Kaduna — The Kaduna State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) has raised the alarm over a seven-day quit notice issued to St. Gregory's Anglican Church in Sabon Gari, Zaria, by the Kaduna State Urban Planning Development Agency (KASUPDA).
It was learnt that the quit notice was issued last Wednesday to facilitate the development of the Sabon Gari market in Zaria.
KASUPDA warned that failure to comply with the directives will leave the agency with no other option than to forcefully evict the church at its own expense.
The market in question is said to occupy part of the land belonging to the church, built about 110 years ago.
A copy of the quit notice addressed to No. 27, Church House, Sabon Gari Market, Zaria, was made available to journalists.
The zonal head of the agency, who signed the notice on behalf of the zonal manager, however, did not include his name in the notice.
In a statement issued Thursday in Kaduna, the state Chairman of CAN, Rev. Joseph Hayab, said the association is alarmed with the quit notice, if actually is a directive from the governor.
"CAN wishes to draw the attention of the Kaduna State Government to a quit notice to St. George's Anglican Church in Sabon Gari, Zaria.
"The seven-day quit notice by the KASUPDA is purported to be a directive from the state governor. The notice also claimed that compensation had been duly paid to the church.
"We are alarmed and apprehensive about this, if it is true that it is a directive from the governor. But we doubt much if the governor issued the directive," Hayab said.
He recalled that in February 2016, the state government made moves to relocate the church to pave way for the expansion of the market.
The CAN chairman said the state government later realised that the church has all valid documents and that even some parts of the market are on the church's land.
Hayab said following the presentation of the necessary documents by the church, the matter was resolved amicably.
According to him, "We wish to state categorically that no compensation was paid to the church.
"Where did the KASUPDA officials get this false information that compensation had been paid? Or are the KASUPDA officials playing a script or are they being used by some faceless trouble entrepreneurs to provoke Christians?
"It should be noted that the church which was founded about 110 years ago, was liberal enough to allow the market in question to operate in some parts of its land.
"Is it now a crime to be liberal and accommodating? How could the governor revisit the issue which was resolved amicably in 2016 by issuing a seven-day quit notice?
"We suspect that this could be the handiwork of some people who do not mean well for the state."
He called on the governor to immediately investigate the purported quit notice from KASUPDA and take prompt action on the officers involved.
"This will go a long way in allaying fears among Christians in the state and the country at large.
"This unfortunate noticed is coming just few weeks after the alarm about the purported demolition of a mosque in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, which upon investigations, was later confirmed to be false.
"We, therefore, urged the governor to take a step to avert that kind of situation in the state," Hayab said
However, in his reaction, Special Adviser to the state Governor, Nasir el-Rufai, on Media and Communication, Mr. Muyiwa Adekeye, said he was not aware of the notice.
"I am not aware of the notice you are talking about. What I know, and it's a fact in the public domain, is that the Kaduna State Government is redeveloping and expanding markets, including the Sabon-Gari market," Adekeye said.