Kwara Govt Exonerates Toyin Saraki from Lease of Amusement Park
The Kwara State Government has cleared Mrs Toyin Saraki, wife of the former state governor, Senator Abubakar Bukola Saraki, of any involvement in the lease of the Ilorin Amusement Park to the Artee Group, operators of Park n Shop and Spar Supermarket brands in Nigeria. The clarification follows a reported law suit by an Ilorin-based group linking the former first lady to the lease of the park.
Making the clarification in a statement issued in Ilorin, the state capital, the Commissioner for Information and Communication, Prince Tunji Moronfoye, dismissed the group’s claim as politically-motivated disinformation, stressing that neither Mrs Saraki nor anyone associated with her was involved in the lease of the park. Moronfoye, who emphasised that Mrs Saraki only renovated the park in 2004 as a philanthropic gesture, further described the listing of Senator Saraki’s wife as a defendant in an alleged suit as a futile campaign orchestrated by the opposition and targeted at the Saraki family.
Giving a background to the transaction, the commissioner said the park was leased to Artee Group in 2010 when the company agreed to include Kwara State in its plans to expand to six locations in Nigeria following intense lobby by the state government. According to Moronfoye, Artee Group’s retail formats include department store chain Park n Shop and Dutch Supermarket Chain Spar. As at the end of 2012, according to Moronfoye, Artee Group had signed firm agreement with retail anchor tenants for the proposed mall, including Mr. Price, Spar, Park n Shop, KFC and BhS.
“In January 2010, Artee Group, promoters of the Spar retail brand in Nigeria and the Park & Shop retail brand acceded to request of the State Government and requested for a suitable location within the Ilorin Metropolis for the sole purpose of developing a modern shopping mall and entertainment arcade. Representatives of the State and those of Artee Group visited various sites in the Ilorin metropolis to determine the suitable place for the mall. The sites visited include, the Flower Garden, a site near the metropolitan square, the Amusement park (along Wahab Folawiyo road, Ilorin), which hitherto was being used as a relaxation/drinking pub, as well as a zoo accommodating few animals.
“After the visits, representatives of Artee Group chose the Amusement park as best suited for the project. Subsequently, the company made a financial offer on the property which the state government accepted on April 14, 2010. At no point in the transaction culminating in the lease of the Amusement Park to Artee Group did Mrs Saraki or anyone related or linked to her participate directly or indirectly.”
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