El-Rufai You Are Demolishing Masses Houses Who Vote For You: This Is Inhuman

Nasir el-Rufai, Governor of Kaduna state

Inadequate notices: A relevant question to ask is: what
constitutes adequate notice? Governor El-Rufai’s
administration is only two months old. That alone is proof
that any notice that may have been given is no more than two
months old! Assuming the landholders indeed illegally
erected structures on public lands, is two months’ notice
sufficient time for communities to evacuate, make alternative
housing arrangements and relocate elsewhere? Because the
state government is demolishing and evicting on a massive
scale, it is irrefutable that two months is insufficient timing
for affected persons to make alternative dwelling
arrangements. Further aggravating the inadequacy of the
timing is the fact that such large-scale community
displacement naturally involves the disruption of children’s
education, livelihoods, familial ties and community support
networks on which citizens, especially the poor depend on for
their sustenance. Not only that, two months’ notice cannot
even be said to be sufficient for a state authority to verify
landholding and titling claims of private citizens, and make
accurate determinations of the legality of their titles.

A court order was necessary: It is already glaring that the
Kaduna State government relied on grossly-flawed, unilateral
and hasty procedures to determine the guilt of offending
landholders. One way of ensuring that human rights are
respected and due process guarantees followed is to obtain a
court order before the mass evictions or demolitions.
Contrary to the various provisions of the Land Use Act cited
above especially Section 39, no other organ of government
was involved in ascertaining these so-called titling
irregularities; so it is difficult to independently verify these
unilateral official claims.

The courts played no role in the
establishment of guilt of the affected landholders. The entire
exercise was not only needlessly shrouded in haste; but also
reminiscent of the rigidly-followed implementation of the
Abuja Master Plan which occasioned large-scale forced
evictions and displacement of hundreds of thousands of
families, loss of livelihoods, abrupt disruption of children’s
education, loss of lives and properties, and gross violations of
other interconnected human rights. In addition, young people
and women bear a greater share of eviction burdens as they
drop out of school and lose their livelihood opportunities
often located around the home.

The right to fair hearing was brazenly ignored: The right
to fair hearing is another critical ingredient of the due process
safeguards in the Constitution and the Land Use Act. Section
36 (Chapter IV) of the Nigerian Constitution enshrined the
right the fair hearing when it stated that:
“In the determination of his civil rights and obligations,
including any question or determination by or against any
government or authority, a person shall be entitled to a fair
hearing within a reasonable time by a court or other tribunal
established by law and constituted in such manner as to
secure its independence and impartiality.”

Whether or not to carry out mass demolitions and evictions
constitutes the very type of questions concerning “civil rights
and obligations” referenced in Section 36. In making such
determinations, the safeguards of due process and fair hearing
are preserved regardless of the ultimate guilt or innocence of
the parties involved. In other words, even if the government
unilaterally makes a finding that the evicted landowners
acquired titles to their properties improperly, that does not
extinguish the right to fair hearing and observance of due
process in effecting demolitions.

In Unibiz Nigeria Limited
vs. CBCL Limited [2003] 152 FWLR 71 at 92, the court
specified the necessary components of fair hearing at page 92
when it stated:
“There are certain basic criteria and attributes of fair hearing,
some of which are relevant in this case. These include:
(i) that the court shall hear both sides not only in the case but
also in all material issues in the case before reaching a
decision which may be prejudicial to any party in the case.
(ii) that the court or tribunal shall give equal treatment,
opportunity and consideration to all concerned.
(iii) that the proceedings shall be held in public and all
concerned shall have access to and be informed of such a
place of public hearing and
(iv) that having regard to all the circumstances, in every
material decision in the case, justice must not only be done
but must manifestly and undoubtedly be seen to have been

As the above passage compellingly enunciates, the right to a
fair hearing is to be preserved irrespective of the
blameworthiness of the affected persons and communities.
This right is available to everyone potentially affected by a
demolition or eviction, regardless of their ultimate title
holding to the property in question. This constitutional right
would be meaningless if all that landholders are entitled to, is
mere two months’ notice. Had Governor El Rufai-led Kaduna
State government obtained a court order prior to carrying out
mass forced evictions or demolitions, this would have availed
affected parties with the opportunity to state their own case.

Considering the haste at which the demolitions were carried
out, affected persons and communities have been deprived of
the opportunity to tell their own side of the story. It is a
shame that El Rufai’s single story narrative of guilt
dominates the media landscape. By so doing, Governor El
Rufai is, unlawfully and unconstitutionally playing the roles
of the prosecutor, the jury, the judge in one fell swoop,
brutally silencing those whose hovels have been torn down,
and leaving them without a remedy.

This conduct is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. COPIED
Let us not support oppression of the masses by their custodian!! 07036661886

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