Human Rights

Tension in Asaba over plans to dislodge arewa community

There is tension in the Cable Point Area of Asaba following what residents described as plans to evict them from the area they claim to have resided in for over 200 years.

The development followed plans by the Delta State Government in conjunction with a private development company, Rexwood Nigeria Limited, to convert the area into “smart city” that will include “leisure to playground, hotels, shopping malls, office complexes, residency quarters and luxury apartments” in what has been termed “New Dubai.”

Members of the community said they were approached three months ago by one Mr. Ubaka J. Ubaka with proposals to relocate them in order to build the New Dubai. They said they kicked against the move because he did not provide any clear plans for their future. “We have been living here for over 200 years,” the Sarkin Hausa of Asaba, Alhaji Ibrahim Baba Gero said. “I was born here. My father was born here and my grandfather was born here. They came to trade and settled here and this is home for us. We contribute to the economy of this place; we have huge markets here and are engaged in legitimate businesses. The graves of our ancestors are here and now they are asking us to leave our houses,” he said.

Cable Point is a sprawling residential and market area in Asaba with over 2000 houses and shops. The Hausa community said they have about 20 houses of worship in the area and their shops and business places.

In the last week, tensions peaked when some men came to the community and started X-marking houses in the area. Members of the community mobilised and chased them out.

“A week ago, some men came and started marking our houses,” Danazumi Malam Garba, a youth leader in the area said. “We heard rumours of this three months ago. We went to ask the DG of the Asaba Development Authority and he confirmed that this was the case but there is no date for the project yet. We told him we are not interested in relocating.

“And then a week ago, some men came and started marking houses with red paints, until they marked about 71 houses. The Arewa community has 109 houses here. They were marking houses and handing out power of attorney documents to illiterate people and asking them to sign them,” he said.

The Sarkin Hausa, however, told the Daily Trust on Sunday that the Director General of the Delta State Capital Territory Development Agency (DSCTDA), Chief Clement Ofuani had told them that they would be evicted from their houses to make way from the project.

“He said we must leave,” Baba Gero said.

The development has led the community to petition the Police, the Northern Governors’ Forum, the DG of the Department of State Services, the Emirs of Kano and Zazzau, among others in a letter dated 9th November, 2017 and titled “The Neferious Activities of Ubaka Johnson Ubaka.”

In the petition, signed by the Sarkin Hausa, the community accused Mr. Ubaka of serving “Power of attorney” in the Hausa community of Cable Point, (Ogbe Hausa).

The residents vowed to resist any attempt to force them out of the area.

Alh. Gero, who said his community is 30, 000-strong, insisted that they don’t have plans to leave because they have no other home than Cable Point, where their ancestors graves have been buried since the 19th century.

“In compound alone, I have over 100 occupants. My father was Sarki and he was buried here in the compound housing the palace, same as his father. In most houses, you would find graves. Our cemetery is also located within Cable Point and we have over 10,000 grave sites there.

“We have reached out to our leaders in the North to intervene and stop the Delta State Government from this planned eviction. We have petitioned to the Sultan of Sokoto, the Arewa Consultative Forum, the Inspector General of Police and other security agencies.

Taken from Daily Trust

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