Residents of Barakallau in Igabi local government area of Kaduna State on Wednesday staged a peaceful protest over planned demolition of their homes by Kaduna State Urban Development Agency (KASUPDA).
The protesters, who were mainly youths, women and children stormed the office of the National Human Right Commission (NHRC) in Kaduna alleged that, their homes were about to be demolished in favour of Transmission Company of Nigeria (TCN) for it’s planned installation of high tension cables.
Ibrahim Abdulmalik, who addressed the Commission and newsmen on behalf of the community said, they were not opposing the development, but only appealing to the Governor of Kaduna State, Nasir El-Rufai, to intervene on their affairs and facilitate speedy compensation to enable them settle down elsewhere.
According to Ibrahim, the people have been living there for more than 20 years because house rent in the area is on the high side – far from their reach.
“About three months ago, the TCN came and survey the place. They took their time to measure every corner with a promise that they would compensate us. They collected our bank account details, bank verification number and even took our photographs with our houses.
“They came around about three months ago that we were living under high tension. They brought demolition notice on November 14 given us seven days to vacate the area which expired today. But, they extended it to Saturday.
“We are not saying they should not demolish, but they should add human face to it. They should know that we would not have been living there if we can afford decent houses. You can imagine getting a house of N250,000 around there. Where do we have such money to pay rent? He asked.
Another resident, Muhammed Nasir alleged high-handedness in the way and manners the TCN is going about the development.
“The high tension supposed to go through Air Force towards Rigachikun. But because the people living at the GRA side have their certificate of occupancy (CoO) which we don’t have, they then diverted the project towards us.
“Now, they promised us compensation. But up till now, there is no any alert. That is why we want the State government under Governor Nasir El-Rufai to do something about it.”
Reacting, a source in TCN who spoke in confidence said, “we don’t install high tension where there are houses which is under our right of way (RoW) policy.
“Houses were not supposed to be built there in the first place. They want us to pay for using our right of way. How can they expect us to compensate them for using TCN right of way? The source queried.
However, Coordinator of NHRC in Kaduna, Gwar Terngu, described the development as forceful eviction which is against human right of livelihood.
“We are aware government wanted to install high tension even though it is not yet installed. We are also aware of the promised compensation which is why you are here.
“Forceful eviction violates people’s right. We are totally against this move. Some of them are women and children. Where should they go from there. Forcing them out without helping them to settle elsewhere is not right.
“We will look at your complaints and see how we can get in touch with the authorities concern,” he promised.
Meanwhile attempt to speak with officials of KASUPDA failed because the two of them could not respond to phone calls put across to them before filing this report.