Southern Kaduna:  Communities Squabble Over Proposed 50mw Solar Power Project In Kaura

Southern Kaduna:  Communities Squabble Over Proposed 50mw Solar Power Project In Kaura

Southern Kaduna:  Communities Squabble Over Proposed 50mw Solar Power Project In Kaura

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By: Luka Binniyat

KADUNA – Maro’a community on one hand and Watyap, Atyap and Kagoro  communities on the other side, are pitched in hot squabble over the hosting of a proposed 50 Megawatt (Mw) solar power plant by private company,  Access  Quant Solar Power Limited on part of the expansive former  Manchok  Cattle Ranch, in Kaura Local Government Area (LGA), in Southern part of Kaduna state.

While, the Moroa community said they support the project, the other sides said they own 90% of the land and would rather the project be taken to other parts of their lands that are not arable, not the site approved by government for the controversial  project which they claimed as their ‘prime farmlands.’

Their differences became manifest yesterday in a joint  Press Statement signed by Chief Silas P. Bodams, Chairman, Central Planning and Coordinating Committee (CPCC) of the Landowning Communities of the Defunct Manchok Cattle Ranch and Dr. David Duniya Adams, President, Watyap Community Development Association (WCDA) made available to the press in Kaduna yesterday.

Reads part f the statement : “It has come to  our attention that a ‘Public Statement’ dated 2nd March 2018, has been issued by a ‘Moro’a Development Association Committee on Access Quaint Solar Nigeria Limited”, signed by one Nuhu Waney II. In the said “public statement,’ NuhuWaney claims to ‘articulate the position of the Moro’a Nation on the final position of the people of Moro’a Community …on the proposed (solar) project.’

“The Morao Development Association (MDA)DA and its committee falsely claim that the landowners are ‘some few self-serving members of our community objecting to the sitting (sic) of this wonderful energy plant in our community.’ This statement is almost a verbatim quotation of the speech by Arc. Yusuf Bala (Bantex), Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, at Moro’a Cultural Day celebration on 6thJanuary, 2018. The CPCC has already corrected the Deputy Governor’s erroneous views by showing that the landowners from seven communities came together to set up the CPCC to pursue the cause of securing their land.

“NuhuWaney and the MDA state that they are speaking for a so-called ‘consensus’ of the majority” of their community. The MDA further states that they regard the views of the landowners ‘as rebellious and representing the thinking of a small selfish segment of the population of our community, which should never be treated seriously in any quarters and by any authority.’

“The MDA and its committee rehashed statements by Mr. Nasir Aku, Director of Access Quaint Solar Nigeria Limited, on so-called ‘positive developments’ of the solar project to their community.

“The MDA, hiding behind the Nuhu Waney committee, says they ‘place on record’ their ‘unreserved commitment (sic) to the implementation of the project in (their) community,’ and ‘assure the company and its management of (their) hospitality and reception now and in the future’.

“On the “issues” raised by the MDA and its Access Quaint committee, the CPCC and WCDA observe as follows:

“That contrary to the claims by the Moro’a Chiefdom officials, the Moro’a Development Association (MDA) and Nuhu Waney, the proposed site for the solar project is not situated on land belonging to “Moro’a Nation. They are arguing that simply because Watyap community happens to be  in Moro’a Chiefdom, the Moro’a Chieftaincy can ‘accept’  the solar project and have it planted on land belonging to Watyap farmers without the consent of the landowners. This is the same argument being used to grab land belonging to several communities and hand it over to another private company, Vicampro Farms Limited on the same defunct cattle ranch

“This reasoning is from a gross and antiquated feudal posturing in the 21st century, and is unacceptable to the landowners because the land does not belong to ‘Moro’a Nation’ or Nuhu Waney’s ‘people of Moro’a Community.’

“The land in the defunct cattle ranch belongs to 12 communities, spread in three chiefdoms (Atyap, Kagoro and Moro’a), and in  two LGAs (Zangon Kataf and Kaura). Of the twelve communities, 90% of the land belongs to Watyap, Magatah, Jankasa, Kangwaza, Makwakwhu, Mafok, Makabun and Madamai, WHICH ARE NOT ASHOLIO (MORO’A) communities. Only about 10% of the land in the defunct cattle ranch belongs to Gizagwai, Kajim, Mahuta and Randiyam communities of Moro’a.

