The Christian Community in the main campus of the Kaduna state University (KASU), Kaduna, has kicked against the pulling down of the only chapel being constructed in the University.
In a statement in Kaduna, the community, under the aegis of Christian Community on Campus (CCC), described demolition of the church building under construction, was “one injustice too many”.
The Kaduna State Urban Planning and Development Authority (KASUPDA), had on June 6, 2022, destroyed a chapel under construction on the basis that the structure violated extant laws.
Director General of KASUPDA, Ismail Dikko, had while defending the demolition of the chapel, said the Kaduna State Executive Council had earlier given a directive that all public and institutions must submit relevant documents before erecting new structures within their premises.
However, in a statement jointly signed by Ishaya Auta and Emmanuel Monday, Coordinator and Secretary of Christian Community on Campus respectively, challenged the KASUPDA Director General to provide evidence of other structures within the university which were approved by his agency.
The CCC leadership said, “KASU has a Directorate of Physical Planning that oversees the construction of all buildings/structures. The university has over a hundred structures without building permit from KASUPDA. So why is the case of the KASU Chapel different?
“Is KASUPDA trying to usurp the powers of the Directorate of Physical planning in KASU?
“We challenge the DG of KASUPDA to publish the building permits of all structures in Kaduna State University in the spirit of fairness and equity”, the CCC stated.
The group alleged that since the establishment of the university 17 years ago, efforts to construct a place of worship for the Christian community was being frustrated by the university authorities.
The statement added, “The reason for this lack of a place of worship is sequel to many back and forth policies of the Management of the University on allocation of land for construction, among many other heinous reasons.”
The CCC lamented that while there are five mosques within the university campus, the Christian community has no place of worship.
“It is disheartening that KASU in its 17 years of existence does not have a place of worship for the large Christian Community.
“Furthermore, CCC counted at- least five places of worship for the other faith and without any for the Christian faith on campus.
“We consider the foregoing to be a sensitive matter and if not properly handled, it could lead to break down of law and order.
“The Christian Community has endured embarrassment, harassment and intimidation for too long in a university that is supposed to teach justice, equity and love for one another’s religious beliefs.
“We want the Management of the university and the State Government to come clear over the matter on whether or not they want a Christian worship place in the Main Campus.
“This will put to rest their seemingly dilly dallying attitude on the matter. We want to also bring to the notice of the general public that there are two places of worship for the two major faiths in the Kafanchan Campus of the University.
“We then wonder why same is not the case in Kaduna Campus which is more populated.
“It is our believe that there is a grand plan to sabotage, supplant and subdue the Christian Community on Campus as repeated demands for a written document from the Registrar and Director, Physical Planning and Development in KASU to state reasons the Chapel construction should be stopped has been to no avail as we speak.
“Therefore, we call on all concerned authorities for a timely intervention in the interest of peace and tranquility.
“Please bear in mind that as an umbrella body of all Christians on campus, CCC will always follow the path of peace and dialogue to amicably resolve issues,” the statement stated.
Read below the full text of the CCC statement:
THE DEMOLITION OF ONGOING CHAPEL CONSTRUCTION AT THE KADUNA STATE UNIVERSITY MAIN CAMPUS BY KASUPDA: ONE INJUSTICE TOO MANY.
Gentlemen of the press, the Christian Community on Campus (CCC) Kaduna State University is the umbrella body of all Christians in Kaduna State University with the mandate to unite, work together and promote peaceful coexistence within and beyond the faith.
However, it is on record that the CCC which is as old as the University has been without a place of worship. The reason for this lack of a place of worship is sequel to many back and forth policies of Management of the University on allocation of land for construction, among many other heinous reasons.
In light of the above, the CCC draws the attention of the public to the most current happenings on the land space meant for the construction of Worship Chapel at the Main Campus of the University and the demolition of the foundation of the Chapel under construction.
This attention in our thinking may be timely and could forestall any embarrassment and litigation against the University and the Government of Kaduna State.
