Some veteran soldiers said to have been forcefully evicted from the Old Army Barracks, KASUPDA Quarters, Kabala Costain, Kaduna, the State capital are pleading with Governor Nasir El-rufai to consider their plights and investigate the matter .
According to them, group of armed policemen stormed the quarters without notice or court order and asked the 19 of them to leave on grounds that the houses have been sold to different owners .
“We didn’t understand the problem , because there was no notice or any court order telling us to vacate the houses we have lived in for over twenty years .
“They drove us out and removed roof of the houses, even when we didn’t fight them .” They added .
Narrating their ordeal , Warrant Officer Paul Ojo (rtd) of the Nigerian Army , who spoke on behalf of the evicted veteran soldiers said : “One DSP Ahmed just came around with team of policemen and vigilante officers said : ” I give you five minutes ,if you don’t quit now I will throw you out .We said how can you throw us out ,you police in uniform in a house the Governor ask us to buy .We told them, it’s only if we cannot pay that it becomes trouble .
“I asked him about the court injunction , they couldn’t provide any, but they forcefully asked us to leave, even when the 20th August day, I was supposed to appear in the Barnawa court has not come .
I was beating, my son ,who ia an Airforce officer and my wife were rough handled , If I know you’re coming I would have brought the cloth I wore on that fateful day.My son, the Airforce officer was handcuffed and thrown into their vehicle.
On whether they got any court , Ojo said , on 13th of August ,2020 ,a court messenger came with a letter that I should sign that on the 20th August ,they want me at court .And I called my lawyers ,who said I should sign and give him the paper .
On how they were allocated the houses he explained: “We were posted here as soldiers and these houses belong to military by then. The houses were acquired by military and used as army quarters .Since 1973,Nigerian Army acquired the houses from state government and allocated to us in 1992 ,when Governor Ja’afaru Isa was on the throne as military administrator.
” There was a time we were asked to go back to the barracks ,but we ran to Governor Ja’afru Isa,and he said we should not leave ,but pay for the house as others would be paying .
“Then KASUPDA gave us forms for tenancy agreement and the whole of us signed .We have the copy.”
However, he said ,”When Elrufai assumed office as Governor ,he said he was going to sell ,but any occupant, who has spent five years gets the house . And when the time comes , if such can’t pay as the highest bidder ,he’s free to negotiate with someone to buy the house and pay government .
” Soldiers don’t pay tax ,but along the line ,we were asked to pay tax clearances .We also paid application fee of ten thousand naira and the required ten percent .In my own case, I was the highest bidder .When we noticed that the pushing is too much, we called lawyers ,because we know as soldiers there is nothing we can do .
“As soldiers, we don’t fight anyone, we don’t quarrel anyone ,we leave in peace amongst ourselves as soldiers .we don’t know who is a Muslim ,Christian or herbalist ,we have being living here with one voice .
Meanwhile , the evicted soldiers urged the Nigerian army authority to come to their aid and see that these houses are giving back to them .
They also called on Governor El-rufai who according to them assured them of fair deal. ” We believe in that promise to sell the house to us and we urge to come to our rescue. We have spent nothing less than 30 years living in these houses .We want him to reconsider our plight as veterans ,who have served this country and give the houses back to us .” He appealed.
In chat with journalists ,Counsel to some of the evicted soldiers ,Barrister Kimi Appah,who urged the Governor to consider the old men and allow them complete the procurement procedures to acquire the houses, explained : ” The genesis of this issue started around 2016 ,when the government published in Thisday newspaper advertising for persons to make bid for the sale of government properties within Kaduna State and that offer extended to residents of the quarters .”
Barrister Appah further explained : ” They did bid for the properties and paid offer money of ten percent .They paid their tax clearances certificate. The 19 of them came out a as the highest bidders ,as such the government now asked them to pay the ten percent of the purchase price and they did pay.
“Subsequently ,the committee for whatever reason now re-allocated the property to different persons that didn’t bid for the property at the time the bidding process was going on .
“As a result, all of them went to court, one suit is with Hon. Justice Balogun and the other one is with Hon. Justice Isa Aliyu ,challenging the transfer of ownership or sale to different persons outside the original 19 occupants .
“The suit are pending at various stages at the High court , meaning that it is sub judice .Not until 17 August ,2020 ,a group of policemen led by one Samuel Jacob Madaki from the Ministry of Justice and DSP Ahmed D. of Operation Yaki and a party from office of Head of Service ,Kaduna State came to this quarters ,forcefully with aid of policemen ,removed the roof of the houses without any notice and evicted the old men ,some of whom are 85 years of age .
“At the time they called me that eviction is taken place ,I attempted to speak to lawyer from the Ministry and make understand that this matter is sub judice.
” Assuming the matter is not even sub judice, assuming they are even tenants at will or illegal occupants of the houses ,do you have evidence of letter served you served to any of the 19 persons,stating that you intend to take over the property ? None was presented.
“I said show me the letter or order from the Governor signed by His Excellency authorising you from the Ministry of Justice to these people ,whether the matter is in court or they have court injunction or any judgement .He couldn’t produce any of them ,his words is that the Solicitor General of Kaduna State ,who is heading the recovery of government properties directed him to takeover the properties.
“They forcefully entered Warrant Officer Paul Ojo house beat him up and took over the house It is a very sad one .For government to do such to veterans that have served this nation.
“The most important thing is that looking at section 29 of the Tenant law signed by the Governor vis-à-vis section 28 of the same law ,government or any person cannot forcefully take over any premises without adequate court order or notice issued .In this case ,no notice issued ,no court was obtained, but just brutal force .”
The Counsel however ,urged the Governor ,who has benefited from rule of law and he is still benefiting to encourage that legality takes over than brutal force .
While stressing , “We are not by any means trying to castigate the government ,we are not by any means trying ensure that illegality takes place, he appealed ,” we are asking the Governor to please look into the matter and allow them come back to the premises pending the determination of the high court. And if the high court says the properties do not belong to them, they will vacate them . And if it says it belongs them then they should be given .”