The Kwara State High Court sitting in Ilorin, has struck out the suit challenging the demolition and acquisition of the disputed land of the late Dr Olusola Saraki (Ile Arugbo) by the Kwara State Government, for want of diligent prosecution.
The case was brought by claimants to the land, Asa Investment Limited against the state government.
The state government had on January 2020 taken over the said property, alleging illegal acquisition by the claimants.
Counsel to the claimants, Abdulazeez Ibrahim had earlier filed an application brought pursuant to Order 11 Rule 17 of the Kwara State High Court (2005) seeking to substitute the late second claimant, Alhaji Baba Eleku with one Abubakar Oluwatoyin.
Ibrahim also sought for adjournment of the case to another day to enable him to file the statement of the oath of Abubakar Oluwatoyin, adding that “he is an important party and witness in this case.”
In his short ruling on Tuesday, presiding Justice Abiodun Adewara refused the claimant’s application for adjournment, asking them to call their first witness.
Responding, the Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Salman Jawondo said: “At this stage, since they cannot continue with the case, we urge the court to invoke order 39, rule 4 to strike out the case.”
Delivering his judgement, Justice Adewara said Order 39, rule 4 was no applicable in the matter, adding that “Order 39, rule 20 readily comes to mind. claimants are not prosecuting the case diligently. the suit is therefore struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.”
He then adjourned the case to March 17 for the defendants’ proof of counterclaim.
Fielding questions from journalists after the court session, Abdulazeez Ibrahim said: “No cause for alarm, we will brief our lead counsel who will, in turn, brief his clients.”
However, Channels Television gathered that several meeting held at the office of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, ended in a brick wall as both parties failed to reach amicable terms of a settlement.
In the terms of the settlement, the Kwara government wants the land to be left for the public interest; but the claimant proposed that the government should vacate the revocation order on three plots on Illofa road, GRA, which Ile Arugbo sits on.
The claimants added that the government should rebuild all the demolished structures on the land, and issue a public apology to the aged who were traumatised by the demolition.
On Mondays sitting, Justice Adewara commended both parties for trying to find an amicable resolution to the crisis as advised by the court, and fixed March 25 for the hearing of the case.
The Kwara State Government says it will soon revoke more properties that are found to be illegally acquired.
The chairman of the committee on the review of the sales of government properties, Senator Suleiman Ajadi, said this on Sunday while addressing journalists on the demolition of the Saraki Property by the state government.
Ajadi noted that the committee which was established to look into the sales of government properties from 1999 to date has recommended some properties to be taken over by the government.
According to him and contrary to the belief in some quarters, the Saraki property known as Ile Arugbo did not have any documents.
He added that the committee which submitted its report four months ago discovered that no application nor payment was made in respect of the land in question.
Before the demolition, the Saraki family house was used as a venue for political meetings when the family held sway over the Kwara Government.
Policemen, numbering about 50 were said to have gone to enforce the action at about 3:00 am on January 2 but were initially resisted by some the old women.
They later returned at about 4:00 am when the structure was eventually pulled down.
Several reactions have continued to trail the action, including that of the Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, who is a member of the APC, and a member of the Saraki family.
According to her, although she had chosen to remain silent over the previous happenings in the state as part of her loyalty to the party, she felt it was necessary to speak up now in order for her silence not to be misconstrued as approval.
She condemned the manner in which the issue was approached and therefore called on members of the party “to stand up against vindictive politics, driven by envy, motivated by jealousy and practiced without integrity.”
Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, has condemned the demolition of the Ile-Arugbo building in Ilorin by the Kwara State Government.
The building is owned by the Saraki family but the APC-led state government, in December, said it had been illegally acquired.
Former Senate President, Bukola Saraki had refuted the government’s claim.
“The property, since the Second Republic, has always 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 (Olusola Saraki),” Saraki, a member of the PDP, said in late December. “The tradition has since been maintained.”
But that didn’t stop the demolition which took place on Thursday, a day after the new year.
In a statement released on Friday, Gbemisola Saraki, a member of the APC, the ruling party in Kwara, and member of the Saraki family, condemned the action.
“At 3:00 am Thursday 2nd of January 2020, the Governor of Kwara State, Abdulrahman AbdulRazaq, gave orders to the Police to open fire on aged women, at the contested welfare home, popularly known as “lle Arugbo” (Home for Aged), owned by my father, Dr. Abubakar Olusola Saraki,” she said in her statement.
“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 is my father.
“However, given the turn of events and the violent nature of the Governor’s position, it is only right for me to speak now.
“There might have been some elements within my party, APC, who wanted to change the OTOGe narrative of the 2019 elections to be about the Sarakis, and not about what it was – the removal of a failing PDP Administration.
“But clearly by some recent steps taken, especially with Thursday’s actions, Kwara State APC must be careful to not allow a few elements with their own agenda, other than governance, to turn their personal vendetta into the official position of APC in the State. They must not be allowed to hijack the narrative of what our party stands for.
