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Old animosities at play as Kwara government dares the Sarakis

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Bukola Saraki


• No Going Back On Demolition, Revocation Order — Ajadi
• Let AbdulRasak Think Of Tomorrow — Shittu

The battle line appears drawn between the Kwara State government and the family of the late doyen of the state politics, the late Dr. Olusola Saraki over the planned revocation by the government of about an hectare of land in Ilorin, the state capital, alleged to have been legally acquired by the late politician. The arrowheads of the battle that may eventually assume a titanic legal dimension are the state Governor Mallam AbdulRahaman AbdulRasak, on one side and the heir of the late politician, Dr. Bukola Saraki and the Minister of State for Transport, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, who has described the demolition of her father’s legacy as ‘’taking politics beyond the normal level.’’

AbdulRasak had penultimate Friday, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary Rafiu Ajakaye said the revocation of the said line was in order, alleging improper allocation of it to Saraki, just as he said the land would be confiscated as government property.But Saraki, through his press attaché, Yusup Olaniyonu in a statement personally signed by him alleged unwarranted and unprovoked action from the Governor against his late father.

Besides, he said, major steps taken by the Governor since his assumption of office were allegedly aimed at erasing the legacies of his late father, urging the Governor to instead be focused on the need to churn out true dividends of democracy to the people of the state. Matters went beyond verbal jabs on Thursday, last week, when according to Alhaji Bibire Ajape, who is the Chairman of Saraki People’s Forum (SPF), agents of the Kwara State Governor, as led by one of his aides in the early hours of Thursday January 2, 2020 demolished the structures on Plots 1, 3 and 5, otherwise known as Ile Arugbo (aged People’s Home), which belong to late Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki, after heavy firing of gunshots and tear gas canisters to scare away the women and youths who had kept kept vigil on the land since New Year eve.

The overnight demolition squad, Ajape said eventually set to work after four failed attempts, which were resisted by old women and youths who always gather at the Ile Arugbo to benefit from the social welfare Programme initiated by the late politician about 20 years ago. The old women had resisted previous attempts to carry out the illegal demolition exercise between the morning of December 31, 2019 and very early hours of January 2, 2020.
 
Ajape, on behalf of the family of Saraki stated that following the announcement by the Governor that he had revoked the title on the land, which had been rightfully possessed by late Saraki for more than 20 years, prompted the family of the deceased politician to file a case at the High Court, Ilorin, on December 31, 2019, challenging the action. 

The suit with Number KWS/463/2019 between Asa Investments Limited and Governor of Kwara State, Kwara House of Assembly, Attorney General of Kwara State, Director General of the Bureau of Lands and the Inspector General of Police was filed on Tuesday, December 31st 2019.He added that, ‘’in an obviously desperate attempt to pre-empt the court case, the State Governor directed one of his aides to lead a demolition team to the property on Tuesday morning accompanied by some policemen. However, the policemen withdrew when they saw the crowd of old women and youths who gathered to protest the illegal demolition exercise. With the withdrawal of the policemen, the team from the state government was forced to quickly leave the place.
 
“Some hours later, exactly a few minutes to the New Year, about 11.45pm, the particular aide led another team, this time with a bulldozer and some policemen massed around the premises of Ile Arugbo, but were again resisted by the crowd of women and youth who had then decided to mount a ceaseless vigil around the property.

“Early this morning (Thursday, January 2, 2020 from 12.40am, while the old women and youth were having their New Year entertainment as they mount watch on the premises of Ile Arugbo, the aide again led a team of demolition squad comprising security agents from the Government House, Ilorin, workers of the Ministry of Works and some urchins to Ilofa Street. 
 
“For hours, their attempt to commence the demolition exercise was rebuffed. At about 3.30am, the security agents began heavy shooting of gun and tear gas canisters to dislodge the people protesting against the demolition. It was after they were able to disperse the crowd that the bulldozer moved into the street and commenced the demolition exercise.
 
“It will be recalled that while the Governor on December 27 claimed that there was no existing document showing that the land was properly allocated to late Dr. Saraki, the same government through its agent on Monday circulated a letter of allocation to Asa Investments owned by Dr. Saraki in which the company was directed to pay the sum of N1, 047, 090 (One Million, Forty Seven Thousand and Ninety Naira only).

‘’The government then changed its story that the property was allocated to a company, which had nothing to do with any politician, dead or alive and that they could not find any record of money paid. The Saraki family has maintained that a Right of Occupancy title was issued to Asa Investment, an indication that the allocation was lawfully concluded with all parties meeting their obligations.