“ The truth must be stated that the Moro’a Traditional Council made sure that the section of the land in the defunct ranch belonging to the Asholio communities of Gizagwai, Mahuta and Randiyam was excluded from the land being grabbed by Access Quaint Solar Limited. How did NuhuWaney and the MDA manufacture their so-called ‘consensus of the majority’? When  has 10% of the population of landowners become the ‘majority’? It is obviously false propaganda and acts of desperation to claim that 90% of landowners are ‘few self-serving members’ of their community.

“On the so-called benefits from Access Quaint’s ‘wonderful energy plant’, the company and its MDA supporters are thinking only of their profits, and not the interests of the owners of the land. The landowners see no benefit in giving up their best farmlands on which their families are earning their living, for planting solar panels.

“Nowhere in the world are the prime farmlands of any community taken and converted for planting solar panels. It is simply very bad economics, and gross misuse of resources. The landowners suggested two alternative sites within Watyap, which are not being intensively cultivated, for the project, which Access Quaint flatly refused. The company instead offered to relocate the farmers to a rocky uncultivable area, and offered to import “super machines” from America to remove the rocks and make the land ‘cultivable’. Instead of seeing the sinister nature of Access Quaint’s position, appointees of the Kaduna State government took to several radio stations and social media to falsely accuse the landowners of being ‘anti development.’

“Nuhu Waney and the MDA are also economical with the truth, when they presume that the MDA has power to make land available to anybody. Their so-called ‘hospitality’ and ‘assurances’ of acceptance of the project are simply empty sounds. The MDA is a non-governmental organization and pressure group. While the Land Use Act recognizes the right of families to their ancestral and inherited lands, it has absolutely no provision for NGOs to play any role on land matters.

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JOINT STATEMENT BY

Central Planning And Coordinating Committee (CPCC) Of TheLandowning Communities Of The Defunct Manchok Cattle Ranch AND Watyap Community Development Association (WCDA)

 

ON THE “PUBLIC STATEMENT” BY MORO’A DEVELOPMENT ASSOCIATION COMMITTEE ON ACCESS QUAINT SOLAR NIGERIA LIMITED

It has come to the attention of the Central Planning and Coordinating Committee (CPCC) of the Landowning Communities of the Defunct Manchok Cattle Ranchand the Watyap Community Development Association (WCDA) that a “Public Statement” dated 2nd March 2018, has been issued by a “Moro’a Development Association Committee on Access Quaint Solar Nigeria Limited”, signed by one NuhuWaney II. In the said “public statement”, NuhuWaney claims to “articulate the position of the Moro’a Nation …on the final position of the people of Moro’a Community …on the proposed (solar) project”.

  1. The MDA and its committee falsely claim that the landowners are “some few self-serving members of our community objecting to the sitting (sic) of this wonderful energy plant in our community.” This statement is almost a verbatim quotation of the speech by Arc. Yusuf Bala (Bantex), Deputy Governor of Kaduna State, at Moro’a Cultural Day celebration on 6thJanuary, 2018. The CPCC has already corrected the Deputy Governor’s erroneous views by showing that the landowners from seven communities came together to set up the CPCC to pursue the cause of securing their land.
  2. NuhuWaney and the MDA state that they are speaking for a so-called “consensus of the majority” of their community. The MDA further states that they regard the views of the landowners “as rebellious and representing the thinking of a small selfish segment of the population of our community, which should never be treated seriously in any quarters and by any authority.”
  3. The MDA and its committee rehashed statements by Mr. NasirAku, Director of Access Quaint Solar Nigeria Limited, on so-called “positive developments” of the solar project to their community.
  4. The MDA, hiding behind the NuhuWaney committee, says they “place on record” their “unreserved commitment (sic) to the implementation of the project in (their) community”, and “assure the company and its management of (their) hospitality and reception now and in the future”.

