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Gbemisola Saraki, finally speaks about the demolition of her fathers property

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The Minister of State for Transportation, Mrs Gbemisola Saraki, has condemned the demolition of the building belonging to her late father, Olusola Saraki, by the Kwara State Government.

Gbemisola, who belongs to the same party, the All Progressives Congress, with the state Governor, AbdulRazaq AbdulRahman, accused him of using security agencies to settle family political disagreements.

She said she was especially saddened by the state government’s unleashing of terror and mayhem on innocent and defenceless aged women, who were protesting against Ile Arugbo’s demolition.

“I call upon the Inspector-General of Police to caution the state Commissioner of Police. Using security agencies and live ammunition to settle political and personal scores is not what the Buhari administration is about. We must stand up against vindictive politics, driven by envy, motivated by jealousy and practised without integrity,” she said in a statement on Friday.

Popularly called Ile Arugbo (home for the aged), the house is located along the Ilofa Road in the Government Reserved Area of Ilorin.

The building was a place where the late Saraki used to distribute food, money and clothes to old women, a tradition that the immediate past Senate President and Gbemisola’s brother, Bukola Saraki, inherited.

However, the building, which became a subject of controversy in the last few days, was demolished around 4am on Thursday by security agents of the state government.

It was gathered that the men of the Nigeria Police Force first took over the property 48 hours before the demolition to forestall the breakdown of law after some aged women protested against the state government’s decision.

AbdulRazaq had on December 27, 2019 announced the revocation of the title to Ile Arugbo over alleged illegal possession.

His Chief Press Secretary, Mr Rafiu Ajakaye, said in a statement that the title was revoked to build a new government secretariat that it was originally meant for.

Despite the aged women’s protest, the state government demolished the property with bulldozers, with security agents reportedly tear-gassing the protesters.

But contrary to the perception in some quarters that Gbemisola was in support of AbdulRazaq’s action because they belonged to the same party, the minister on Friday condemned the governor’s action.

She said, “Again, as a loyal and dedicated daughter of my father, Dr Abubakar Olusola Saraki, whom I hold in very high esteem, I did not want to express my opinion on the propriety of the governor’s recent political actions as it would be seen as biased because the late Waziri is my father. However, given the turn of events and the violent nature of the governor’s position, it is only right for me to speak now.

“There might have been some elements within my party, the APC, who wanted to change the ‘Otoge’ (It is enough!) narrative of the 2019 elections to be about the Sarakis, and not about what it was – the removal of a failing PDP administration.

“But clearly, by some recent steps taken, especially with Thursday’s actions, the Kwara State APC must be careful to not allow a few elements with their own agenda, other than governance, to turn their personal vendetta into the official position of the APC in the state. They must not be allowed to hijack the narrative of what our party stands for.”

Gbemi said although Ile Arugbo was demolished, her father’s legacy lived on, saying her family, whether individually and/or collectively, had never derived any commercial benefit from the piece of land.

“At the end of the day, what is on that land is nothing – no block of flats that the family is getting rent from; no office building, no factory, or any other commercial venture. Just a bungalow where the old women gather and get their basic needs attended to.

“Nonetheless, were my father alive today, surely, he would have been saddened to see bulldozers in Ile Arugbo. However, I am comforted by the knowledge that my father’s good work and his respect, support and love for the aged, which was sadly lacking in the governor’s activities on Thursday, simply cannot be erased by demolishing a bungalow,” she said.

Expressing sadness that aged women protesters were attacked by security agents, Gbemisola stated, “The level of force and violence that the governor chose to adopt was totally unwarranted. What resistance to protest justifies firing live ammunition and tear-gassing old women? Even my own personal home was not left out of the attack as numerous empty bullet shell casings and dispersed tear gas canisters were found inside my home.

“Furthermore, given how well and how long I have personally known the governor beyond Kwara State, so much so that I have always regarded him as one of my older brothers. Even in the political arena, over the years, we have known each other as political opponents and allies and I have always accorded him the respect which he has not accorded me.”

Gbemisola said as one of the APC leaders in the state, she had consulted broadly and also sent messages appealing to party members not to be provoked by the unwarranted assault on her late father.

Meanwhile, Gbemisola’ brother and a former president of the Senate, Bukola Saraki, has dragged the Kwara State Government to court over the demolition of the Ile Arugbo.

Saraki, through his Media Adviser, Yusuph Olaniyonu, confirmed to Saturday PUNCH on Friday that the suit was filed on Tuesday.

He said, “We are already in court (over the issue). The suit, No KWS/463/2019, was filed on Tuesday, December 31, 2019.”

But the Kwara State Government has said it has not been served with court summons.

The Chief Press Secretary to the governor, Rafiu Ajakaye, said while responding to Saturday PUNCH correspondent enquiry on Friday, “The Kwara State Government has not been served any court process regarding the land. If anybody claims otherwise, the question to them should then be: when was the process served and which judge has been assigned to hear the matter? As of this moment, January 3, 2020, no court process has been served on the government.”

Saraki, through his Media Adviser, Yusuph Olaniyonu, confirmed to Saturday PUNCH on Friday that the suit was filed on Tuesday.

He said, “We are already in court (over the issue). The suit, No KWS/463/2019, was filed on Tuesday, December 31, 2019.”

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