Layi Olanrewaju, Ilorin
Several plots of land allocated in the 1980s for the construction of courtrooms in Ilorin were arbitrarily sold out by the administrations of former Governors Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed without following the due process, the judicial panel on assets recovery heard on Thursday.
Director-General of the Bureau of Land Barrister Bolaji Edun told the panel that the lands in Tanke area of Ilorin had been allocated to the judiciary as part of the planning for the state but were gradually auctioned out from 2009 without the government first revoking the allocation of same in line with the law.
Edun was answering questions regarding a petition filed to the panel by the state judiciary which seeks restoration of the land amid a shortage of courtrooms in the state capital. The judiciary also complained of unlawful encroachment on the leftover of the land by at least two occupants: Candidate Hotel and the Nigeria Society of Engineering Secretariat.
Edun said the earliest state allocations on the land were made in 2009 and the issuance of C of O started in 2013 while the Bureau of Lands could not find the C of O of Candidate Hotel in its record.
‘The extension and encroachment seen at the Hotel were not part of the C of O granted. In fact, there is no record of its title in our files,’ he said.
Edun clarified that the entire land from Rhema Chapel around Tanke Tipper Garage to Prince Gambari building in Tanke Iledu was allocated to the state judiciary in 1980.
Also testifying, the Acting Surveyor-General of Kwara State Ibrahim Muhammad admitted that the entire land belongs to the judiciary, saying he could not find any file in respect of revocation of the land from the judiciary.
On Wednesday, members of the Kwara State Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the sales of Government assets inspected the land where Candidate Hotel and Nigeria Society of Engineering Secretariat are built in Tanke.
Chairman of the panel Justice Olabanji Orilonishe had earlier adjourned the ongoing public hearing for the inspection following inconsistencies in the testimony of the chairman of Candidate Hotel Raphael Adunmo before the panel.
During the visit, the panel found out massive encroachment on the land, with existing judiciary structures for high courts converted to poultry and the hotel’s makeshift bar.
The panel observed that the Candidate Hotel and Nigeria Society of Engineering Secretariat are built on the frontage of the proposed Kwara State High Court in Tanke.
Adunmo, a retired Chief Town Planning Officer in the state, had earlier denied building permanent structures beyond his approved land but later admitted encroachment when the hearing resumed after the visit.
‘There was a publication in respect of the layout of the land and I applied. I was given allocation and I have papers for my allocation and C of O. I encroached on the land because it became a problem for my hotel. It used to be a criminal hideout,’ he admitted.
Adunmo said he took over the structure when it became a hideout for criminals after several reports to F Division Police Station and the then Commissioner for Lands and Housing, Dr Bayo Ishola, and others officials of the ministry without allocation.