Nigeria: Why We Were Evicted From Kwara Stadium - Saraki's Football Club

Abubakar Bukola Saraki FC alleges "unsportmanship political undertones" in its eviction from the Kwara Stadium office complex

The management of Abubakar Bukola Saraki (ABS) football club owned by former Senate President Bukola Saraki has reacted to its eviction from the Kwara Stadium Complex, Ilorin.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) had on Monday reported that the football club was issued a notice to vacate one of the complex offices in its possession.

"The management of Kwara State Sports Council wish to inform you/your club that the bill for the establishment of Kwara State Sports Commission has been passed into law and presently awaiting assent by the Governor, Malam AbdulRahman AbdulRazaq.

"The Council has been requested to make available comfortable office accommodation for the incoming board chairman and members to start work as soon as possible.

"In view of the foregoing, the council wish to appeal to you/your club that the council will need to make use of the facility in the club's in possession to accommodate the incoming Commission chairman and members," the notice signed by the council's Secretary, A.J. Adebisi, read.

Speaking on the eviction notice, the club's secretary, Funmilayo Owolabi, said the ABS FC Secretariat was formerly a non-permanent structure site office temporarily put in place by the Engineering firm that upgraded the complex.

"Upon completion of the stadium upgrade and evacuation of materials from the office by the firm, the management of ABS FC applied to the Kwara State Ministry of Sports and Youth Development, through the Sports Council, for the use of the facility as office accommodation cum store and the request was graciously granted.

"We wish to correct the impression that we were evicted because of our refusal to pay rent for our office facility as we had no prior discussions or any requests by KWIRS (Kwara State Internal Revenue Service) to pay for the facility," the secretary said.

She added that its dealings with the KWIRS had been on the areas of tax payments, payment for the use of the stadium fields for our matches, in which we have continued to maintain our obligations.

"Only recently, the management of the Kwara State Sports Council, through the Stadium Manager, Mr Wale Obalola, at an informal meeting hinted us on directives to recover the facility from ABS FC, and also discussed agreements on payment for the office," Mrs Owolabi explained.

She further stated that a few days after the meeting, the State Sports Council wrote to the club asking it to sign an agreement for a yearly rent payment of N180,000.00, to be paid in two installments, subject to negotiations.

"We sent a reply to the Sports Council, requesting to pay the sum of N150,000.00 in three installments, payable quarterly, and demanded for the Bank Account to make payment to, for the first installment.

"Few weeks after, it became clear to us that there were other unseen forces, teleguided unsportsmanly utterances/reactions and political undertones bent on seeing ABS Ilorin FC out of the office, including stringent conditions that the letter of payment agreement dated 24th May 2021 was to take effect backward from January, 2021.

"We sorted for calm and reminded them that issues of sports and youths development of which the club stood for should not be joined with conventional politics of any kind.

"Almost immediately, we received a notice titled "Request To Vacate Facility" signed by the Council's Secretary, A.J Adebisi. "

She said it was evidently clear that "muddling negotiations for payment and notice to vacate the facility for use by the sports commission depicts a clear case of contraction which confirmed our fears of unseen forces and unsportmanship political undertones."

Meanwhile, the club had requested the Council to give it some time to look for alternative office accommodation and to enable it complete the ongoing Nigeria National League (NNL) season which has only 4 matches to go.

ABS Ilorin FC is currently sitting fourth on the 2020/2021 football league with 21 points from 15 games.

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