A former chieftain of the Peoples Democratic Party in Osun State, Akin Adeyi, shares his views with BOLA BAMIGBOLA on the demolition of his restaurant and office by the state government
You had an issue with the Osun State Government over the structure on a piece of land. What is the issue?
Around 4am on December 3, 2022, I got a call from one of my employees, who told me that some people had invaded the Kwality Restaurant. He said the perpetrators were initially knocking violently, which made the workers suspect that the invaders must be armed robbers. So, they refused to open the door for them. Later, the suspects broke in after forcing the door open and after entering, they started beating those they found in the building and also questioned them on why they refused to open the door. Later, they asked them, ‘Where is Akin Adeyi?’ The workers replied that I was not sleeping there and that I had probably gone home to sleep and besides that, it had been long since they saw me because I travelled around November 24.
The employee, who called me, managed to escape after much beating. The suspects were many and they came with cutlasses, guns, knives, charms and other weapons. Olumide, a brother to the supervisor of the place, was dealt machete blows. Later, while still speaking with him, the phone went off and he later came back online saying that they had started demolishing Kwality Restaurant. He said they were bringing down the structures because they went there with a bulldozer. I tried calling some people, but unfortunately, there were various issues, which made it difficult to get through to them. Later, one of them managed to pick his call and I told him what I learnt was happening. He went there but the access road to the place had been cordoned off by the thugs on both sides. They didn’t allow anyone to pass, and those that were allowed to pass were not allowed to go in with their phones. The thugs were there till around 6.30am. The witnesses said the thugs came with two Prado Sport Utility Vehicles, three Hilux vans and buses.
At that time, there was no one that I could link the act to, but later on, when those that were beaten regained consciousness, they said policemen were there, who wore black T-shirts, but the thugs who accompanied them were around 100 and they carted away whatever they could lay their hands on, while the bulldozer crushed others. They said the only person they could recognise was Alhaji Ganiyu Olaoluwa (former Chairman, Olorunda Local Government Area). Alhaji Olaoluwa was said to be wearing a fez cap, T-shirt, jeans and a nose mask. Despite all that, they were able to recognise him as he dished out instructions because he is a public figure.
What happened thereafter?
Later, some people came forward and said they recognised one Lekan Emir, who is well known in Osogbo. After one to two days, other names were mentioned. Through that, I was gathering information. About four days to the inauguration of Governor Ademola Adeleke, a friend named Kayode called and asked for my location, and I told him that I was in Osogbo. He said if I had anything valuable where Kwality Restaurant was located, I should go and take it because he had reliable information that some people would be coming to demolish the place. I asked him, ‘Who are the people who wanted to do such a thing?’ His reply was, ‘Awon eniyan re na ni’ (your people are behind it). He said my people – PDP members – were behind the plan. I further asked him what the reason could be and why they wanted to destroy my property, but he didn’t answer; rather, he told me to act on the information that he gave me. Unfortunately, I didn’t take it seriously because it is unimaginable that Ademola Adeleke’s people can go as far as this. Not until the night of the incident, when I was called by one of my employees, did I begin to have a deep thought over what my friend told me earlier.
But from a video in our possession, it was stated that Alhaji Gani Olaoluwa owned the land where you erected the structures. It was also said that a court ordered the demolition. Are these true?
Ask him (Olaoluwa) to show you the papers of the land and also ask him to show you where exactly his name is written on the document of the land. I have been on the land for 14 years. I got it through the local government scheme. It is a fact that he was the chairman of the local government area when the land was sold. But how has that conferred the position of a landlord on him? I was the one who went to court, and what I went to court to seek was enforcement of my fundamental human rights when some people were encroaching on the land. The case was titled, ‘Akin Adeyi vs Unknown persons’. Assuming without consideration that you are even the landlord and the tenant refused to pay his/her rent, it does not mean that you should demolish the house the tenant is living in. Where did you derive the powers to demolish the structure on a piece of land? The highest you can do is to go to court. I was the one who went to court and it was a fundamental human rights case that I took to court.
You said some people were encroaching on the land; who are these people?
I approached the High Court seeking an order that unknown persons should not disturb me there again and Ganiyu Olaoluwa applied to be joined in the suit alongside some other people, whose names were included. In any case, if you seek the permission of any court to join a suit, the court will grant you the permission because they will want to listen to what you have to say.
What happened to the case? Has judgment been delivered?
We are still in court on this matter and it has been from one adjournment to the other. The latest adjournment was December 4. If you read the papers that they are parading as a court ruling, you will see it there. The judge struck out the case because he was tired of the drama involved.
What was the drama about?
Yemisi Opalola (Police Public Relations Officer in the state) also said they received a court order regarding the demolition and my lawyer has written to them to ask that the police produce the court order that they executed. Failure to do that, the police and everybody involved in the demolition will be joined in the suit. They are pure criminals and armed robbers. They went to loot my place of everything that I have worked for, which were worth millions of naira. They will pay for those things and they will go to jail because they acted purely as armed robbers.
We learnt some other structures close to yours were also pulled down. Is that true?
There were some other structures on the land. They are the structures of the people that I allotted small portions to. The structures were built by those people. We have people who sell different things like building materials, food, drinks and more there. Unfortunately, all their structures were destroyed too.