“The pre-emptive move by the state government to demolish the property was made to undermine and frustrate the judicial process and it represents another act of disrespect for the judiciary and the rule of law, which the current government of Kwara State is known for.“While we praise the security agencies in the state for refusing to supply their men from the respective commands to participate in the Midnight Demolition Exercise, we call on them to also caution their men attached to the Government House to stop being used to settle political scores and avoid participating in illegal actions of the State Government. It is also important for them to caution the Governor to stop escalating tension in the state.

“On our part, we call on supporters of the Saraki family, particularly the women and youth who were brutalized during the attempts to carry out the illegal demolition exercise to maintain peace and not take laws into their hands. We assure them that this illegality will not stand, as the family will pursue all legal means to claim the rights of their late patriarch.“The family will like to wish all the numerous supporters of Oloye a happy and prosperous year 2020,” Ajape noted.Gov. AbdulRasak had on the last Friday of 2019 in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary Rafiu Ajakaye insisted that the revocation of the said property was in order, alleging improper allocation of it to Saraki, just as he said the land would be confiscated into government property.

The Chairman of the state’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Shittu urged the Sarakis family to implore all ‘’the legal means possible’’ to reclaim the land.His counterpart from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bashiru Omolaja said the state government would use ‘’legal means allowed by the nation’s Constitution to wrest people’s property from an individual.’’Saraki, former Senate President, stated that the Kwara State Governor, has crossed the line of decency with his recent efforts to erase the legacies of his (Saraki’s) late father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki.

But Senator Makanjuola Ajadi who was also the Chairman of the Kwara State Property Recovery Committee said there was no going back on the order of the Governor.Ajadi reminded how Saraki on assumption of office in 2004 as governor allegedly revoked many property ownership, citing the aborted plan to relocate the people of Idi Ape from their ancestral land, ‘’just because Saraki’s predecessor, Mohammed Lawal of blessed memory was from the place. God is not asleep. A man will reap whatever he sowed.”

For Ajadi, a stalwart of the APC, the one-storey building adjoining the land in question and legally owned by Saraki was not the issue in contention but the land.According to him, ‘’that piece of land was originally marked as the state Secretariat Phase Three. We saw this on the official gazette during our investigations. In fact, the foundation stone of the proposed Secretariat had already been laid. I think when Saraki got to power as governor of the state; he gave it to one company by the name ‘Asa Investment’ which is a non-existing company in the records of transactions in the state. Let Saraki go to any court, we are ready for him.

‘’No record of such an allocation to ‘Asa’ is found in the state’s relevant records. Therefore, no government would allow such a thing. He went to take over a place and christened it ‘Ile Arugbo’ (aged peoples’ home). It is a political square harbouring all manner of people. It is a shanty. Saraki should be ashamed of himself because his own revocation wars against commoners, was much. It is only one land revoked from him now that is making him angry.’’

Saraki had in the statement he personally signed and released in Lagos on Saturday December 28, 2019 stated that the war of attrition waged against the legacy of his father and everything that belongs to the late politician simply portrayed the Governor as a man who lacks the sense of history and set out only to fight the Saraki family but not to serve the interest of Kwarans.Shittu, the state PDP Chairman, while viewing the development with a disdainful look cautioned the Governor against any attempt aimed at seizing the land. He described Saraki as an international figure who could make governance miserable for AbdulRasak.

Even though no one was willing to confirm it, it appeared there was no love lost between the late Saraki and the nonagenarian father of the incumbent Governor, popularly called A.G.F. AbdulRasak, regarded as the first lawyer in the defunct Northern Nigeria to bag the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)

For Shittu, in a covert confirmation of the rumoured animosity, ‘’even if both the father of the incumbent Governor and Saraki’s father never stayed on the same page over many issues, I think it is most appropriate for their children to relate well. Besides, the Governor should think of a tomorrow when another person from Saraki’s camp could emerge as governor of the state.He added: ‘’Saraki, known as Baba Oloye had immensely contributed to the growth of this state. Even if his company by the name Asa Investment had no valid Right of Occupancy over the land, the most appropriate thing was for the state government to ask his children to obtain such. From the press statement of the former Senate President, I think there is a Right of Occupancy on it. So why the revocation order?

‘’For about 30 years, Oloye had enjoyed quiet possession of the land. Governor AbdulRasak should tread softly over the issue. He should shun wrong advice. The family of Saraki has by the action of the Governor, drawn more sympathy from friends and associates. We are all citizens of Kwara. The children of Saraki will not fold their hands and allow any injustice to the property of their late father.’’

