Friday, January 3, 2020

Tension in Ilorin over demolition of Saraki’s house

There was palpable tension in Ilorin, Kwara State Capital, yesterday over the demolition of the house of Late Abubakar Olusola Saraki.

Officials of the state government had in the wee hours of yesterday demolished the house, popularly known as Ile Arugbo (old people’s home), located along the Ilofa Road, GRA, Ilorin.

There had been series of protests by aged women and other Saraki’s supporters who usually met on Thursdays and Fridays for prayers at the house.

Supporters and loyalists of  Bukola Saraki, who is also the immediate past Senate president and son of the late Kwara politician, were yesterday milling round the demolished building, chanting solidarity songs and praising him.

The state government had said the land on which the house was built was illegally acquired, but the former Senate president had countered the claim, saying his father legally acquired the land.

The State Commissioner for Communications, Murtala Olanrewaju, in a statement yesterday, explained that the demolition exercise, which was a physical reclamation of the plot of land bordering the civil service clinic in Ilorin, began in the early hours to avoid any needless confrontation.

The commissioner denied that the state government was served court papers on the matter.

He urged the people of the state to remain calm, peaceful and be guided only by facts of the matter and “not be drawn into emotional outburst that is targeted at distracting the public from the issues at stake.

“While the administration is focused on restoring sanity to the state after years of barefaced impunity, we will do so within the limit of the law.”

It was gathered that some residents of Ilorin had earlier planned to stage a protest against the exercise. The chairman of the People’s Democratic Party, in the state, Engr Kola Shittu and members of  the party’s  executive  were at the demolished building.

Shittu condemned the state government’s action, saying the government should have tarried a while since the matter had become a subject of litigation.

He described the demolition  as “a dishonour to the memory of Baba Saraki.

This is a man who dedicated his political career to serving the good people of Kwara.”

He, however, appealed to Saraki’s supporters to remain calm and refrain from any act of reprisals or violence, assuring them that the law would take its course. Some women announced their resolve to march to the palace of the Emir of Ilorin in protest against the demolition exercise.

The daughter of the late Kwara politician and Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, in her veiled condemnation of the demolistion of her father’s house, said she was proud of the history of her family.

In a statement by her Special Assistant on Media, Titilope Anifowose, she said had renamed her movement to “GRS-OLOYE” in perceived solidarity with her family on the issue.

“So, many things have happened this year, in fact, right up to the very dying hours of the year, but we will continue to take brave and faithful steps.

“We will continue to walk even though we have no idea what will happen next, though we are comforted, encouraged and reassured with this. But they plan and Allah plans and Allah is the best of planners.

So, GRS Family, we are going to be known now as GRS-OLOYE Movement. “We have history, and we are proud of that history. May Allah forgive the sins of all our departed and may He make us worthy representatives of all that they stood for.”