Shortly after the structures were demolished, you blamed the incident on the new Osun State Governor, Ademola Adeleke. From all you have said, there was nowhere you mentioned how he played a role in pulling down the structures. Why are you linking him to the incident?
I have been going through a lot since the time I wrote to the PDP Appeals Committee. It was my right as a member of the Peoples Democratic Party and I think that was a civilised way of doing things; I did it out of passion for the party. All I said was that we shouldn’t do all the work and later end up in disgrace or lose all our efforts to the opposition party. My background as a former DSS officer comes into play in anything that I am doing. When everyone was submitting their credentials, they took everything to Abuja, which returned them to the state so that if anyone had anything to say concerning them (credentials), they should appear before the appeals panel.
I appeared before the panel. I explained what we found in the six aspirants’ credentials. Adeleke’s irregularities were so numerous that they were unpardonable. I listed everything, the details of the irregularities, forgery, inconsistencies and more, because I knew there was no way those things could have scaled through. That was what I did at that time. The panel was headed by (former Information minister) Prof Jerry Gana and some governors were members. For two days, we sat down and critically looked at everything that I pointed out, and they agreed with me that there was a big problem with this one.
Was that why your structures were demolished?
I am not an illiterate like them and the most civil way all over the world, the appropriate thing to do is to approach the court when you are displeased. I can’t go their own way of reckless and stupid thought to go and do what they have done. I couldn’t just believe that such could happen to unilaterally bulldoze someone’s property in this century. They have to explain to the court where they derived such powers. The government doesn’t have the right to do that. We will approach the court; get the necessary papers and everything done.
It was also alleged that you left the PDP for the Accord Party. Is that correct?
The first time I was attacked, it was at the PDP (state) secretariat. The second time, I was attacked under the guise of a political issue because I was not on the same page with them on Senator Ademola Adeleke’s credentials. Those that were behind the attack; I wrote a petition against them. They were arrested and remanded in prison for eight days. At that time when Dr Akin Ogunbiyi was crossing to the Accord Party, we had no option but to do that. We had a congress before that. I think a delegates’ congress, and three of our followers were killed; one at Iwo and two at Ipetumodu. We were holding the proper congress that would produce the party’s candidate. All the preparations that they were making on Adeleke’s side then were against Akin Ogunbiyi.
Every hotel was filled up with thugs and Niger Delta boys. They made it seem like they were going for war. Later, information got to us and Akin Ogunbiyi had to leave the PDP. He does not want anyone’s blood to be shed. My name was the first on the list of those that they wanted to kill. The information got to me; it wasn’t that I didn’t know that the Accord Party wasn’t so strong to make it, but I had to go and look for a place to hide my head and that was why we moved to the Accord Party then. I didn’t register as a member of the Accord Party. I only went there to help my friend. There was nothing I could do at that time but to vacate the PDP. I am comfortable that we all left, because if we didn’t leave that time, their mission was to attack us. As you know, Dr Akin Ogunbiyi is a gentleman and he cherished the lives of his followers.
What did you do to get justice after the demolition?
The security agents are doing their work, particularly the DSS and the police. They are working and soon, their investigation will manifest. It is just in a matter of days. For those who have been calling to express their sympathy and have identified with me at this time of tribulation, I appreciate them. Those who see this as barbaric and have been condemning it, especially the PDP members, who are disappointed at this terrible act, they see it as an act of someone trying to give the PDP a bad name, especially at this time that the PDP is just coming in as a new government in Osun State, it isn’t a good way to start. It was on the dot of seven days of Senator Ademola Adeleke’s inauguration that this happened and it climaxed his activities in those seven days.
Those activities, those policies and decisions have not been popular. It was when this happened to me that somebody went with thugs and caterpillars to go and bulldoze another person’s property. This hasn’t added a very good name for the party, but condemnation all over the world. I have received calls in the past few days like never before in my life and it has been leaving strong words of condemnation for the party. The day after the incident, the governor issued a press statement through his press officer, Rasheed Olawale, that he had all along been in meetings, and so, he couldn’t have been the one who perpetrated the act. Tell me, if he wasn’t in any meeting, would the governor have followed them to perpetrate the act?
But Governor Adeleke has ordered an investigation into the incident. He also denied involvement. How will you respond to this?
That was what he said in a statement, but can the inquiry be done in isolation of me, who is the victim? Where in that statement did he even empathise with me? The way he handled the incident isn’t the way the government handles such cases. This is not the way that the government will prove its innocence. This happened under his government and the perpetrator is a close associate to the governor. The governor can’t say that Gani Olaoluwa operated in isolation of his own consent as a governor. It is a major decision to go and demolish an entire hotel and an office, which are someone else’s property. It is a major decision and the perpetrator is still seen with you and around you, and you, as a governor of the state, are claiming not to know about it. Silence even means consent.
Gani was just being used, he just used whatever matter that is between the PDP and I, and they just capitalised on it to do whatever they did. They just used it as an excuse. It has gone beyond the problem of the party. There is no ruling, no court judgment or order that said they should go and touch me or my building. Why didn’t they do it two weeks ago (before November 27) when they were not in government? They can only tell that to a fool and not intelligent people.