NAF/Barakallahu land dispute: Military clears air
From ABDULGAFAR ALABELEWE, Kaduna
Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Nigerian Air Force (NAF) has expressed dismay over allegation by the host community, Barakallahu, of forced eviction and demolition of the community’s houses and destruction of farmlands around the Base in Kaduna.

This is coming on the heels of Monday morning’s demonstration by hundreds of women who took over the major Kaduna-Zaria Expressway protesting against their forced eviction by the NAF from their ancestral home at a village behind Barakallahu, near Rigachikun, a satellite town in Kaduna. The women were challenging NAF authority who had already mobilised workers to the site to build perimeter fence around the occupied community’s residences, farmlands and graveyards.

Meanwhile, in an interactive forum with newsmen at the Air Force Base in Kaduna yesterday, the Commander of 335 Base Service Group, Air Commodore Musbau Soladoye said NAF was not a tyrant organisation and had no intention to destroy anybody’s structure. He wondered why the complaint by the community, which, according to him, had enjoyed cordial relationship with NAF for decades, even after earlier extensive discussions with leadership of the host community over the issue.

“We rely on those people for the maintenance of security and they have been our neighbours with many of their children who grew up with us. I want to believe that people are inciting the residents against the Air Force because those people thrive on making trouble and causing public unrest,” Soladoye opined.

He, however, lamented that the community had continued to encroach on the NAF territory, saying “that is why the government and the traditional institutions in the state, in their continued resolve towards finding a lasting solution to the problem, convened a meeting with representatives of government, representatives of the Emir of Zazzau, Dr. Shehu Idris and the three leaders of Barakallahu, including the disputed leader of Ungwan Waziri, Samaila Waziri, in my office on Monday where an agreement was reached.”

According to the commander, “it was agreed that the demarcation exercise should continue and to stop demarcation up to places we do not have residential buildings. The meeting also resolved that the leadership of Barakallahu would be held responsible for any security breach in the area because they have been adequately consulted and what the NAF is doing is in line with what the government has put in place. The fourth agreement is that we are doing the demarcation in line with 2008 government agreement.”

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