On the “issues” raised by the MDA and its Access Quaint committee, the CPCC and WCDA observe as follows:

  1. Thatcontrary to the claims by the Moro’a Chiefdom officials, the Moro’a Development Association (MDA) and NuhuWaney, the proposed site for the solar project is not situated on land belonging to “Moro’a Nation”. They are arguing that simply because Watyap community is in Moro’a Chiefdom, the Moro’a Chieftaincy can “accept” the solar project and have it planted on land belonging to Watyap farmers without the consent of the landowners. This is the same argument being used to grab land belonging to several communities and hand it over to another private company, Vicampro Farms Limited. This reasoning is from a gross and antiquated feudal posturing in the 21st century, and is unacceptable to the landowners because the land does not belong to “Moro’a Nation” or NuhuWaney’s “people of Moro’a Community”.
  2. The land in the defunct cattle ranch belongs to 12 communities, spread in three chiefdoms (Atyap, Kagoro and Moro’a), and two LGAs (ZangonKataf and Kaura). Of the twelve communities, 90% of the land belongs to Watyap, Magatah, Jankasa, Kangwaza, Makwakwhu, Mafok, Makabun and Madamai, WHICH ARE NOT ASHOLIO (MORO’A) communities. Only about 10% of the land in the defunct cattle ranch belongs to Gizagwai, Kajim, Mahuta and Randiyam communities of Moro’a. The truth must be stated that the Moro’a Traditional Council made sure that the section of the land in the defunct ranch belonging to the Asholio communities of Gizagwai, Mahuta and Randiyam was excluded from the land being grabbed by Access Quaint Solar Limited. How did NuhuWaney and the MDA manufacture their so-called “consensus of the majority”? When has 10% of the population of landowners become the “majority”? It is obviously false propaganda and acts of desperation to claim that 90% of landowners are “few self-serving members” of their community.
  3. On the so-called benefits from Access Quaint’s “wonderful energy plant”, the company and its MDA supporters are thinking only of their profits, and not the interests of the owners of the land. The landowners see no benefit in giving up their best farmlands on which their families are earning their living, for planting solar panels. Nowhere in the world are the prime farmlands of any community taken and converted for planting solar panels. It is simply very bad economics, and gross misuse of resources. The landowners suggested two alternative sites within Watyap, which are not being intensively cultivated, for the project, which Access Quaint flatly refused. The company instead offered to relocate the farmers to a rocky uncultivable area, and offered to import “super machines” from America to remove the rocks and make the land “cultivable”. Instead of seeing the sinister nature of Access Quaint’s position,appointees of the Kaduna State government took to several radio stations and social media to falsely accuse the landowners of being “anti development”.
  4. NuhuWaney and the MDA are also economical with the truth, when they presume that the MDA has power to make land available to anybody. Their so-called “hospitality” and “assurances” of acceptance of the project are simply empty sounds. The MDA is a non-governmental organization and pressure group. While the Land Use Act recognizes the right of families to their ancestral and inherited lands, it has absolutely no provision for NGOs to play any role on land matters.
  • Even The 2013 Reviewed Constitution of the Moro’a Development Association (M.D.A.)does not give any organ of the Association powers over land matters. PartOne, Section 5,and First Schedule (a) – (f) of the MDA constitution are on the objectives of the Association, and there is no mention of their involvement in land matters.
  • Part One, Section 8, and 2ND Schedule, 2 (1) – (10)of the 2013 MDA Constitution are on the functions of the National Executive Committee, and make no provision for their meddling in land matters.
  • By the terms of Part One, Section 18 of the MDA constitution, theMoro’a Development Association Committee on Access Quaint Solar Nigeria Limited (NuhuWaney Committee) is illegal. Section 22.6.1 states:

“Ad-hoc Committees may be appointed by the National Executive Council, the National or Branch Executive Committee of the Association and assigned specific tasks.”

Contrary to the above provision, the MDA convened what they termed a “stakeholders meeting” on 20th January 2018 at the Women Centre Manchok. That was not a meeting of MDA organs as specified by Section 22.6.1 quoted above. The “briefing meeting” was attended by MDA officials, District Heads and members of Moroa Traditional Council, officials of Kagoro,Attakarand WatyapDevelopment Associations, several people from Atyap Chiefdom and others who are not members of the MDA. It was resolved at that meeting that no decisions could be taken by that gathering since it was just for Access Quaint to brief stakeholders on their “progress and challenges”.Rather shockingly, the Secretary General of MDA later sent text messages informing members of the CPCC that the stakeholders meeting of 20th January 2018 “decided to set up a committee”, a claim that was totally false. Members of the CPCC, Kagoro and Watyap Community Development Associations declined to serve on such a spurious committee.

It was later learned that the MDA Youth Wing, led by a serving Chief Superintendent of Police, Mr. KalatShamang, and Mr. Emmanuel Musa, a staff of Kaura LGC working in the Chief of Moroa’s Palace, put on pressure for the setting up of the NuhuWaney committee. Incidentally, the MDA in the 5TH Schedule (1) states:

“Membership of the National Youth Wing of the Association shall beof men and women of not more than 40 years of age.”

