Recently, the Kwara state government demolished the family house of its former governor and senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki named ‘Ile Arugbo’ (house of the olds). In this analysis, ABDULRAHMAN ZAKARIYAU takes a critical look at the step taken by Governor Abdulrahman AbdulRazack led administration.
Accusations that led to demolitions
Upon assupmtion, Kwara State Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq had revoked some houses and properties allegedly illegally acquired by the former Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki with some of the properties marked for demolition.
Surprisingly, on 3rd January, 2020, like a new year gift, bulldozers sent by Kwara State Government stormed Plots 1, 3 and 5, Ilofa Road, Ilorin, the area where Ile Arugbo was built around 3:00am to tear down the building before Saraki’s supporters woke up from bed.
Justifying his action, the Governor explained that where the land “ile arugbo” was built on was originally meant for government secretariat and parking space for civil service clinic but was unlawfully allocated to a private firm Asa Investments Limited without any record of payment to the state government.
In attempt to have a legislative backing, the governor signed a constitutional instrument withdrawing the allocation of plots of land 1, 3 and 5 to the firm, asserting that the said land was unlawfully appropriated contrary to the purpose for which it was meant.
Governor Abdulrazaq also alleged that his predecessor, Abdulfatah Ahmed, sold about 110 properties belonging to the state government, including the residence of the Deputy Governor.
He explained further that “What we met was that they have sold virtually about 110 government properties, including the Deputy Governor’s residence; our Deputy Governor is staying in rented accommodation, they just shared everything,” the Governor said, referring to the previous state administration.
Interestingly, political pundits who condemned this act argued that the governor was out to victimized the Saraki’s due to a long time political rival between the Saraki’s and the Abdulrazaq’s family. They also queried that why only Saraki?
Demolition reunite Saraki, Gbemisola
For the first time since the death of the late Olusola Saraki, the former Senate President Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki and the Minister for state transport, Gbemisola Saraki with threw away party difference and condemned the state government.
In his reaction, former Senate President, Saraki stated that “Following the development this in Ile Arugbo, I want to commend the women and men, old and young, who displayed their affection, love and staunch support for my late father and the family.
“I appreciate the genuine support of the women and youths who stood firmly in the face of aggression and naked show of force. Your action throughout the night gave full expression to my belief that what Ile Arugbo represents to all of us is etched in our hearts. It goes beyond the physical structure. I am happy that you were not intimidated as you stood your ground”.
On her part, Gbemisola, who is also an APC chieftain in Kwara State, stated, “I condemn in totality the actions taken on Thursday 2nd January 2020 by Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq, especially unleashing terror and mayhem on innocent defenseless aged women simply exercising their right to peacefully protest.
“I call upon the Inspector General of Police to call the State Commissioner of Police to order – using security agencies and live ammunition to settle political and personal scores is not what the Buhari Administration is about.”
“As a staunch and loyal member of APC, I have kept quiet to date on the happenings in my state, Kwara State. I had done this for a number of reasons, including trying to keep my head when all about me are losing theirs. But all in all, I had kept quiet, as being a loyal member and supporter of the party. I did not want to get into any squabble with the Governor despite so many provocations.
” Again, as a loyal and dedicated daughter of my father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, whom I hold in very high esteem, I did not want to express my opinion on the propriety of the Governor’s recent political actions as it would be seen as biased because the late Waziri was my father.”
“I do not want my silence to be misconstrued, as mischief makers have used that silence to attribute false statements allegedly made by me.
“The level of force and violence that the Governor chose to adopt was totally unwarranted. What resistance to protest justifies firing live ammunition and tear gassing old women? Even my own personal home was not left out of the attack as numerous empty bullet shell casings and dispersed tear gas cannisters were found inside my home.
The land we sold, followed due process – Ex Gov. Ahmed
Reacting to the Governor Abdulrazaq allegations, that the immediate past administration in the state sold off 110 properties in the state, including the Deputy Governor’s house.
