Tunde Oyekola, Ilorin
LESS than 12 hours after the court ruling which struck out Saraki’s suit instituted against Kwara State Government on Ile Arugbo, the state government in the early hours of Wednesday demolished the remaining structure on the disputed land at the Civil Service Clinic, GRA, Ilorin.
Recall that Justice Abiodun Adewara on Tuesday struck out the suit instituted by Asa Investments Limited on the controversial land allegedly owned by Dr Olusola Saraki, a second Republic Senate Leader and Kwara political kingpin.
Residents of the area said that a bulldozer came to work on the site in the early hours of Wednesday to demolish the remaining structures (Ile Arugbo) on the land.
A resident of the area, who identified himself as Jamiu, told our correspondent that “the bulldozer was brought to the land at about 3am today (Wednesday) and demolished the remaining buildings at Ile Arugbo. We watched it for about an hour and we saw some security men doing some surveillance till when the demolition lasted.”
Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, said there was no law that stopped the government from taking the possession of the land.
“The government has only reaffirmed its ownership of the land following the court ruling of yesterday (Tuesday). The government had since last year January taken possession of the land which belongs to the people of the state.
“The government only stayed action on it out of respect for the judicial proceedings instituted on the land, especially the temporary injunction of the court. Note however that the temporary injunction restraining the government from doing anything on the land had since last year, August 7, 2020, been lifted by the court.
“But out of absolute respect for the ongoing court case, the government chose to stay action. With yesterday’s court ruling striking out the case for want of diligent prosecution, the government has today restarted the clearing of the land,” Ajakaye said.
However, the head of the legal team of Asa Investments Limited, Dr Akin Onigbinde, SAN, in a reaction, described the decision of the Kwara State Government to carry out a fresh demolition on the property whose matter is still in court as reckless, illegal and glaring impunity.
In a statement made available to newsmen in Ilorin, Onigbinde noted that he was surprised that less than 24 hours after the court fixed March 17, 2021 for hearing of the counter-claims filed by the Kwara State Government, the government ordered bulldozers to go on to the property about 2.25am and 4.20am on February 3, 2021, to further demolish structure and materials on it.
Onigbinde added, “Counsel to Government of Kwara State, on record of court at previous sittings of court had given undertaken not to destroy the property until the dispute is determined.
“It was also surprising that on a single day, the court granted an application to Asa to substitute the name of Alhaji Sanusi Baba-Eleku, a co-claimant with Asa Investment Ltd, who died recently with another, being Alhaji Abubakar Oluwatoyin, and before allowing the new party to file his witness statement on oath as required by law, the court struck out the case of Asa Investment Ltd without allowing the new party the opportunity to even put forward his case to court for adjudication, and Kwara State Government overreached judicial process to further destroy the property during the pendency of hearing.”
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