…Plot to dismantle the political dynasty ahead 2023 thickens
By OLUSESAN LAOYE
It appears that the political fortunes of the Sarakis in Ilorin Kwara State now face an uncertain future as the government both at the federal and state levels are ostensibly bent on dismantling the nonce political dynasty the held the state in the jugular.
With the woeful loss of the state the family had controlled under every democratic dispensation since its creation in 1976 to the unjustifiable demolition of their father’s property “Ile Arugbo” situated at the government reservation area GRA in Ilorin, which prompted Mrs. Gbemi Saraki-Fowora, a minister of state for transport, in this government to lash out at the government, and now government determined plot to confiscate through forfeiture of Dr. Bukola Sarakis assets.
The bungalow which was owned by Dr. Olusola Saraki, who was the Senate leader in the second republic had been a subject of controversy since January when the present All Progressives Congress (APC) government of Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq wanted to possess it, claiming that it was not properly acquired.
The government had sent bulldozers to the site to level the building to the ground when the beneficiaries of late Dr. Olusola Saraki stood in their way and prevented the demolition. Since then, there had been series of war of words between the Sarakis, the incumbent governor and his loyalists and members of the public.
The matter is now subject of litigation which may continue until it would be finally decided. What is worrisome and which looks like the Sarakis are in serious dilemma was the break-down in the out of court settlement, endorsed by Justice Abiodun Adebara of the Kwara State High Court, handling the case.
When the case came up in January Justice Adebara advised that the two parties should resolve through out of court settlement but unfortunately the two meetings held by the government’s representatives and the Saraki family hit a brick wall and the government ever since has remained adamant and ready to pursue the case to a logical conclusion.
A source hinted that government has refused the three point settlement proposal by the Sarakis because it was sure that the case would be won by it based on the facts at its disposal.
Government it was argued, is determined to demolish the house because the special committee set to recover all government illegally acquired property during its findings rediscovered that the late strong man of Kwara politics who was a king maker for decades did not have proper documents to back up the procurement of the land where Ile Arugbo is situated.
It was also discovered that the controversial land was meant for government secretariat and was unlawfully allocated to Asa investment Ltd
Sources further hinted that the documents presented in court by Asa Nigeria Ltd were just mere letter of allocation without a right of occupancy title. The allocation papers too, contained conditions which the Asa Ltd never met till the expiration of the 90 days moratorium given to it as far back as 2005.
Since the two parties have failed to settle out of court they are now back to pursue the case. As at the last hearing, they both informed Justice Abiodun Adebara that they have disagreed on terms set out in the settlement proposal.
While briefing the Judge why they disagreed, counsel to government who is also the commissioner of Justice and the Attorney General of the State Salmon Jawando argued that the settlement talks broke down and has been foreclosed because the Sarakis’ terms were impossible to meet and not negotiable.
He pointed out that as a result, we concluded that there was no point talking. “We also told the Sarakis that the negotiation we were to enter into with them was not in on individual interest, but in the interests of the generality of the people of Kwara State and their government…”
In his own submission before the Court, counsel to the Sarakis, Andulazees Ibrahim, said the settlement was deadlocked and they have decided to go on with the case. He said that all the three terms proposed to government were turned down.
The Sarakis gave these conditions to settle out of court.(1) that government should withdraw legal revocation which is the right of occupancy; (2) that government should rebuild the partially demolished structures, and (3) government should render public apology to the aged women who were harassed and traumatized.
Justice Adebara after the presentations of the counsels to both parties commended them for making efforts which eventually did not work. He averred that there was no point delaying the case for Justice and to save time; he therefore fixed March 25 for the hearing of the demolition case, while the ex parte for stay of execution earlier granted still stays pending the final determination of the substantive suit.
While this was going on another front of attack on the family blew open spearheaded by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, which moved for the final forfeiture of the assets of Bukola Saraki in Ilorin and Ikoyi Lagos. EFCC had last year obtained a interim forfeiture order against the assets, which they alleged are proceeds of crime and money laundering against the state.
It was learnt that the both the central and state government share a common interest in the war against the Saraki is apparently intended toward the 2023 polls by ensure that the former senate president is financial neutralized and if possibly legally constrained given its formidable potential for trouble. While the state government would never wish for a return to the old ways of politics in the state, the federal would forget in a hurry how Saraki frustrated the administration in its first term.
It has also polarized the APC in the state as those loyal to Gbemi Saraki who teamed up with the governor to defeat the candidate of his brother, the former Senate President who had governed the state for eight years are not happy with the governor.
Also when the controversy began President Muhammadu Buhari was called to intervene as Gbemi did not take kindly to the governor’s actions on her father’s property and accused him of trying to destroy the legacy which her father left behind for posterity. She fumed of not being informed by the governor whom she worked for his victory as member of the same political party.
Also Dr. Bukola Saraki accused the governor of vendetta, saying that the position the governor now occupies was by God and should not be abused because he can take it away also.
According to the former Senate President, the governor’s action was the height of vengeance against him and his father. He said that the governor “believes that his victory and power to govern is empowerment, enablement and the right to settle old scores and to tackle my father’s legacy in Kwara State”
While reacting on behalf o governor the Chief Press Secretary Rafiu Ajakaiye said the governor was acting in the interests of the people because the land under question was allocated illegally to the late second Republic Senate leader Dr. Olusola Abubakar Saraki without any proper record.
The Kwara state commissioner for communication Mr. Murtala Olanrewaju in his reaction argued that the so called Ile Arugbo home for the aged has over the years been a mere political shed that has never been occupied since it was built.
As a result “the claims that people were ejected, maltreated or violated was deployed against the people did not arise.” He argued that the illegally obtained property was one out of the over 100 government property in Lagos, Abuja and Kwara State.