Former governor, Abdulfatah Ahmed in a statement issued by his media aide, Dr Muyideen Akorede, disputed the conflicting figures cited by the governor and added that they followed due process.
Ahmed who also absolved his administration of any wrongdoing regarding the sale of government properties stated “My administration followed due process in selling some government quarters to civil servants, and members of the 7th Kwara State House of Assembly on owner-occupier basis following state Executive Council approval”.
As expected, a Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin and presided over by Justice A. A Adebara, has fixed January 15 for hearing on Motion of Notice on a suit filed by Asa Investments Limited on the disputed land on which the late Second Republic Senate Leader, Dr Abubakar Olusola Sarakai’s Ile Arugbo( Old People’s Home) was built.
Kwara state governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq, Kwara State House of Assembly, Kwara state Attorney General, Director General, Kwara Bureau of Lands and the Inspector General of Police are the defendants in the suit.
The court also upon a motion Ex- Parte and the supporting affidavit dated and filed on January 2, 2020, and after listening to the claimant’s ( Asa Investments Limited) counsel, Mr A.A Ibrahim, restrained the defendants and anyone acting on their behalf from further demolishing or further destroying the alleged property of the claimant.
Upon a motion Ex- Parte and the supporting affidavit dated and filed on 2nd day of January 2020. After listening to Mr A.A Ibrahim, counsel to the claimant/ applicant and after a careful perusal of 25 paragraphs affidavits and the attached exhibits in support of the motion ex- parte, it is hereby ordered that:
” The defendants either by themselves, their officers, servants, agents, privies, or successor in title or any person howsoever claiming in trust for the defendants are hereby restrained from further demolishing or further destroying the alleged property of the claimant/applicant known and described as plots 1,3 and 5 with TPS/MISC.129A and survey plan No.KWSH927 and Land/G1071 situate, lying and being beside Civil Service Clinic, along Ilofa road, G.R.A, Ilorin, Kwara state on which the claimant has a building popularly known as Ile Arugbo( Old People’s Home), the subject matter of the substantive suit pending the hearing and determination of motion on notice.
” The motion on notice is hereby scheduled for hearing against Wednesday 15- O1- 2020. Application granted in part as per the above orders. Given at Ilorin under the seal of the court and the hand of the presiding Judge this 6th day of January, 2020,” the court ordered.
Group sue for peace
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Stakeholders’ Forum in Ilorin West Local Government Area of Kwara State urged Governor AbdulRazaq and former Senate President Saraki to sheathe their swords over the old people’s home.
Addressing reporters in Ilorin, the state capital, Chairman of the forum, Alhaji Abdukjlkadir Oba Ajara, appealed to Governor AbdulRazaq to toe the path of peace.
He said “Our appeal is to the two combatants, who are from Ilorin West Local Government Area, to sheathe their swords. Ilorin West is a prime local government in the state. If it goes haywire, it will reverberate throughout the remaining 15 local government areas.
“I urge our people not to allow self-centred people to turn our state into the centre of violence. We all know what happened in Kogi State. We should maintain decorum. We should not be causing trouble…
“We don’t want Ilorin West to set Kwara ablaze. So, we call on Governor AbdulRazaq to take charge to ensure peaceful co-existence and harmonious relationship in all parts of the state,” Ajara said.
The court will decide – Analyst
In a phone chat with Blueprint, a political analyst, Aminu Mohammed express hope that the court will decide who owns the land.
He said ” the Saraki and Abdulrazaq’s families are old political rivals. Also, remember that When Saraki became the governor of the state he also went after the late Mohammed Lawal’s investment in the state. I think its becoming a style in Kwara politics.
” Though it is wrong to go after your opponent’s investment with the aim to to run him or her down. But the question is are those lands genuinely acquired? That is for the court to answer. It is however good for the two parties and families in to be careful not to cause violence in a peaceful Kwara state.