Going down memory lane
The Governing Council of the University in its 49th meeting on the 14th of April 2014 allocated and approved a space of land at a designated location of the University on a permanent basis to build a worship Chapel. This occasion was authoritatively confirmed by the Director Physical Planning & Development Arc. Y. M. Ashiru.
12th June 2022.
On the 1st of September 2016, the Directorate of Physical Planning & Development granted the CCC permission to commence building construction subject to adjustment of building setbacks.
As a result, CCC mobilized resources to site for the commencement of preliminary work on the foundation phase of the Chapel as earth machine and other items were on site at that time.
However, work was halted along the way because the Directorate of physical planning in KASU requested that the Christian Community write to seek for another approval.
Four years after, and precisely on the 5th of October 2020, the leadership of the CCC wrote the Vice Chancellor Prof Muhammad Tanko notifying him of the recommencement of construction work at site.
On mobilizing to site, CCC noticed a sudden outcrop of massive structures on the said CCC allocated and approved site.
As a follow up of the CCC’s letter of 5th October 2020, the Vice Chancellor Prof Muhammad Tanko invited the leadership of the CCC and the Principal Officers of the University to a crucial meeting held at the Vice Chancellor’s board room on the 14th of October, 2020. The major highlight during the meeting was the reallocation of two separate sites (For Protestants and Catholics respectively) by the Vice Chancellor as an outright replacement of the initial site duly allocated and approved by the University’s Governing Council. This was done without any compensation by the University Management on expenses incurred on the initial site.
The CCC, after its General Meeting on 7th of March 2021 accepted the outright replacement of the initially approved site and wrote a letter of appreciation to the Vice Chancellor, Prof. Muhammad Tanko on the 12th of April, 2021.
It is on record that the appreciation letter was neither denied nor refuted by the Management of the University.
Moreover, a verbal appreciation was also uttered by the CCC’s Coordinator, Dr Ishaya K Auta during the meeting of Congregation of the University held on the 3rd of May, 2021 at the 1000 capacity Lecture Theater as contained in the minutes of proceedings of the Congregation.
The Crux of the Disputes:
On the 15th of November 2021, the CCC mobilized to the new site to commence construction work in earnest when the Registrar of the University, Mr Samuel S Manshop and the Director of Physical Planning & Development, Arc. Y M Ashiru suddenly came to site and gave a verbal order to stop work immediately for no reason.
The Registrar came to site on three different occasions to threaten and harass workers and staff on the instruction and orders of the Vice Chancellor, Prof Muhammad Tanko. Looking at the sudden turn of events, one is forced to ask; “What happened to the outcome of the meeting of 14th October 2020?”
The Vice Chancellor again called for an emergency meeting with the CCC officials on the 19th of November, 2021 which was held in his conference room.
During the meeting, the Vice Chancellor told the CCC that the Director, Physical Planning & Development, Arc Y M Ashiru has reallocated the said land space (site 2) meant for the Chapel building to the Chairman House Committee on Education, Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon Ibrahim Nadabo to build a Guest House.
Following the meeting with the Vice Chancellor, the CCC held an emergency General Meeting and consented to the fact that a place of worship for the Christian Community in KASU was long overdue and condemned in totality the manner in which the University Management is foot dragging the whole issue.
On the 22nd of November 2021, the CCC wrote a petition to the 2021 Kaduna State University Visitation Panel. After due consultation and findings, the Panel acknowledged that CCC could not use the initial allocated land space due to the on-going construction of the Tropicana Students’ Hostel on the site.
However, the panel recognized the two allocated land spaces approved by the Vice Chancellor as an outright replacement of the former and promised to capture it as a recommendation in her final report.
Events leading to the Demolition of the Church Site.
On the 7th of January 2022, the CCC received a notice of “stop work” from an unlikely source; the Registry of the University instead of The Directorate of Physical Planning and Development.
The CCC building Committee left the two sites following the directive on the content of the letter.