In the same vein Saraki noted: ‘’Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq finally showed his true colour when he announced his decision to revoke the ownership of a property rightfully held by my late father, Dr. Olusola Abubakar Saraki on Plots 1, 3 and 5 Ilofa Road, GRA, Ilorin popularly known as Ile Arugbo, (Old People’s home), which has for over two decades been used to host the weekly gathering of a multitude of aged people in the society who are provided food, money and health services, as part of the social welfare programme sponsored by the late politician. The tradition has since been maintained.

“Before now, this same Governor had invited all the members of the State House of Assembly and directed them to commence the process of amending the law to change the name of the State University, which the last administration renamed after my late father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. He then followed up on this act of vengeance by initiating a bill to rename the University and expunge the name of the late Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. Now, he has decided to also revoke the titles of the landed property, which belongs to the late politician. May be, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq thinks his, will be the last administration in Kwara State but definitely, this is self-delusion.

He added: “If the Governor believes people are not taking stock of his misguided and deceptive actions and that because he is in power, he could do whatever he likes, he must be a joker. Also, this war against the Sarakis will not successfully veil his unpreparedness for governance and divert people’s attention from the glaring lack of visionary, clear-cut plan to deliver on his empty promises to the people. He definitely cannot get away with all the atrocities he has been committing.”

Meanwhile, a non Governmental Organisation- Kwara Legacy Network has condemned the revocation of plots of land belonging to the late Second Republic Senate Leader Dr. Olusola Saraki by the Kwara state government.The group, in a statement described the development as a threat to the peaceful co-existence of Ilorin community and the entire state.In its own statement signed by its coordinator, Mallam Isola Bello, Kwara Legacy Network advised Governor AbdulRahman to avoid acts capable of heating up the polity and create tension in the state.

It further advised him to squarely face the task of governance and implement policies that would make life bearable for the residents instead of indulging in any act that would set the people against themselves.It added that, “ the state government should have looked elsewhere if it wants to construct a new state secretariat rather than acquiring the late Olusola Saraki’s land at this time.

“There is no doubt that late Olusola Saraki contributed his quota to the development and growth of Ilorin and Kwara in general. The administration ought to have looked elsewhere in Ilorin to build its new state secretariat. The acquisition of late Olusola Saraki’s land at Ilofa GRA, Ilorin is not good for a healthy political environment as it will create tension among the residents of Ilorin community and the entire state in general, “it stated.

Meanwhile, statistics of opinions shared on the extant issue in some of the audience participatory programs of radio stations in the state have shown that support for the revocation and against it are at par, leaving out the judiciary as the final arbiter on it.

But Saraki, through his press attaché, Yusup Olaniyonu in a statement personally signed by him alleged unwarranted and unprovoked action from the Governor against his late father.Besides, he said, major steps taken by the Governor since his assumption of office were allegedly aimed at erasing the legacies of his late father, urging the Governor to instead be focused on the need to churn out true dividends of democracy to the people of the state.

The Chairman of the state’s Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Kola Shittu urged the Sarakis family to implore all ‘’the legal means possible’’ to reclaim the land.His counterpart from the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), Bashiru Omolaja said the state government would use ‘’legal means allowed by the nation’s Constitution to wrest people’s property from an individual.’’Saraki, former Senate President, stated that the Kwara State Governor, has crossed the line of decency with his recent efforts to erase the legacies of his (Saraki’s) late father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki.

But Senator Makanjuola Ajadi who was also the Chairman of the Kwara State Property Recovery Committee said there was no going back on the order of the Governor.Ajadi reminisced on how Saraki on assumption of office in 2004 as governor allegedly revoked many property ownership, citing the aborted plan to relocate the people of Idi Ape from their ancestral land, ‘’just because Saraki’s predecessor, Mohammed Lawal of blessed memory was from the place. God is not asleep. A man will reap whatever he sowed.”

For Ajadi, a stalwart of the APC, the one-storey building adjoining the land in question and legally owned by Saraki was not the issue in contention but the land.According to him, ‘’that piece of land was originally marked as the state Secretariat Phase Three. We saw this on the official gazette during our investigations. In fact, the foundation stone of the proposed Secretariat had already been laid. I think when Saraki got to power as governor of the state; he gave it to one company by the name ‘Asa Investment’ which is a non-existing company in the records of transactions in the state. Let Saraki go to any court, we are ready for him.

