Abubakar Bukola Saraki, former Senate President.

…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.