Chuks Okocha in Abuja
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) yesterday condemned the demolition of a property belonging to the father of a former Senate president, Dr. Bukola Saraki, by the All Progressives Congress (APC)-led Kwara State Government.
Associates of the late Senate Leader, Dr. Olusola Saraki, alleged that gunshots and tear gas were fired at women and youths when agents of the Kwara State Governor, Alhaji Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq, led by one of his aides carried out the overnight demolition of structures on Plots 1, 3 and 5, otherwise known as Ile Arugbo (Old People’s Home).
The PDP described the invasion and demolition as wicked, cowardly and a direct recipe for crisis in the state.
A statement by the National Publicity Secretary of PDP, Kola Ologbondiyan, said it was clear that the action of the state government was borne out of hatred and political intolerance in furtherance of the larger plot by the APC and its administration to intimidate, suppress, hound, crush and silence the opposition and dissenting voices in the country, in the bid to foist a siege mentality on the citizenry.
PDP dismissed the reasons given by the state government as dastardly, baseless, false and incongruous, stressing that the reasons failed to add up to justify the invasion, harassment of citizens and demolition of the said property.
The main opposition party said the demolition was a subversion of the rule of law as the matter is already in court.
It added that the state government could not wait for the outcome of the court process apparently because it knew that it was pursuing an illegal agenda.
“Nigerians know how the APC and its government have been hounding, harassing and dragging Senator Saraki around over trumped-up charges, for daring to be among compatriots at the forefront of the quest to rescue our nation from misrule and strangleholds of the APC and its cabal.
“The APC and Kwara State Government should perish their idea of trying to use false claims and propaganda to justify their wicked act and take over the property, as such cannot hoodwink Nigerians from the truth,” the party stated.
PDP added that the timing of the invasion and demolition, in the wee hours and under the cover of darkness, was a direct indication that the state government was carrying out an unwholesome and condemnable operation.
The PDP said demolition of property belonging to opposition leaders and other Nigerians perceived to be opposed to APC’s administration had become a policy of the APC and its government in their bid to subjugate Nigerians and exclusively appropriate the common patrimony for their selfish purposes.
It, however, cautioned the APC, its administration and in this particular case, the Kwara State Government, against overheating the polity with its policy of targeting the opposition.
The main opposition party said it was also instructive that in the years the PDP governed Kwara State, there was no case of government demolishing the property of opposition members or supporters under any guise whatsoever.
“Our party therefore stands with Senator Saraki and cautions the Kwara State Government to henceforth steer clear of the property,” PDP said.
Meanwhile, the associates of the late Saraki have alleged that gunshots and tear gas were fired at women and youths when the agents of the Kwara State governor, led by one of his aides carried out the overnight demolition of the structures.
The late Saraki’s associates alleged that the overnight demolition squad eventually set to work after four failed attempts, which were resisted by aged women and youths who had always gathered at the Ile Arugbo to benefit from the social welfare programme initiated by the late politician about 20 years ago.
According to the associates, the old women had resisted previous attempts to carry out the illegal demolition between the morning of December 31, 2019 and the early hours of yesterday.
In a statement in Ilorin and signed by the Chairman of the Saraki Legacy Forum, Alhaji Bibire Ajape, the family stated that following the announcement by the governor that he had revoked the title on the land, possessed by late Saraki for more than 20 years, they filed a case at the High Court, Ilorin, on December 31, 2019, challenging the action.
The suit with Number KWS/463/2019 between Asa Investments Limited and Governor of Kwara State, Kwara House of Assembly, Attorney General of Kwara State, Director General of the Bureau of Lands and the Inspector General of Police was filed on Tuesday.
“In an obviously desperate attempt to pre-empt the court case, the state governor directed one of his aides to lead a demolition team to the property on Tuesday morning accompanied by some policemen. However, the policemen withdrew when they saw the crowd of old women and youths who gathered to protest the illegal demolition exercise. With the withdrawal of the policemen, the team from the state government was forced to quickly leave the place.”
The statement alleged that it was about 3.30a.m yesterday that the security agents led by aide of the governor began heavy shooting of gun and tear gas canisters to dislodge the protesters before demolishing the buildings.