Anger and condemnation have trailed the demolition of the structures on Plots 1, 3 and 5, otherwise known as Ile Arugbo (Old People’s Home) owned by the late Abubakar Olusola Saraki on the order of Kwara State Governor, Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq.
The demolition was reportedly supervised by one of his aides in the early hours of the morning after heavy firing of gunshots and tear gas canisters to scare away women and youths who had been keeping vigil on the land since New Year eve.
The house, popularly called Ile Arugo is located along the Ilofa Road in the Government Reserved Area, Ilorin.
Commissioner of Communications, Murtala Olanrewaju, in a statement, yesterday, defended the demolition and reclamation, saying the government acted within the limits of the law. He also urged the public to remain calm and law-abiding.
“Contrary to the claim that the state government was served court papers on the matter, we state that no court paper had been served as at the time the government took steps to preserve what lawfully belongs to the people. We urge people of the state to remain calm, peaceful, and be guided only by facts of the matter and not drawn into emotional outburst 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.”
Olanrewaju said security officials thwarted “attempts by some persons to provoke government’s agents on lawful duty” during the demolition.
A resident, who preferred anonymity, said he woke up to meet bulldozers carrying out the demolition.
The land on which the house was built became a subject of controversy in the last few days. The building was used by the late Saraki to distribute foods, money and clothes to old women.
Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq on December 27 announced the revocation of the tittle to land over alleged illegal acquisition by Saraki.
The governor, in a statement by his spokesman, Rafiu Ajakaiye, said the property was not the ancestral home of the Saraki’s as portrayed to the public.
“Saraki’s ancestral home is in Agbaji, Ilorin. The property at issue,used for political meetings, is in the heart of the GRA, Ilorin. The government’s position is that the land was (and still is) a public property originally meant for the construction of government secretariat, a civil service clinic, and a parking lot for the two. However, ownership of the property was spuriously transferred to a private firm, and for commercial purpose, without the firm paying a kobo to the government or obtaining the Certificate of Occupancy. What the government has done is to reclaim the land in the spirit of what it was originally meant for,” Abdulrazaq said.
Scion of the late Kwara political leader, Bukola Saraki, a former senate president and governor of the state, has accused the Governor Abdulrazaq of waging a war against him and his father.
According to Bukola, the property was rightfully allocated to his late father in the name of one of his companies, Asa Investment Limited, since the 1980s. He also said that contrary to the claim of the governor, the land was properly allocated with a right of occupancy title issued on it.