Dunamis churches operating in Kaduna State are doing so illegally as their properties lack proper titles and violate various aspects of the state’s building codes, an agency of the state government has said.
The Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Agency (KASUPDA) recently wrote to individuals, businesses and religious organisations in the state, asking them to provide title documents of their properties.
Among the religious organisations written to was Dunamis. Acting General Manager of KASUPDA, Fatima Bambale, made the request in a letter with reference number PS/14/PP/ZIII/20,624/VOL I/0. The letter was titled ‘’Update of Religious Institutions within the state.”
‘’I am directed to request you to furnish the agency with details(of title documents and approvals) through the attached form,’’ Ms Bambale wrote.
However, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that instead of the church furnishing the government with the requested details, it reported the government to the Kaduna branch of the Christian Association of Nigeria.
The state secretary of CAN, Sunday Ibrahim, then wrote the urban planning agency saying the organisation should have channelled its enquiries through the Christian body, warning that it finds KASUPDA’s letter offensive.
In a letter dated February 7, 2019, excerpts of which were published by a national daily, Mr Ibrahim expressed CAN’s ‘’disaffection with the content of your(KASUPDA’s) letter and to remind the agency that it is a government agency and not (an) individual establishment.’’
According to CAN, ‘’Where a government, through the agency, finds it necessary to update religious institutions within the state, we strongly believe that the agency knows well enough the proper channel to follow, which is through CAN or Interfaith.’’
Mr Ibrahim said Dunamis had contacted CAN after receiving KASUPDA’s letter, adding that the Christian body finds the letter offensive and it suspects that it is ‘’ ill-conceived and inappropriate that the agency should write the individual church directly, disregarding CAN.‘’
The CAN Secretary further said that the letter ‘’provokes in us a sense of suspicion that it is an attempt at using KASUPDA , which is a government agency, as a tool to persecute the Dunamis International Gospel Centre Churches in Kaduna state.’’
However, a letter from KASUPDA seen by PREMIUM TIMES shows that the agency notified the Kaduna State Geographic Information Service(KADGIS) that Dunamis Church at Farin Gida ward, which is located around Mando area, ‘’is a rented house which has no title and planning permission approval.’’
Similarly, the letter noted that the Dunamis Church at Command Junction in Kaduna metropolis merely submitted an application for approval at its Sabon Tasha area office on January 14, 2019.
The letter, which was signed by Bello Ibrahim, Acting Director of Development Control, also stated that ‘’Dunamis Church at Gonin Gora is a rented property from Mr Eromosele Emmanuel, who applied for church development on 8th October 2012 and was requested to bring the following: evidence of processing state government Certificate of Occupancy and Tax Clearance Certificate on 8th November 2012. He is yet to respond.’’
According to the letter, dated February 8, 2019, with reference number PS/14/PP/ZIII/20,624/VOL I/016, the Dunamis Church at Mararaban Rido has no title and planning permission approval.
Efforts to get comments from Dunamis Church were unsuccessful. Multiple calls over three days to three telephone numbers provided on both the Facebook page and website of the church did not connect. An email to the official address provided was also not replied to as at the time of publishing this story.
PREMIUM TIMES asked the Chairman of the Kaduna State chapter of CAN, Joseph Hayab, why his organisation is getting involved in the matter rather than allow Dunamis provide its property documents to the authorities.
“The issue of Dunamis Church and the Kaduna state government is just politics and I don’t want to join the government in heating up the polity at this time,” Mr Hayab said.
“How come the government did not write to all churches or even Dunamis headquarters but just the local one at Farin Gida? There is also a Bureau of Religious interfaith in this state, why not go through them?”
Contacted over the matter, the spokesperson for KASUPDA, Nuhu Garba, said it was unacceptable for CAN to dabble into its agency’s role of getting property owners to validate their titles.
“I know for a fact that recertification has been going on since 2015 and the letter you mentioned was given to many other Churches and Mosques.
“I also know that most have responded individually and not through any association they belong to
“As a journalist now if the government wants to get details regarding a property you own, do they have to go through the NUJ?” he said.