Pandemonium as Saraki, Sowore’s supporters clash in Ilorin

Omoyele Sowore
Omoyele Sowore

There was palpable tension at the Kwara State High Court, Ilorin, on Thursday following a clash between supporters of Senate President Bukola Saraki and Omoyele Sowore, publisher of the online newspaper, Sahara Reporters.

Supporters of the two parties had thronged the court premises for the resumed hearing of the case involving Mr. Saraki and Sahara Reporters, alongside its publisher, Mr. Sowore.

Earlier, in a Suit No. KWS / 23 / 2017, the court had awarded N4 billion against Mr. Sowore and Sahara Reporters, who were the defendants/respondents in cases of libel brought before it.

Consequently, a judge, Adeyinka Oyinloye, had issued an order to the United Bank for Africa, UBA and Guaranty Trust Bank, GTB, bankers of Mr. Sowore and Sahara Reporters, instructing them to immediately seize all funds held in a string of accounts associated with the defendants.

The development was condemned by media rights advocates, who warned judicial officers to exercise restraint in pronouncing judgements in libel cases.

The judge also said Sahara Reporters and Mr. Sowore must pay 10 per cent (N400 million) interest on the N4 billion monthly until both the principal damages and accrued interests are finally cleared.

Mr. Saraki instituted the case in Ilorin, accusing Sahara Reporters of publishing defamatory content against his personality.

Mr. Sowore later approached the high court presided over by Mr. Oyinloye through Falana and Falana Chambers to set aside its judgement.

At the resumed hearing on Thursday, PREMIUM TIMES gathered that supporters of both parties who could not gain entrance into the court stayed outside the court premises, singing solidarity songs in support of the gladiators. This, sources said, later led to a pandemonium.

Our correspondent learnt that journalists who came to cover the proceedings were also attacked by the crowd.

Meanwhile, as the fracas continued, many people were wounded including a middle-aged woman identified as Funmi Ajayi who was reportedly stripped bare by Mr. Saraki’s supporters.

In a video posted online by Sahara Reporters, Ms. Ajayi’s clothes were torn by some unidentified group of people, believed to be Mr. Saraki’s supporters. The woman reportedly travelled to Ilorin from Lagos to support Mr. Sowore.

Meanwhile, the Police said some suspects indicted in the violence had been arrested, about eight among them Mr. Sowore’s supporters.

PREMIUM TIMES gathered that they were taken away by the police on the allegations that they came to the court to disturb proceedings.

The Kwara State Commissioner of Police, Lawan Addo, has confirmed the arrest of five suspects on the premises of the Kwara State High Complex in Ilorin for alleged disturbances during the court proceedings.

Meanwhile, our correspondent gathered that the suit could not proceed because Mr. Saraki’s lawyer was unable to serve Mr. Sowore’s lawyer with the court processes.

The development made the judge adjourn the suit till October 26 for further hearing.

On Thursday, Inibehe Effiong, activist and one of the lawyers in Mr. Sowore’s team, confirmed the skirmishes in a Facebook post.

“I can confirm that activists and reporters who came to observe proceedings were attacked and molested. Some of them are presently in police custody,” he wrote.

“I cannot understand why the Temple of Justice will be visited with thuggery. What my eyes saw today is very shameful and upsetting. We cannot continue like this as a nation.”


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  • Patriotics

    Premium Times Editor,

    We are seeing the empty head of Bukola Saraki
    and its effect. A misfit wangled into office as Senate President by a
    conspiracy of his peers without regard to his personal demerits now unravels as
    an inspirer of street fights in court premises. This is the what can happen
    when a monkey is decorated with powder and lipstick, whereas, a decorated
    monkey is still a monkey. Nigeria has lost meaning and direction once the
    country lost consciousness and allowed rogues and thieves to strive. For with
    the loot the rogues and thieves have bought public offices and by virtue of
    bought offices, taken over Nigeria as their family asset. “Our current
    ruling class, particularly the senators has no value, no honour, no vision, no
    integrity, no compassion for the sufferings of fellow Nigerians. The attachment
    of ‘distinguished’ to their names is a horrible bastardisation and gross abuse
    of that term,” said Professor Itse Sagay, a presidential adviser on

    • F.X.T.S


      You are so bright and intelligent and it shows. I expect Sowore’s lawyers to take a cue from your lead.

      I have never before in my life any court in Nigeria issuing a judgment of ₦4 billion for alleged defamation,

      behind the back of a defendant who is ordered to pay it. I have never heard that before in my life. As such,

      on my part i have reasons to suspect Kwara State judiciary not so much as bidden to slavering sycophancy

      to Bukola Saraki but as weak and tenuous on jurisprudence within the meaning of constitutional fair hearing.

  • Dayo

    Sowore’s legal team should seek from the court a neutral ground for the continuation of the hearings.
    It could be Abuja or elsewhere as Ilorin is the base of Saraki and he has good influence on the infrastructure of governance there.

    • Julius

      Yes, I was wondering why his/SR lawyers weren’t asking for that. Knowing that Ole Saraki own that state, neutral state will be preferable.