The Borno State government are planning to demolish at least 20 churches and christian schools in Maiduguri after acquiring land they say they want to use for a 1000-unit housing estate.
Demolition notice has been served to the present occupants of the acquired land, which includes owners of farmlands and several churches and schools built by churches. The state government have already dispatched a notice to the leadership of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria (PFN)
Some people feel like the government isn’t really planning to build any housing estate, just looking for an excuse to destroy the churches and private schools, with the alleged grand plan of gradually islamising the state as part of an alleged wider plan to Islamise the northern part of Nigeria. An information leaflet on the acquisition plan from the State Ministry of Lands and Survey has been released.
The leaflet, entitled Notice of Acquisition and assessment/valuation of structures on proposed site for 1000 Housing Units along Gubio Road Highway, 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 has 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 by the state government for overriding public interest to construct Housing Estate. The affected farmers and holders of structures are to take note and appear on site for the above exercise, please.”
Meanwhile the General Secretary of CAN , Dr. Musa Asake, has reacted to the planned demolition. He said: “We have seen the 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 problem. 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.
“As soon as we authenticate the source of that letter, we are going to reach out to the State Government to make sure that Christians don’t lose their churches and lands there. But we have no reason to doubt the source of that letter. We have suffered enough in Borno State and enough of all these things which are coming in another disguise.
“Borno State Government should reconsider that decision to demolish Churches and their properties because in Borno State, there are many vast lands. They should do that instead of going to these areas where Christians have settled for long. We are asking the Borno State Government not to try it.” Asake said.