The crisis rocking the Kaduna State chapter of the All Progressives Congress has taken a new dimension as the office of the faction led by Senator Suleiman Hunkuyi was demolished on Tuesday.
Though the Kaduna State Property Development Agency claimed responsibility for the demolition, the senator representing Kaduna Northern Senatorial District in the National Assembly, Hunkuyi, claimed that Governor Nasir el-Rufai personally drove a bulldozer to demolish the building.
Hunkuyi, who donated the property to the APC faction as its headquarters, said on his Twitter handle, “In the early hours of today (Tuesday), the Governor of Kaduna State, Mallam Nasir el-Rufai, personally drove a bulldozer, accompanied by armoured tanks to destroy my house at 11B Sambo Road.”
The ‘APC Akida’ and the ‘Restoration APC’ had, while unveiling the headquarters on Thursday, said they had to relocate to the new office “to avoid the activities of thugs.”
However, less than 24 hours after, the office was marked for demolition but the APC factional officials were unperturbed as they used the facility on Sunday to announce the suspension of the governor for six months.
The suspension was overturned by the party executives loyal to the governor, who said that the Hunkuyi-led faction had no such power.
One of our correspondents, who visited the scene, learnt that the demolition was carried out amidst tight security.
A security source, who pleaded anonymity because he was not permitted to speak on the matter, said the demolition took place at about 5am.
Residents of the area said they were woken up by the loud sound of the bulldozer pulling down the building around 5am.
However, the Director-General, Kaduna State Geographical Information Service, Ibrahim Husseini, said the house was “removed” for flagrant violations of the land use law and the non-payment of ground rent since 2010.
Husseini said the land had now been re-allocated to KASUPDA to build a recreation centre in the area.
He stated, “This morning, a building on 11B Sambo Close was removed for flagrant violations of land use and non-payment of ground rent since 2010. This illegal violation of the land use law had begun to distress neighbours, who are being forced to endure an influx of thugs and blockage of the road.
“The Kaduna Geographic Information Service issued a revocation notice of statutory right of occupancy, No. KD. 16712, that covers 11B Sambo Close in the Ungwan Rimi area.
“The appropriate notice of revocation was delivered at 28 Inuwa Wada Road, the registered address of the company that held the title of the property. The notice was also delivered to the building in question, and sent by post to the registered address of the previous title holder.”
But Hunkuyi has dismissed the reasons cited by the Kaduna State Government for demolishing the building.
He said, “If what is being released now is anything to go by, shouldn’t there be a contravention order? Shouldn’t there be service for us to quit activity as a party office? Shouldn’t there be other steps rather than jumping into what they did? I don’t think there is the need to say anything to justify that activity of bringing the bulldozers led by his personal self (governor). I don’t need anybody to comfort me on that.
“The first question is: what would the military be doing at a site at odd hours of 4am, in a property that is private to someone, housing a public institution, leading your own party, no matter the dispute?”
The lawmaker described the demolition as “one of those bizarre, rare and unimaginable” decisions of the governor.
But the 1 Mechanised Division of the Nigerian Army, Kaduna, denied any involvement in the demolition.
Meanwhile, the Senate at the plenary on Tuesday urged el-Rufai to compensate Hunkuyi for demolishing his building.
The upper chamber of the National Assembly specifically asked el-Rufai to rebuild the structure.
The resolution followed a point of order raised on the floor by the lawmaker representing the Kaduna Central Senatorial District, Senator Shehu Sani, who formally reported the demolition to the Senate and castigated the governor for playing politics of bitterness.
He said, “This comes a year after the same governor demolished the residence of Alhaji Inuwa Abdul-Kadir, the National Vice-Chairman (North-West) of the APC. This is a series of arbitrariness and of tyranny perpetuated by the governor against dissenting, opposition voices in the state.”
The senator warned that such acts would send a message to people within and outside the state to remain silent on issues bothering them.
Sani said, “I will say very clearly here that in the last two and a half years, we have been faced with tyranny in our state. My constituency office was attacked by violent thugs more than 11 times and it has also been very clear that armed military and policemen have been consistently used by the governor to intimidate and harass people who don’t agree with him.
“It is of concern that after about 20 years of military rule, a man with such a rabid ambition and arrogance of power can appropriate to himself power to act outside the law. How can a democratically elected governor demolish a house without notice simply for the fact that we have set up an office different from the one he has personalised for himself as a so-called party man?”
The lawmaker called on Buhari to caution his “beloved son who has unleashed a reign of terror and has behaved in the most despicable and irresponsible way.”
In his ruling, the Deputy President of the Senate, Ike Ekweremadu, who presided over the plenary, described the demolition as condemnable, while extending his sympathy to Hunkuyi “on the destruction of your house.”
Also, the National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Kola Ologbondiyan, accused the APC government of intolerance, saying some of its governors have started demolishing property belonging to opposition members and perceived opponents of their 2019 re-election bid.
For example, he said el-Rufai on Tuesday, detailed bulldozers and armoured tanks to demolish a property belonging to Hunkuyi perceived to be against his 2019 re-election bid.
A Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Wahab Shittu, said the governor’s action had no justification in democracy, describing it as condemnable.
Shittu said, “Except the facts are disputed, it’s difficult to sustain the action on the basis of compliance with democratic terms and this is condemnable. I will say no more until I get further facts.”
The Chairman of the Centre for Anti-Corruption and Open Leadership, Mr. Debo Adeniran, described el-Rufai’s action as unwarranted, adding that it smacks of malice.
Adeniran said, “It is unwarranted; the governor could have found other means of seeking redress rather than the pulling down of their building. It smacks of malice; it is a malicious kind of exercise, which should not have been done that way.”