For the second time in five years I found it necessary to write to Governor Abdullahi Umar Ganduje of Kano state on the revocation of about 1,000 letters of grant for plots of land allocated nine years ago at Kofar Na’isa New Layout in Kano metropolis.
The government of Malam Ibrahim Shekarau gave out the plots in 2011 to various people, both high and low. A total of 872 plots were allocated for the construction of residential quarters, 74 for commercial purposes and several others set aside for general use by the public.
All the plots were however revoked on the very day a succeeding government came to power on the pretext that a befitting edifice would be constructed at the site. The action caused widespread disgust with the policy and some victims went to court.
It was not clear whether those who sought judicial redress and the government settled the matter out of court, but the issue somehow fizzled out. Nonetheless, for quite some time some beneficiaries kept calling on the government to revisit the case to no avail.
However, people now think that with a ‘Khadimul Islam’ as governor it is time he did something about it. They expect him to live up to the full meaning of the epithet by doing the needful, such as giving alternative plots to the victims or refunding what they paid as processing fees. The fees ranged from about N130,000 upwards depending on the size of a plot.
Located along BUK Road, the plots were in five categories: GRA, medium density, high density, commercial, and public spaces. The beneficiaries included the late Emir of Kano Alhaji Ado Bayero, about 50 of his District Heads, clerics, politicians, prominent citizens and government officials at state and federal levels.
Portions of the land set aside for public use were meant for the construction of facilities such as schools, mosques, shops, clinics, a police post, a bus stop, a playground, and some carwash shades.
The carwash section was included in due consideration of the teeming number of youths who besiege the area daily from the neighborhood to earn their living by washing vehicles. Many vehicle owners in town patronize the boys. They were forced to vacate the place after the revocation.
Stretching from Kofar Dan-Agundi to Sharada GRA, the land is strategically located. A power relay station was constructed there in Colonial times where scores of pylons were erected spreading over a large expense of land westward from the station.
The relay station was used by the first power generating agency in Nigeria known as Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN), the forerunner to the defunct NEPA and PHCN. The last two also used the relay station for effective power supply to the metropolis.
Due to some reason however the pylons remained dysfunctional for a long time, perhaps having outlived their usefulness. It was then apparent that the vast land was underutilized. This made the state government to ask for its release by the Federal Ministry of Aviation.
In fact, Shekarau’s predecessor asked for the release of the land but this did not materialize until his time. This apparently inflamed the feeling of the initiator of the move who became envious. As he was at that time warming up for his bid for a second term as governor he pledged to revoke all the issued letters of grant if he returned to power.
Unfortunately, his bid was successful and he revoked all the allocations on the very day he was sworn-in. This, of course, caused uproar and precipitated the said legal action. It goes without saying however that the matter would have ended amicably if the new helmsman had considered compensating the victims.
In point of fact, Section 28 of the Land Use Act categorically states that ‘compensation’ should be paid for plots acquired by government for public use, which was the purported reason for the revocation. However, this legal ground for justice to the victims was brazenly disregarded.
In the light of this therefore, and in view of the fact that besides fencing no edifice has yet been built at the site, I wish to urge Dr. Ganduje to recognize the necessity of revisiting this sheer case of vindictiveness. As a compassionate person, he needs to ensure that justice is done to those persecuted nine years ago by the then powers-that-be.
Muhammad wrote in from Kano <firstname.lastname@example.org>
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