Discordant tunes have continued to greet last month’s demolition of a house of a top politician in the Kaduna State capital.
A cross section of residents of the state have accused the state government of victimisation over the demolition. But the authorities said the structure was pulled down because it was being built without official permit.
Officials of the Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority, KASUPDA, on April 5 pulled down the four-bedroom duplex still under construction at 11 Yakubu Avenue in Kaduna, the state capital.
The house belonged to the North-West National Vice Chairman of the All Progressives Congress, APC, Inuwa AbdulKadir, who is known to have a history of political disagreement with Governor Nasir El-Rufai, in spite of the two men being members of the same political party.
KASUPDA has insisted that the house was built without official permit, but skeptical residents pointed out that other private structures surrounding it on the street were left intact.
Pictures of the demolition have since gone viral on the internet.
PREMIUM TIMES spoke with some neighbours of the victim and other residents of the state.
Ado Sani, a politician who said he had to travel all the way from Zaria to confirm the demolition, said he was shocked by the action of the state government.
“I am an APC member and I could not believe it when I was told that the state government did this to our regional leader. I said I had to come and see it myself.
“I believe that whatever reason the state government will claim to have, singling one house out on a street and demolishing it speaks volume.
“Inuwa AbdulKadir is party man and a party chieftain, whatever fees that is required from him to pay he would have paid. I do not buy this idea of demolishing people’s homes for some flimsy excuses,” Mr. Ado said.
A neighbour who did not want his name mentioned for fear of victimization said, “Whatever dialogue cannot solve, fight will never bring any good answer.
“These two people should have sat down and iron things out instead. Demolishing a very big investment like this is not good and should never be embraced”.
Maryam Hassan, a human rights activist in Kaduna and a resident in the neighbourhood of the demolished house, said “I will only agree with the government if some kind of development is coming up on that street and it has to affect some houses there.
“The government will have to pay compensation to house owners before such demolition takes place. But in this case, singling out one residence among many casts suspicion on the government’s action and that is not acceptable.”
“Everybody is now afraid of El-Rufai, because he can pick on anybody anytime”, another resident in the area said.
“This is pure act of wickedness. El-Rufai is power drunk. He feels nobody does anything better than him. Nothing is going on in Kaduna. He started feeding school children and stopped. He demolished people’s houses in Zaria, he did nothing about it. He has been building drainages in Kaduna town for the past one year, but for many months it has stopped. We pray that he will also stop demolishing people’s houses and just work”.
While many residents said they were not happy with the action of the state government, some however applauded the government for the achievements recorded in the state so far.
“I want Kaduna to be rebuilt and El-Rufai is on the right track. We shall keep giving him that support.
“The only problem I have with him is this demolition. No single place demolished in Kaduna has been re-built since this governor took power. I beg him to just continue the good work and stay off demolition until those that were demolished are used for other things”, said a resident.
Mr. Abdulkadir, owner of the demolished house, told the News Agency of Nigeria in a telephone interview that the governor had sometimes back threatened to take such action against him.
The APC chieftain said the governor had made the threat in the presence of six other governors from the North West.
“I am not surprised by his action, it is a political vendetta. But I will not make further comment because the case is already in court.”
Also a senator and persistent critic of the governor, Shehu Sani, during a visit to Mr. Abdulkadir said his house was demolished because of his support for the senator.
“I feel responsible for what happened to you because, if you have done the bidding or turned yourself to a stooge of those who want you to subvert the rule of law, your house wouldn’t have been demolished.”
“As far as I’m concerned, the action taken against you (Abdulkadir) is political and I also believe that your house was demolished because of your firm resolve in seeing that the party is run according to its constitution and the laws to which it was established, ‘the senator said.
Mr. Abdulkadir’s house was still under construction when it was pulled down by the state government.
According to the security man at the house, (Mai gadi) the house was about 95 per cent completed.
“The house was 95 per cent completed before the people from government came to demolish it. Hundreds of people have been coming to look at it since it was demolished,” said the security man.