Posted by UMORU HENRY, Abuja on
FOR the residents of Chika, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory, situated along the Airport road, Monday through Friday, last week, may not be the days they would, in their wildest imaginations, wish to experience again in their lives.
FOR the residents of Chika, a suburb of the Federal Capital Territory, situated along the Airport road, Monday through Friday, last week, may not be the days they would, in their wildest imaginations, wish to experience again in their lives. The town, with over twenty thousand inhabitants of different professions, were on Monday thrown into confusion and hopelessness after the Federal Capital Development Authority’s bulldozers came and began to bring down structures in the community.
It was a day of W.B Yeats Second Coming when the falcon could not hear the falconer. Instead, anarchy was loosed upon the town and confusion took over. Many families brought out their belongings without having anywhere to go. Thank God the rains had stopped, the story would have been different.
Many families were confused not knowing whether they should go for their loads or children first. Bulldozers roared throughout the week in the community. When Sunday Vanguard visited the community, Monday through Friday, scores of tippers and pick-ups were seen moving loads out of Chika, some to unknown destinations, others to other places as emergency squatters.
Chika, among others, had been marked for demolition. The place , according to the Federal Capital Territory Administration [FCTA], is in line with the master plan designed for the proposed Abuja Technology Village.
What residents say:
“I don’t have any village I can go. We don’t know where the government is taking us to. We are feeling very, very bad”. These were the words of Moses, one of the affected villagers, who spoke to Sunday Vanguard. He continued:"All I can say is that the government is maltreating us. It is as if we are not indigenes of Nigeria and we feel bad about it. Even if they want to do something here, this village had existed before it became the Federal Capital Territory.”
Another inhabitant, Mr Elisha Chegbegi, explained why they were not prepared to move: “Our stand is that we are not ready to move from here because if we say we are moving, what about our forefathers’ graves that are here, are they going to transfer them too? What we want is that the government should make life more comfortable for us in our land and not to displace us”.
Chief of Chika, Istifanus Shegage, echoed Chegbegi’s position. His words: “We hear that the government has come to demolish Chika but there was no official letter to that effect. We hope that God will take control of everything and we are praying to God that anything that happens, He knows the beginning and the end. The day before yesterday (Monday), the commissioner of police invited us and we told him the problem. I want to say that we are complying with the directive, but at the expense of our culture and tradition. We want to move, but sometimes, the manner of approach may result to something else. When we met with him, he (commissioner of police) assured us that he would have a meeting with the executive of FCTA, and that the demolition would not commence in Chika. “Government’s plan is to resettle us, but we are appealing that the government should integrate us here in Chika and if they have any developmental plan, they should do it for us in Chika, we don’t want to lose our identity and culture”, the chief added.
The FCTA had accused the people of preventing enumerators from entering the town on three occasions for a headcount that would have been a prelude to relocation and settlement.
Speaking to Sunday Vanguard, the director, development control of the FCDA, Mr. Isa Shuiabu, who noted that enumeration must be carried out as it was in the case of Idu/Kharimo to ascertain the exact number of indigenous residents in the area and squatters, said the people of Chika never allowed the enumerators to go in.
He said with the seriousness now shown by some people who made up their minds to pack out last week, the administration had to soft-pedal on the demolition move, but was quick to add that Chika must go.
“We just have to make sacrifice, we gave them enough time and we cannot continue to beg them. We have plans for these people as regards Yangoji that we are moving them to; they just need small amount of money to put in place structures there”.
Reacting to the allegation that his subjects got the enumerators beaten up, community chief Shegage said: “Even though I was not at the occasion, information that I have was that the people who were around quietly told the enumerators' team to leave because the chief and youths of the town were in a meeting. So, any story that the youths of Chika fought them is not true.
“We have met with the minister and some directors, we want them to carry us along, relocating is not easy, we want to stay where our fathers were born. Africa respects culture and that is why we too as indigenes of Chika, we must respect our culture, government should respect it too, we have many things that our fathers left behind and we must protect them. That is why when someone dies, he is taken to his village, Abacha was taken to his town for burial when he died. Stella was taken to her husband’s town recently for burial”.
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