The Kwara State government has finally demolished the property belonging to the Second Republic Senate Leader, the late Dr. Olusola Saraki, located along Ilofa road, GRA, Ilorin. The demolition, according to eyewitness accounts, was effected early Thursday morning by the officials of the state government. It was further learnt that the demolition of the house by the government was to avoid any court injunction that might prevent the government from taking any action since the Saraki family had instituted a court action on the property.
The scion of the Saraki family and former President of the Senate, Dr. Bukola Saraki, the kinsmen of Agbajj community where Saraki hails from in Ilorin and Kwara Agenda Network, among others, have been making allegations and counter allegations on the move by the state government to demolish the late Olusola Saraki’s campaign house in Ilorin. The state government on its part on Wednesday released details of the hues and cries surrounding the revocation and planned demolition of the house. The state government through the Director General, Bureau of Lands, Alhadji Ibrahim Salman, in a statement he personally signed in Ilorin, said: “The entire land was acquired in the 1970s for overriding public interest and same was initially designed to host the phase II of the State Secretariat.
“The construction of the said State Secretariat Phase II was actually commenced and it was at superstructure level before same was abandoned. The entire land was later redesigned in the 1980s for the construction of a Civil Service Clinic, State Secretariat, and a parking lot for both the clinic and the state secretariat. The clinic was subsequently constructed in 1982, while the remaining plots of land were conceived for the expansion of the clinic into a full-fledged hospital. The dream of the state government was stalled when part of the land slated for the parking lot was spuriously allocated in principle to one Asa Investment for commercial purpose. From available records, the allocation was not based on a formal application, nor application forms filled; there was no evidence of payment for the said allocation as stipulated in the letter of allocation in principle and consequently, no right of occupancy was ever issued to the company.”
However, on Thursday, the state government effected the demolition after the police personnel deployed in the area dispersed the old women, who had been keeping virgil at the property, with tear gas and gunshots. Images from the area showed that all the structures on the land have been cleared by bulldozers. Most of the sympathizers, who thronged the area, said: “The Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrasaq, should have listened to the words of wisdom from the well-meaning Nigerians on the need to ensure peace in Ilorin by staying away from demolishing the Saraki’s house at Ilofa road.” They therefore called for peace and calm among the residents of Ilorin community so as to avoid any action capable of creating palpable tension in the state.
Meanwhile, the Kwara state chapter of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned Governor Abdulrazaq for demolishing the property; saying in a statement by its chairman, Kola Shittu, that: “the demolition of the building portrays Governor Abdulrazaq as a man who does not have regard for due process and respect for the rule of law in view of the fact that the subject matter is currently before the court.” The statement said: “The matter is currently in court and it is only the court that can give a final decision. The case with suit number KWS/463/2019 is between Asa Investments Ltd vs 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. With the matter in the court, one would expect that the Governor would stay all actions on it and wait for the final adjudication on the matter, and not take any action that will pre-empt the court decision and render the judicial verdict useless.
“But the Governor went ahead to exhibit his dictatorial tendencies by illegally directing the demolition of the building. This is evil, an act of tyranny and impunity taken too far. Why the haste in destroying the property when the matter is yet to be decided by the court? The hurry and surreptitious manner the demolition exercise was carried out shows that the Governor’s action was not in the interest of the people but to satisfy his selfish ego, which is a gross violation of the Oath of Office he swore to. Contrary to the Oath of Office he took, Governor Abdulrazaq has allowed his personal interest to influence his official conduct and decision.”
The statement noted that: “It is now more glaring to Kwarans and the general public that the Governor is in office to settle old political and family scores and not to deliver good governance and development that he was elected for. He is vindictive and will stop at nothing to take draconian actions to get at his perceived political opponents. The demolition of Ile-Arugbo is a dishonour to the memory of Baba Saraki. This is a man who dedicated his political career to serving the good people of Kwara. He was a selfless and very accommodating leader, who was always ready to help others”.
The statement stressed that, “Only few politicians of his time could rival his uncommon compassion towards the masses, which endeared him to many within and outside the State. However, the Governor and his family members including his father, AGF Abdulrazaq should know that with or without Ile-Arugbo, the late Olusola Saraki will continue to occupy a place of honor in the hearts of Kwarans, particularly those who witnessed or benefited from his numerous acts of philanthropy and humanity”.
The statement pointed out that, “As we did in our last statement, we once again call on traditional institutions, spiritual and community leaders and stakeholders in the State to caution the Governor to put a stop to his acts of tyranny and politics of bitterness, which can lead to breakdown of law and order in the state”.
The party therefore said that, “we urge the supporters and sympathizers of the Saraki family to remain calm and not take law into their own hands though we understand how emotional and embittered they are at the moment. We must allow law to take its course.”