Kwara govt, Saraki counsels bicker over demolition of Ile Arugbo

•Demolition of Ile Arugbo after court ruling reckless, illegal -Saraki counsel

Kwara State government has reportedly demolished the remaining structure on Ile Arugbo, the controversial piece of land at the Civil Service Clinic GRA, Ilorin, a day after the state High Court struck out suit challenging ownership of the disputed property

It is recalled that Justice Abiodun Adewara of the state High Court on Tuesday struck out the suit instituted by Asa Investments Limited on the controversial land allegedly owned by Dr Olusola Saraki.

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 said that “the bulldozer was brought to the land at about 3 am 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.”

Speaking on the development, the chief press secretary to the governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, said that there was no law that stopped the goverment from taking the possession of the land.

“The government has only reaffirmed its ownership of the land following the court ruling of yesterday. 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 active, still. 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, 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 counterclaims filed by the Kwara State government, the government ordered bull-dozers to go on to the property about 2.25 am and 4.20 am 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.”

He stated that it was wrong for a party to a suit to take action which seeks to tie the hands of the court or overreach any decision of Court or render a nugatory subsequent decision of the court.

He also noted that the state government by its action has violated the undertakings it made in open court in previous sittings not to interfere with the property.

“This action taken in the dead of the night will be challenged appropriately. We will not allow a government which should symbolise democracy and rule of law should not be the one acting with impunity or seeking to subvert the course of justice,” he stated.

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