Wednesday, June 16, 2021

The inside story of Kano ‘church land’ allocated to mosque


Jaafar Jaafar
Jaafar Jaafar is a graduate of Mass Communication from Bayero University, Kano. He was a reporter at Daily Trust, an assistant editor at Premium Times and now the editor-in-chief of Daily Nigerian.
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By Jaafar Jaafar

There is disquiet in Kano Christian community, especially the Catholic Diocese, following the decision of the state government to allocate a land for the purpose of building mosque in Kundila area of Kano metropolis.

The area, which serves as park and praying ground of Kundila Juma’at mosque, was initially allocated to Catholic Archdiocese of Kaduna (now Catholic Diocese of Kano) on September 25, 1979 by Kano State Government.

The approval of the state government followed the archdiocese’s application for right of occupancy of the plot, dated October 19, 1976.

Shortly after the allocation, the diocese began preparation for development, a situation that sparked protests by the residents of the newly established Kundila Housing Estate.

Worried by the rising tension, the state government wrote a letter to the Archdiocese of Kaduna on December 27, 1979, with reference number LAN/KN/4059/27, asking it to stop further development on Plot KN 4059 until they hear from the ministry.

The Archdiocese did not hear from the ministry until July 2, 1980. In a letter titled “Site for Roman Catholic Church and Residence”, with reference number LAN/KN/4059/59, and signed by the Principal Land Officer on behalf of the commissioner, the ministry wrote:

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“I am directed to inform you that the criteria being used for the siting of churches is that it should only be located within a predominantly Christian community of the metropolitan area, which by historical development happens to be in S/Gari Area.

“In view of the above an alternative site within our approved layout TP-MB-2c Airport Layout is found to be suitable in the middle of the institutions catchment area. Dimension of the size is 170x250ft and is quite adequate considering the urban land situation.

“Beside this; there is no other available land within the Municipal to be allocated to you, as it is under planning review, so let me know whether you are ready to accept or not,” the letter concluded.

Sources at the ministry told DAILY NIGERIAN that the archdiocese neither claimed the land allocated to it nor replied the ministry rejecting the offer.

It was gathered that the land thereafter serves as park and praying ground in view of its proximity to the Kundila Jumaat Mosque.

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Nearly 40 years after, Kano State government allocated the land to a philanthropist for the purpose of building a Juma’at mosque, library and Islamiyya school.

In a letter dated September 3, 2015, the Catholic diocese however renewed its efforts to “explore necessary exchange or swap” of the land, 38 years after it allegedly ignored an offer.

Barely a month after the new allotee moved to the site, the diocese filed a suit before High Court No6, Miller Road, Kano, claiming among other things that it’s the “rightful owner of a piece of land lying along Maiduguri Road, Kundila, Kano.”

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When contacted, the chairman of the Kano branch of Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, Ransome Bello, said he would get in touch with the Catholic community “to get the true picture of the dispute”.

But a top member of the church, Mark Asu-Obi, said the offer given to the church in 1980 “was not clearly given”, saying the letter sent to the archdiocese at that time was not “allocation letter”.

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“Of course the emeritus at that time made fruitless efforts to formalise the new offer,” he said.

The Permanent Secretary of Kano Land Bureau, Muhammad Danduwa, told DAILY NIGERIAN that it was obvious the archdiocese did not come forward to accept the offer made to it at that time.

According to him, all land titles were recertified in 1981 after the ministry was razed down during the July 10, 1981 rampage that claimed the life of Dr Bala Mohammed, a fiery activist and Political Adviser to the late Governor Abubakar Rimi.

“After that riot that saw many government offices in Kano razed to ashes, the ministry of Land placed adverts in national dailies and radio, asking people to come for recertification.

“It was assumed that anybody who did not come forward for recertification within the period given did not have a valid title or is not interested in reclaiming the title,” he said.

He also said the state government decided to allocate the land for building mosque and school as the area was becoming a haven for criminals.

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See documents below…

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