Hundreds of workers of the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, have held a peaceful protest over the alleged encroachment on the school’s College of Agriculture and Animal Science land by the Kaduna State Government.
The disputed land is located in Mando, Igabi local government area.
The protesting workers, including members of the Academic Staff Union of Universities, Non-Academic Staff Union of Universities, and other in-house unions of the institution, stormed the college carrying placards with various inscriptions to register their displeasure and to call on the state government to stop further action on the land with immediate effect.
The ABU ASUU Chairman, who led the protest, described the government’s action as despicable and in clear conflict with Section 49(1) of the Land Use Act of 2004, which exempts federal government lands from management and control of state governors.
The College of Agriculture and Animal Science, Mando, was established in the 1950s as a veterinary training centre of the then Northern Nigeria government.
The school covers a landmass of about 365 hectares.
It was later transferred to the ABU, Zaria, in 1971 to train students with sufficient technical knowledge and adequate practical skills in livestock management.
But the Kaduna State government, early this year, decided to take some portions of the land for development purposes and has already commenced the process of creating access roads and clearing the bushes.
During their protest, the ABU workers chanted anti-government songs, accusing the Kaduna State government of playing double standards despite a valid court order which restrained it from taking over the land.
They marched around the school premises and later proceeded to the disputed land where they disrupted the works on the site.
They also urged the management of the ABU to withdraw the certificate of Governor Nasir El-Rufai, who is an alumnus of the university.
In its reaction, the Kaduna State government accused the ABU management of double standards, stating that the school violated one of the conditions of which the land was allocated to it. According to the government, the institution sold some portions of the land to individuals rather than using it for the purpose of agricultural development and livestock production which it was meant for.
Ismail Umaru-Dikko, the Director-General of Kaduna State Urban Planning DevelopmentAuthority, told Channels Television that the management of the college illegally sold about 80 hectares of the land without recourse to the Kaduna State governor who is the custodian of all lands in the state.
This, he said, is a clear violation of the Kaduna State Land Use Administration Law, as the college does not have the legal right to excise any portion of the land outside the purpose of agricultural development and livestock production of which the land was allocated to the school from the onset.
The state government has, however, stated its willingness to allocate fresh land to the college in a different location if there is a genuine reason to do so.