Saraki Loses Bid to Reclaim Ile Arugbo, as Court Strikes out Suit
By Hammed Shittu
Kwara state High Court sitting in Ilorin, the state capital, Tuesday struck out the suit challenging the demolition and acquisition of the disputed land of the late Dr Olusola Saraki (Ile Arugbo) by the Kwara state government, for lack of diligent prosecution.
The case was brought by claimants to the land, Asa Investment Ltd, against the state government.
The state government, had January 2020 taken over the said property, alleging illegal acquisition by the claimants.
Counsel to the claimants AbdulAzeez Ibrahim had earlier filed an application brought pursuant to Order 11 Rule 17 of the Kwara state High Court 2005 seeking to substitute the late second claimant Alhaji Baba Eleku with one Abubakar Oluwatoyin.
Mr. Ibrahim also sought for adjournment of the case to another day to enable him file the statement of oath of Abubakar Oluwatoyin, adding that “he is an important party and witness in this case.
“We also want to call him as our core witness. The lead counsel in this case Dr Akin Onigbinde (SAN). Dr Onigbinde is in mourning mood. He lost his mother last week.”
He added with the absence of the lead counsel, claimants were unable to continue with the hearing of the matter.
Defendants counsel Salman Jawondo opposed the application for adjournment.
Jawondo, ex-attorney-general of the state added that “the claimants are not interested in expeditious prosecution of the case.
He hinted that one Ayo Ibrahim listed, first claimants in the case is in court for continuation of hearing.
In his short ruling presiding Justice Abiodun Adewara refused claimants application for adjournment, asking them to call their first witness.
Responding, Mr. Jawondo said “at this stage since they cannot continue with the case, we urge the court to invoke Order 39, Rule 4 to strike out the case.
“We are applying for a date for our counter claim.
But Mr. Ibrahim countered that “Order 39, Rule 4 is not applicable in the instant case and in the circumstance of today’s proceeding. We pray the court not to accede to prayers of the defendants’ counsel.”
Delivering his judgement, Justice Abiodun Adewara said Order 39, Rule 4 was not applicable in the matter.
He added that but “Order 39, Rule 20 readily comes to mind. Claimants are not prosecuting the case diligently. The suit is therefore struck out for lack of diligent prosecution.
He then adjourned the case to March 17, 2021 for the defendants’ proof of counter claim.
Fielding questions from reporters after the court session, AbdulAzeez Ibrahim said that “no cause for alarm. We will brief our lead counsel who will in turn brief his clients.
“That is not the end of the case. We have options of either to appeal against the judgment or to come back again for relisting of the matter. The matter was struck out on merit because the case has not been heard.”