“The APC has, since its inception, preached and worked earnestly for genuine good governance, security, increased welfare, progress and development of the people, as exemplified by President Muhammadu Buhari, who in the face of direct provocation and deep personal attacks remains true to the oath he took to govern ALL Nigerians, in spite of allegiances.
“That is why it is important that my silence is not misconstrued as tacit approval or support for the actions taken by the Governor.
“As stated earlier, I chose to refrain from commenting on the onset of this land saga and did so for three reasons: (1) I believed that this was a matter that would go through the rightful forum and due process to ascertain and establish my father’s legal rights or otherwise. (2) My family individually and/or collectively have NEVER derived and continue not to derive ANY commercial benefit from that piece of land. At the end of the day, what is on that land is nothing – no block of flats that the family is getting rent from; no office building, no factory, or any other commercial venture. Just a bungalow where the old women gather and get their basic needs attended to. (3) Nonetheless, were my father alive today, surely, he would have been saddened to see bulldozers in Ile Arugbo.
“However, I am comforted by the knowledge that my father’s good work and his respect, support and love for the aged, which was sadly lacking in the Governor’s activities of Thursday, simply cannot be erased by demolishing a bungalow. When it comes down to it, lle Arugbo is a piece of bare land that holds symbolic value of what my father stood for-humanitarianism, and that doesn’t start nor end with a building.
“But after the events of Thursday when the aged women were tear gassed and shot at in the wee hours of the morning (3:00AM), 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.
“I feel that at this point not only as a child of the late Waziri but as a member of the APC, I need to speak. I do so not only as a daughter but as a member of the party, to ensure that those thousands of members of APC who are Sarakites that supported the OToGe Movement are not alienated. In addition, I do so to ensure that the resounding victory that APC enjoyed in Kwara is not short-lived or diminished.
“Governments acquire properties, even compulsorily without necessarily resorting to unprovoked violent attacks in the dead of night. It is especially disrespectful to me personally, as a member of the APC since 2015, who welcomed and supported those who only joined us a couple of months to the elections, which includes the Governor himself, that my position as a member of the party was not given any consideration and/or regard when approaching this issue.
“Furthermore, given how well and how long I have personally known the Governor beyond Kwara State, so much so that I have always regarded him as one of my older brothers. Even in the political arena, over the years, we have known each other as political opponents and allies and I have always accorded him respect which he has not accorded me.
“As one of the APC leaders in the State, I have consulted broadly and have also sent messages appealing to party members not to be provoked by this unwarranted assault on my late father. I do this with all sense of responsibility so that party cohesion and unity is not undermined by arbitrariness to rush into an attempt to settle perceived old generational family political scores. Revenge cannot be a policy thrust of governance.
“I am also using this opportunity to appeal to our teeming supporters to remain calm and poised and maintain peace in the face of unwarranted provocation. “Allah Bring about ease after difficulty” Q65 vrs 7.
“I condemn in totality the actions taken on Thursday 2nd January 2020 by Governor Abdul Rahman 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.
“We must stand up against vindictive politics, driven by envy, motivated by jealousy and practiced without integrity.”
Former Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, has commended supporters of his family for showing support and displayed affection during the demolition of his family home popularly called ‘Ile Arugbo’ by the Kwara State government.
The building was demolished in the early hours of Thursday morning after police dispersed protesters, including old women.
Dr Saraki, while reacting said the actions of the protesters showed that they were not intimidated by the presence of security and government officials who perfected the orders of the state government.
“Following development this morning in Ile Arugbo, I want to commend the women, 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.”
The former senate president said that the actions by the protesters have shown a gesture of goodwill and passionate love, hoping that justice shall prevail soon.
“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.
“This day will go down as the day you reciprocated the love and affection my father and family have for you. You have displayed a gesture of goodwill and passionate love. We assure you that justice shall prevail in a not too distant future. May God bless us all.”
According to the state government, the demolition is the physical reclamation of the plot of land which is originally designated for the construction of the civil service clinic in Ilorin.
“The reclamation exercise began in the early hours of Thursday to avoid any needless confrontation. Attempts by some persons to provoke government’s agents on lawful duty were resisted by the security agents who exercised the highest level of restraint and professionalism.
“Contrary to the claim that the State Government was served court papers on the matter, we state that no court paper has been served as at the time the government took steps to preserve what lawfully belongs to the people.
“Finally, we urge the people of the state to remain calm, peaceful, an be guided only by facts of the matter and not be drawn into an emotional outburst that is targeted at distracting the public from the issues at stake. While the administration is focused on restoring sanity to the state after years of barefaced impunity, we will do so within the limit of the law,” the statement read in part.
The Saraki family house before the demolition was used as a venue for political meetings when the Saraki family held sway over Kwara Government.
Policemen, numbering about 50 were said to have gone to enforce the action at about 3:00 am but were initially resisted by some the old women.
The security agents later returned at 4:00 am when the structure was evetually pulled down.