‘’No record of such an allocation to ‘Asa’ is found in the state’s relevant records. Therefore, no government would allow such a thing. He went to take over a place and christened it ‘Ile Arugbo’ (aged peoples’ home). It is a political square harbouring all manner of people. It is a shanty. Saraki should be ashamed of himself because his own revocation wars against commoners, was much. It is only one land revoked from him now that is making him angry.’’

Saraki had in the statement he personally signed and released in Lagos on Saturday December 28, 2019 stated that the war of attrition waged against the legacy of his father and everything that belongs to the late politician simply portrayed the Governor as a man who lacks the sense of history and set out only to fight the Saraki family but not to serve the interest of Kwarans.

Shittu, the state PDP Chairman, while viewing the development with a disdainful look cautioned the Governor against any attempt aimed at seizing the land. He described Saraki as an international figure who could make governance miserable for AbdulRasak.Even though no one was willing to confirm it, it appeared there was no love lost between the late Saraki and the nonagenarian father of the incumbent Governor, popularly called A.G.F. AbdulRasak, regarded as the first lawyer in the defunct Northern Nigeria to bag the title of Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN)

For Shittu, in a covert confirmation of the rumoured animosity, ‘’even if both the father of the incumbent Governor and Saraki’s father never stayed on the same page over many issues, I think it is most appropriate for their children to relate well. Besides, the Governor should think of a tomorrow when another person from Saraki’s camp could emerge as governor of the state.He added: ‘’Saraki, known as Baba Oloye had immensely contributed to the growth of this state. Even if his company by the name Asa Investment had no valid Right of Occupancy over the land, the most appropriate thing was for the state government to ask his children to obtain such. From the press statement of the former Senate President, I think there is a Right of Occupancy on it. So why the revocation order?

‘’For about 30 years, Oloye had enjoyed quiet possession of the land. Governor AbdulRasak should tread softly over the issue. He should shun wrong advice. The family of Saraki has by the action of the Governor, drawn more sympathy from friends and associates. We are all citizens of Kwara. The children of Saraki will not fold their hands and allow any injustice to the property of their late father.’’

In the same vein Saraki noted: ‘’Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq finally showed his true colour when he announced his decision to revoke the ownership of a property rightfully held by my late father, Dr. Olusola Abubakar Saraki on Plots 1, 3 and 5 Ilofa Road, GRA, Ilorin popularly known as Ile Arugbo, (Old People’s home), which has for over two decades been used to host the weekly gathering of a multitude of aged people in the society who are provided food, money and health services, as part of the social welfare programme sponsored by the late politician. The tradition has since been maintained.

“Before now, this same Governor had invited all the members of the State House of Assembly and directed them to commence the process of amending the law to change the name of the State University, which the last administration renamed after my late father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. He then followed up on this act of vengeance by initiating a bill to rename the University and expunge the name of the late Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki. Now, he has decided to also revoke the titles of the landed property, which belongs to the late politician. May be, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq thinks his, will be the last administration in Kwara State but definitely, this is self-delusion.

He added: “If the Governor believes people are not taking stock of his misguided and deceptive actions and that because he is in power, he could do whatever he likes, he must be a joker. Also, this war against the Sarakis will not successfully veil his unpreparedness for governance and divert people’s attention from the glaring lack of visionary, clear-cut plan to deliver on his empty promises to the people. He definitely cannot get away with all the atrocities he has been committing.”

Meanwhile, a Non-Governmental Organisation- Kwara Legacy Network has condemned the revocation of plots of land belonging to the late Second Republic Senate Leader Dr. Olusola Saraki by the Kwara state government.The group, in a statement described the development as a threat to the peaceful co-existence of Ilorin community and the entire state.

In its own statement signed by its coordinator, Mallam Isola Bello, Kwara Legacy Network advised Governor AbdulRahman to avoid acts capable of heating up the polity and create tension in the state.It further advised him to squarely face the task of governance and implement policies that would make life bearable for the residents instead of indulging in any act that would set the people against themselves.It added that, “ the state government should have looked elsewhere if it wants to construct a new state secretariat rather than acquiring the late Olusola Saraki’s land at this time.

“There is no doubt that late Olusola Saraki contributed his quota to the development and growth of Ilorin and Kwara in general. The administration ought to have looked elsewhere in Ilorin to build its new state secretariat. The acquisition of late Olusola Saraki’s land at Ilofa GRA, Ilorin is not good for a healthy political environment as it will create tension among the residents of Ilorin community and the entire state in general, “it stated.

Meanwhile, statistics of opinions shared on the extant issue in some of the audience participatory programs of radio stations in the state have shown that support for the revocation and against it are at par, leaving out the judiciary as the final arbiter on it.


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