did not include a name, but was signed by the “Zonal head” of KASUPDA on behalf of the “Zonal Manager.”
However, the Kaduna state Chairman of CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab, in a statement on Thursday in Kaduna, condemned the eviction order.
Hayab noted that the notice was suspect and accused the agency of sinister plan to demolish the church.
In a statement titled: “Governor Nasir el-Rufai should call KASUPDA to order,” Hayab said, “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 realised 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 chairman also called on the governor to immediately investigate the purported quit order from KASUPDA and take prompt action on the officers involved. As according to him, “This will go a long way in allaying fears and apprehension among Christians in the state and the nation at large.”