Several plots of land allocated in the 1980s for the construction of courtrooms in Ilorin, Kwara State, were sold off by former Governors Bukola Saraki and Abdulfatah Ahmed without following due process, state government officials have testified before a panel.
Messrs Saraki and Ahmed governed the state for eight years each from 2003 to 2019.
In August, the state government began a probe into the sale and unlawful acquisition of government properties in the state between May 29, 1999, and May 29, 2019.
The Kwara State Judicial Commission of Inquiry on the Sales of Government Assets is chaired by a retired judge, Olabanji Orilonishe.
At the sitting of the panel on Wednesday, the Director-General of the Bureau of Land, Bolaji Edun, testified that some plots of land in Tanke area of Ilorin originally allocated to the state judiciary were gradually sold off from 2009.
However, he said the government did not first revoke the original allocations in line with the law before selling off the land.
He said this in response to a petition filed before the panel by the state judiciary which is seeking the restoration of the land, citing a shortage of courtrooms in the state capital.
Mr Edun said the earliest reallocation of the affected parcels of land was made in 2009 and the issuance of the Certificate of Occupancy (C of O) started in 2013.
However, the Bureau of Lands said it could not find the C of O of one of the new allottees, Candidate Hotel, in its record.
“The extension and encroachment seen at the Hotel were not part of the C of O granted. In fact, there is no record of its title in our files,” Mr Edun told the panel.
He also testified that the entire land from Rhema Chapel around Tanke Tipper Garage to Prince Gambari building in Tanke Iledu was allocated to the state judiciary in 1980.
Also testifying, the Acting Surveyor-General of the State, Ibrahim Muhammad, said the said land belongs to the state judiciary.
He also said he could not find any file in respect of revocation of the land from the judiciary.
On Wednesday, members of the panel inspected the land on which Candidate Hotel and Nigeria Society of Engineering Secretariat are built in Tanke.
In a statement issued after the visit, the panel confirmed massive encroachment on the land, with the existing structures for high courts converted to poultry and the hotel’s makeshift bar.
The panel said it observed that Candidate Hotel and Nigeria Society of Engineering Secretariat are built on the frontage of the proposed Kwara State High Court in Tanke