Stadium eviction: Kwara government, Saraki club trade words

Management of Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) Ilorin FC has said that the football club was not evicted from the Kwara State Stadium complex over non-payment of rent.

It is recalled that the state sports council, through a letter dated June 10, 2021, asked the ABS football club to leave the complex, stating that the council wanted to make use of the facilities occupied by the club to accommodate the sports commission chairman.

In a statement by the Administrative Secretary of the club, Mrs Fumilayo Owolabi, in Ilorin on Tuesday, she also said that the club was not evicted because of its refusal to pay rent for office facility, saying that, “we had no prior discussions or any requests by the Kwara state internal revenue service (KWIRS) to pay for the facility.

“The ABS FC Secretariat was formerly a non-permanent structure site office/store temporarily put in place by the Engineering firm that upgraded the Kwara State Stadium Complex, Ilorin.

“Upon completion of the stadium upgrade and evacuation of materials from the office by the firm, the management of ABS FC applied to the Kwara State Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, through the Sports Council for the use of the facility as office accommodation cum store and the request was graciously granted.

“We wish to correct the impression that we were evicted because of our refusal to pay rent for our office facility as we had no prior discussions or any requests by KWIRS to pay for the facility.

“Our dealings with the KWIRS had been in the areas of tax payments, payment for the use of the stadium fields for our matches, in which we have continued to maintain our obligations.

“Only recently, the management of the Kwara State Sports Council, through the Stadium Manager, Mr Wale Obalola, at an informal meeting hinted us on directives to recover the facility from ABS FC, and also discussed agreements on payment for the office.

“Some days after the meeting, the State Sports Council wrote to the club asking us to sign an agreement for a yearly rent payment of N180,000.00, to be paid in two instalments, subject to further negotiations

“We sent a reply to the Sports Council, requesting to pay the sum of N150,000.00 in three instalments, payable quarterly, and demanded the Bank Account to make payment to, for the first instalment.

“A few weeks after, it became clear to us that there were other unseen forces, teleguided unsportsmanly utterances/reactions and political undertones bent on seeing ABS Ilorin FC out of the office, including stringent conditions that the letter of payment agreement dated 24th May 2021 was to take effect backwards from January 2021.

“We sorted for calm and reminded them that issues of sports and youths development of which the club stood for should not be joined with conventional politics of any kind.

“Almost immediately, we received a notice titled “Request To Vacate Facility” signed by the Council’s Secretary, A.J Adebisi which read …

“The management of Kwara State Sports Council wishes to inform you/your club that the Bill for the establishment of Kwara State Sports Commission has been passed into law and presently awaiting assent by the Executive Governor, Malam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.

“The Council has been requested to make available comfortable office accommodation for the incoming Board Chairman and members to start work as soon as possible.

“In view of the foregoing, the Council wish to appeal to you/your club that the Council will need to make use of the facility in your club’s possession to accommodate the incoming Commission Chairman and members” the notice read in part’.

“From the above scenario, it is evidently clear that muddling negotiations for payment and notice to vacate the facility for use by the sports commission depicts a clear case of contraction which confirmed our fears of unseen forces and sportsmanship political undertones.

“Meanwhile, we had requested the Council to give us some time to look for alternative office accommodation and to allow the club to complete the ongoing Nigeria National League (NNL) season which has only 4 matches to go.”

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