Founders of many secondary schools in Kaduna envisaged great future for such schools and obtained large portions of land for future expansion, but certain individuals and institutions took over much of such lands, an anomaly which Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai has launched a difficult campaign to correct
The land recovery exercise that Governor Nasir Ahmed El-Rufa’i of Kaduna State has started executing is taken for granted by many of the land developers who continue work on marked government lands, some even running day and night shifts to complete their mission.
A notice of demolition was signed by the Acting General Manager, Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KASUPDA), Saratu M. Hassan and pasted on some houses on portions of land belonging to Rimi College, one of the most prestigious early-generation secondary schools in the city of Kaduna. The identified houses were allegedly built by persons who contravened the Nigerian Planning Law as the Rimi College land, like the Rimi College itself, is owned by the Kaduna State Government.
The message stated, “The board has observed that you are developing/have developed a piece of land without the necessary legal requirements of authentic evidence of ownership and planning permission. This is a contravention of section 30, sub-section 2 of the Nigerian Urban and Regional Planning Law. In the event that you got the necessary planning permission, due to over-riding public interest, your Planning permission is hereby revoked and your building earmarked for demolition. In view of the above, the board is giving you 21 days within which to vacate and remove the structures erected/occupied by you based on section 61 of the afore-mentioned law. Failure to comply with the above directive, KASUPDA would have no option but to demolish the structure at your expense based on section 62 and 63 of the same law.”
The land recovery exercise has come and gone in the famous Alhudahuda College in Zaria where the Emir of Zazzau, Alhaji Shehu Idris, immediate past vice president, Alhaji Namadi Sambo, and many other prominent people had their secondary education. Many members of the public encroached on the college land, but following the demolition exercise conducted there earlier, identified houses were demolished and the school land recovered fully.
Before the exercise, it was gathered that some of the illegal occupants whose houses where close to the students’ classes constantly called on the school principal to caution his students against making noise which the occupants said was disturbing their peace. Nobody made the point at the time that the generators and music sets of the occupants were disturbing the peace of the students.
In Kaduna metropolis, next to the main gate of the famous Government Girls Secondary School in Kawo, Kaduna is a newly erected gate of another private residence, among others, occupants of who may be disturbing the silence of the learning environment due to the domestic noises that they generate.
Among notable people alleged to have encroached on government lands and built houses near GGSS and the former Kaduna Teachers College – now Government Secondary School (Senior) – Kawo Kaduna, is former Commissioner of Works in the late Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa’s and some part of the era of the immediate past Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero, Engineer Suleman Richifa. There is the former Commissioner of Education during Yakowa and Mukhtar Ramalan Yero’s administrations, Alhaji Muhammad Usman who is presently the member representing Makarfi and Kudan in the Kaduna State House of Assembly, who is also an educationist. There is Musa Mubama who is alleged to be an ally of former Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero.
The GGSS Kawo is a fenced girls school which is not readily accessible, but the GSS Kawo which could be more easily viewed is in a sordid state. There is nothing to show that proceeds from the sale of the school land were used to develop the school. The classroom blocks, toilets, chairs, staff quarters, and roofs are in need of urgent repairs.
The most unfortunate victim of a serial land grab appears to be the famous Rimi College, formerly known as Saint Joseph College. This is the school from which the late Minister of Justice Chief Bola Ige and Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa graduated from. Curiously, it is alleged that Yakowa was the governor who allocated the school land to some people.
Among the famous people alleged to have their private houses on the college land is an educationist, a former lecturer and rector of Kaduna Polytechnic and a commissioner until some months ago in the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), Dr Nuru Yakubu. His house shares a fence with the college. Others include a Kaduna-based businessman Alhaji Sani Umar, and Jibrin Oscar. Some are still building houses despite the demolition notice and some staff in the college who prefer anonymity said that some of the people quickly finished their buildings when Governor El-Rufai disclosed that he would recover school lands.
It was learnt that when the present Emir of Birnin Gwari was the vice principal of Rimi College, he liaised with the principal and other old boys who sought for the permission of the then military governor of Kaduna State Group Captain Usman Jibrin for approval to fence the school and for the state government to build junior staff quarters to safeguard the school land, which was approved, but over the years the Joint Admission and Matriculation Board was alleged to have been given a land from the Rimi College premises. And lately a part of the school was given to the Kaduna State Universal Basic Education Board (SUBEB), the Kaduna State Ministry of Education’s Infrastructure Development Programme (IDP), Kaduna State Teachers Service Board, among others.
In the Rimi College, most of the encroached lands can only be accessed through the main gate of the college and houses were built near the classes of students.
The only borehole in the staff quarters in not functioning. But when the notice was issued, one of the new occupants put a hose that allowed the poor teachers and neighbors to fetch water from his borehole. The school does not have a hygienic functional toilet as the block of toilets in the then boarding and now fully day school is filled and smelly.
While the houses of teachers are fenced with corrugated zinc with some stalls for goats and some poultry while those of the new occupants are high rise fenced walls decorated with paints, tiles or marbles.
Government College Kaduna is one of the oldest colleges in Northern Nigeria. It was built on a very wide expanse of land then, but the story changed during the tenure of Governor Ahmed Muhammad Makarfi when it was alleged that he allowed a hostel to be converted for use by the Ministry of Science and Technology, the National Board for Technical Examination (NABTEB), Kaduna State Quality Assurance Control Board, and GCK Poultry.
Some of the prominent individual occupants of land spaces of the college are the former Head of Service and later Minister of State for Aviation, Mr Felix Hassan. Alhaji Malumfashi, Sefa Hospital, the then Press Secretary of former Governor Ahmed Makarfi, Alhaji Mukhtar Surajo, a serving army officer who names his shopping complex in front of Government College gate as JIRWA, among others.
It was alleged that the lands of these colleges and schools were allocated to political cronies for the then governors to win second-term elections without due consideration for the future development needs of the colleges or even the learning environment for students of the colleges now, and the town planning law that the private developers violate.
When contacted, the acting general manager of KASUPDA, Saratu Hassan said she could not comment on the issue, but directed this reporter to the Press Secretary to the Governor, Samuel Aruwan who said the issues had been addressed already.