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CAN kicks as Borno plans to demolish churches

By The Rainbow
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The   Borno State Government has begun moves to demolish over 20 churches and schools built by them.

Our correspondent gathered on Sunday that the state government would embark on the demolition exercise any moment from now.

Sources hinted that the state government had already dispatched a notice to the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria, Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria and owners of farmlands in the area intimating them of the plan to acquire the site for a 1000 housing units.

A leaflet from the office of the Borno State Ministry of Lands and Survey dated August 20 and signed by one Musa Ummate (O/C Land Administration) on behalf of the commissioner was obtained by journalists on Sunday in Abuja.

The leaflet is titled, 'Notice of acquisition and assessment/valuation of structures on proposed site for 1000 Housing Units along Gubio Road Highway.'

It reads: 'I am directed to refer to you farmers and holders of structures on the proposed site for caption matter above and regret to inform you that the Executive Governor has, on the power conferred on him by Section (2)b of the Land Use Act 1978, directed through high powered committee on Construction Ref. no: HPCC/2500/HE/S/TEC/1 to notify you of his intention to acquire your farm lands and assessment/valuation of the structures on the proposed site situated along Gubio Road, Maiduguri.

'The acquisition is necessary in view of requirements of the land acquisition by the state government for overriding public interest to construct a Housing Esate. The affected farmers and holders of structures are to take note and appear on site for the above exercise, please.'

But a CAN source said, 'Over 20 churches and many schools will be affected. The parcels of land on which the churches were built were bought from farmers and have the authority and certificate of the District Head in Maiduguri popularly called Bulama. The land was not under the ministry when it was bought.'

When contacted, the General Secretary of CAN, Dr. Musa Asake, confirmed the development but called on the Borno State Government to have a rethink.

He said, 'We have seen that eviction notice from the Borno State Government. We are all Nigerians and there are other places where the state government can develop. The areas being earmarked for demolition are already developed with churches and schools.

'We have enough problems at hand and we don't want to add another one. Christians have suffered enough in Borno State. If the state government wants to destroy churches and build any housing estate, no Christian will see it as a sign of progress.'

Asake promised that CAN would take up the  matter with Borno State Government as soon as it was confirmed that the letter actually emanated from the government.

Several calls and text messages to the mobile phone of the Borno State Commissioner for Information,  Mr. Inuwa Bwala, as at 3:45 pm on Sunday for the state government's reaction were not replied (PUNCH)