Shuttle Mediation to Gbagyi Villa
There exists palpable tension in Gbagyi Villa community of Kaduna south area on the demolition plan of the state government. This has continued to generate different views from stakeholders. In the first week of August, 2016, the Youth Department of Interfaith Mediation Center embarked on a visit to Gbagyi villa to obtain a firsthand information on the situation.
The Team met with the Sarkin Samari (Youth Leader) who appreciated the gesture and gave an insight into the situation as follow:
· Earlier inhabitants of the community known as Gbagyi Villa today were predominantly farmers and were quite aware of the presence of Kaduna Polytechnic ‘s land around their community and did not trespass .
· The land dispute between the Gbagyi Community and Kaduna Polytechnic came up during the late Patrick Ibrahim Yakowa’s tenure as governor of Kaduna State. Kaduna Polytechnic claimed that the Gbagyi Villa community is encroaching on their land but the Gbagyi Villa community also claimed that the land belongs to them and not Kaduna Polytechnic. The then Governor stepped in and settled the dispute.
· It was also revealed that Kaduna Polytechnic had no Certificate of Occupancy on the land; they did not issue receipts to Gbyagyi community members who farmed on the land; they have also never carried out any agricultural activity on the land and as a result, the Governor asked Kaduna Polytechnic to demarcate the area their land covers which they did by building a fence. The demarcation then separated Kaduna Polytechnic from Gbagyi Villa
· Furthermore, Gbagyi Villa has obtained a White Paper for their community, under Governor Ramalan Yero’s administration and since then, everyone has been living peacefully until suddenly, a man who is a non-resident of Gbagyi Villa, Abdullah Musa who resides in Kakuri, hired an ex-military man called Bala Musa, also a resident of Kakuri, broke into the demarcated fence of Kaduna Polytechnic and started claiming lands for himself and selling to others. He was confronted but he refused to stop. The police was involved in the matter but the man continued to sell plots of lands around the Kaduna Polytechnic fence secretly.
· They lamented that the present governor, El Rufa’i is not concerned about the root cause of the problem and has refused to dialogue, look at court documents, but rather is finding faults with the entire Gbagyi Villa Community and ordering them to vacate their properties as they have been earmarked to be pulled down.
· The Youth Leader stated that since the governor has made up his mind to bring down the buildings by force, the community members are also prepared to either defend their land or die in the process and there is no going back.
· The chairman of Gbagyi Villa property owners also concurred with the Youth Leadersaying his concern is how the issue will be resolved amicably because residents of Gbagyi Villa that bought their plots legally and built their structures will do anything to defend their labor for the past years.
Call to Action
· The meeting ended with the Youth Leader and the chairman of the Gbagyi Villa property owners asking the officials of IMC to report the cry of the people of Gbagyi Villa to the appropriate authorities as well as to arrange further meetings with other stake holders in the state and the nation at large to resolve this issue peacefully
· They also called on the Kaduna state government to engage the Gbagyi Villa residents in a round table to discuss the way forward on this issue as peace can only be attained through dialogue.