• Ile Arugbo’s CofO still nowhere to be found
Details have emerged on how ex-Senate President, Dr Abubakar Bukola Saraki owned ABS FC sat on a Kwara State facility for 7 years without paying a dime as rentage to the coffers of the government.
A source familiar with the development made the revelation following a narrative of forceful ejection of the football club by the state government in some quarters.
According to the source, ABS FC which is a private business since using the public facility in 2014 has not paid a dime as rentage despite getting the choice facility in circumstances reeking of impunity.
“The claim that the Governor ejected ABS Football Club from the Kwara State Stadium Complex is false and evil. We hope to see the club issuing an official position on the matter for the public to know what truly went down.
“Before then, here’s the truth of the development they seek to twist:
“First, the Club is a private business. It is not owned by the govt of Kwara State. So, like other private businesses, its use of public properties in the stadium must come at a cost just like other private businesses. This is the standard everywhere in the world.
“However, since 2014 when the Club started using the choice facility built and managed with public funds, it has not paid a dime as rent to the state. In 2014 when it was to start using the facility, the order just came from above for the Sports Council and others hitherto using the place to vacate it — for the use of a club privately owned by Senator Bukola Saraki. There were murmurs within the Sports Council about the impunity that such decision represented but nobody cared, anyway. There is no official record of any letter from the Ministry authorising the private football club to use that facility. Somebody just barked down the order! Whereas the Kwara United Fans Club and some other private shop owners (tenants) in the stadium complex are all paying for using public facilities! For example, Gidado FC uses a shop in the complex as an office and they are paying for it. Same for Emirate Youths Football Club.
“Last year, the KWIRS, in its drive to eliminate waste and sanitise revenue collection drive, beamed its search light on the stadium complex and asked how much the Football Club had been paying. The answer was that it was not paying anything!!! Of course they were shocked at such impunity. They said that is not going to happen anymore. If Fans Club of the public-owned Football Club and other private concerns are paying for using public facilities, why should that of the ABS Club be different? A letter was written to them that this has to change. They initially valued its annual rent at over 300K but this was brought down after negotiations to around 180K annually. Ordinarily, the KWIRS ought to collect the unpaid rent from when they started using the facility but it magnanimously said the club should start paying ONLY from Jan 2021. The Club said no; it would start paying from July 2021. The KWIRS and Sports Council kicked! So, the Council wrote the Club to vacate the facility if it wasn’t going to abide by the payment agreement.
“How is this tantamount to the Governor ejecting the Club? Is it right for a private business to operate from public facilities managed with taxpayers’ money without paying for same, even when other private businesses pay for same?
“That a private Club was “gifted” a public facility since 2014 without any due process is another evidence of the impunity that characterised the Saraki years in the state. It is this impunity they want to continue in the state unchecked.”
Meanwhile, various investigative committees set by the incumbent Kwara State Governor, AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq have found out how many choice properties belonging to the state government were sold to cronies at giveaway prices and at times without a kobo paid.
The development with the ABS FC is also similar to that of Ile Arugbo that sat for years on a property reportedly designed for the purpose of the Civil Service Secretariat.
Despite claims of following due process to acquire the land, the Saraki family which lays claim to Ile Arugbo has not been able to provide a Certificate of Occupancy (CofO) to show rightful possession of the land.
“This thinking explains how choice public lands/properties were occupied by private persons without a dime paid to the public. An example is the Ile Arugbo land which was meant for the civil service secretariat but was taken over with impunity without a dime paid to the public coffers. Haba!” the source added.