On the 29th of March 2022, after 11 weeks of long silence from the University Management, CCC wrote another reminder to the Vice Chancellor notifying him of resumption to site to continue the church construction.
The CCC had categorically stated to the Vice Chancellor to provide another site and also pay the expenses incurred should they want it to suspend work on the new site approved for the construction of the Protestant Chapel.
This was followed by another 4 weeks of silence and the building Committee eventually resumed to site on the 16th of May 2022 based on the position reached at its previous CCC general congress.
While on site on the 2nd of June, 2022, the Acting Chief Security Officer of the University, Mr Markus Luka after a phone call from the Registrar, Mr Samuel Manshop, mobilized security personnel to harass, intimidate and disperse the workers on site. The workers obeyed the instructions and left after they had finished the mixed portion of cement.
The Building Committee resumed to site on the 4th of June 2022. While work was in progress at about 4:30pm the Director General of KASUPDA came to site and introduced himself as Mr Ismail Umaru Dikko.
He verbally threatened and warned the workers to stay away from the church construction site. He promised to crush all the cemented blocks and destroy the Church construction site the next time he comes.
He told the workers on site that he had written the Commissioner of Education, the Vice Chancellor KASU, and the DG KADGIS. He claimed to have informed them of an illegal structure going on without a building permit.
We need to emphasize here that KASUPDA had never written to or served any notice to the CCC regarding the Church project.
Behold, at about 1:45pm on 6th of June, 2022 workers on site suddenly saw a Caterpillar vehicle breaking the University fence in an attempt to gain access to the Church construction site. When it eventually did, it ran over all items on site.
Workers on site were harassed and intimidated as their phones were seized at gun point to prevent any attempted video coverage of the demolition.
The Caterpillar Vehicle came along side 4 trucks load of fully armed police personnel and few KASUPDA staff to monitor and supervise the demolition.
The seized phones were returned to the owners immediately the demolition exercise was over.
It is noteworthy that the Caterpillar Vehicle pulled down a stretch of the University’s fence to gain entrance and exit before and after demolition!
Our take on this is, why would the DG not write directly to the Church but use verbal threats? Why would KASUPDA demolish a structure yet to be marked for demolition based on its procedure?
Moreover, KASUPDA has no business as a regulatory body of physical structures in government owned institutions. KASU has a Directorate of Physical planning that oversees the construction of all buildings/structures.
The University has over a hundred structures without building permit from KASUPDA. So why is the case of the KASU Chapel different? Is KASUPDA trying to usurp the powers of the Directorate of Physical planning in KASU? We challenge the DG of KASUPDA to publish the building permits of all structures in the Kaduna State University in the spirit of fairness and equity.
It is disheartening that KASU in its 17 years of existence does not have a place of worship for the large Christian Community. Furthermore, CCC counted at- least five (5) places of worship for the other faith and without any for the Christian faith on campus.
We consider the foregoing to be a sensitive matter and if not properly handled, it could lead to break down of law and order.
The Christian Community has endured embarrassment, harassment and intimidation for too long in a University that is supposed to teach justice, equity and love for one another’s religious beliefs.
We want the Management of the University and the State Government to come clear over the matter on whether or not they want a Christian worship place in the Main Campus.
This will put to rest their seemingly dilly dallying attitude on the matter.
We want to also bring to the notice of the general public that there are two places of worship for the 2 major faiths in the Kafanchan Campus of the University. We then wonder why same isn’t the case in Kaduna Campus which is more populated.
It is our belief that there is a grand plan to sabotage, supplant and subdue the Christian Community on Campus as repeated demands for a written document from the Registrar and Director, Physical Planning and Development in KASU to state reasons the Chapel construction should be stopped has been to no avail as we speak.
Therefore, we call on all concerned authorities for a timely intervention in the interest of peace and tranquility. Please bear in mind that as an umbrella body of all Christians on campus, CCC will always follow the path of peace and dialogue to amicably resolve issues.
Dr. Ishaya K. Auta
Dr. Emmanuel D. Monday
For and on behalf of the Christian Community in KASU.