MessrsKalatShamang and Emmanuel Musa, respectively Chairman and Secretary of the MDA Youth Wing, are more than 50 yearsold, and thus illegal members of the MDA Youth Wing. Any actions they have taken, or caused to be taken, are also illegal, hence null and void.

 

Both the MDA and the Youth Wing should know that they couldn’t set up any committee to take land belonging to any community, even among the Asholio, and give it to another person or group, for whatever purpose. Instead, what has the MDA done?

  1. At a meeting of MDA Youth Wing on 10thFebruary, 2018, MDA Youth Wing threatened that Moro’a Youth shall go to Watyap to forcefully take the land and give it to Access Quaint, with or without the consent of the Watyap community, even if it would involve a physical fight. The Watyap Community Development Association Youth Wing has already written to His Royal Highness the Chief of Moroa, informing him of this dangerous move by the Moro’a Youth.
  2. On Monday 26th February, NuhuWaneyin the company of some Moroa youth from Zankan, Gizagwai and Bondon, some as far as 30 kilometres from Watyap, went to Watyap in the company of a large contingent of policemen, and proceeded to trample upon our land right behind our houses, covering an area two times wider than the area Access quaint is now claiming that Kaduna State Government has allocated to them. The intention was to provoke and fight with the Watyap Youth so as to give the Police the opportunity to shoot our people. In the interest of peace, Watyap youth refused to be drawn into any fight with the provocative crowd led by NuhuWaney.
  3. To demonstrate how desperateNuhuWaney and his group are, they convened a meeting on Friday 2nd March 2018, at Manchok, supposedly for Access Quaint to conduct a Social and Environmental Impact Assessment, without the participation of the Immediately Affected Community (IAC). Watyapcommunity and other landowners were not involved in that meeting, as the MDA has no power over land matters. Access Quaint, the private company desiring to set up the solar project, did not convene that meeting. Watyap, Kagoro and Atyap landowning communities were not at the meeting at whichWaney and MDA claim that a “majority consensus” was reached.

 

The politicians, Police Officers and civil servants who have been recruited by Access Quaint are demonstrating their level of desperation by their antics. Their use of traditional rulers and government institutions to grab the land having failed, they took to the radio houses and social media, and hired one Emmanuel Ado as media consultant, to rain abuses on the landowners. The use of the MDA and the MDA Youth Wing is a desperate act by the foreign paymasters and their local collaborators. Indeed, NuhuWaney, being a politician,and a staff of the National Bureau of Statistics, where facts are sacred, should be ashamed of himself for fighting against farmers and communities that are struggling for their rights. How can public servants, including security officers, paid from taxpayers’ money, accept to be used by land grabbers intent on depriving communities of their only means of livelihood?

There is no agreement whatsoever between the actual landowners and Access Quaint Solar Nigeria Limited. The company is using state power to seize the land and trample upon the rights of the farmers. We challenge Access Quaint to sit down and reach agreement with the actual landowners, as we are not opposed to generating electricity. Why should the company insist on taking the best farmland in the whole of Southern Kaduna for planting solar panels? There is something very sinister about this, as the motive is not to generate electricity. Access Quaint have threatened that if they must move from the best farmland to another location even within the same community, then the project must be aborted. This is very crude blackmail, which they have recruited the MDA, the Moro’a chiefs and the Kaduna State Government to enforce.

We want to make it abundantly clear that as peace loving and law abiding citizens, the landowners shall continue to protect their legal rights to their ancestral lands. Neither Waney, nor the MDA speak for the farmers who own the land in the defunct Manchok Cattle Ranch. They cannot “accept” a project on land they do not own. The MDA should be ignored, because their statement “accepting” Access Quaint, or any other company onto the land in the defunct ranch is illegal, null, void and of no effect. Furthermore, the MDA position is immoral because they are allowing themselves to be used to pursue personal and private interests against the wellbeing of the community. Access Quaint and their financiers should know that their project could only be sustained if the Immediately Affected Community is in support. Relying on MDA for “acceptance” and “assurances of hospitality”, when the landowners and the Immediately Affected Community is harassed, abused, and trampled upon using state power, feudal land agentsand sundry hirelings is simply not good business.

Chief Silas P. Bodams                                                                                        Dr. David Duniya Adams

Chairman, CPCC                                                                                                  President, WCDA

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