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Monday, 20 August 2018

Public Out-Cry As NBA, Atiku, Serap, PDP Condemn Demolition Of Yinka Ayefele’s Fresh FM Building

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There was outrage yesterday over the demolition of popular singer Yinka Ayefele ’s building housing the radio station, Fresh FM, in Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.

The government, last Thursday, threatened to demolish the building for allegedly contravention of the state’s building codes.

Thousands of residents stormed the Music House building housing the private radio station on Aare Arisekola Alao Way at Challenge in Ibadan.

Many of them carried placards.
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They sang solidarity songs condemning the government for destroying the property.

The station’s Director of Corporate Affairs and Promotions, Mr David Ajiboye, said a N28 million transmission equipment, which was reportedly delivered to the radio station last week and yet to be inaugurated, was among property destroyed.

The singer’s fans caused a traffic snarl around Challenge en route the Toll Gate as well as the Lagos-Ibadan Expressway .

The Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Ibadan branch, has condemned the demolition of the Music House situated at Challenge area of Ibadan, by the Oyo state government.
The demolition of the Music House owned by the popular gospel musician, Yinka Ayefele, on Sunday. The building also housed Mr Ayefele’s popular radio station in the state, Fresh FM.
The location of the demolished building had generated controversies in recent weeks after the Oyo State Government said that it contravenes urban and physical planning laws of the state.
Perhaps, sensing the government was planning to demolish it, Mr Ayefele last week approached a court to seek an order barring the state government from demolishing the building. Although the court did not grant the order, it adjourned the suit to the coming week.
On Sunday, in a statement signed by the Chairman and the Secretary of the NBA in Ibadan, Oluwole Akintayo and Akeem Okelola, the association described the demolition as a breach of the rule of law.
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“It is our understanding that there is a pending suit in court over the decision of the Oyo State Government to demolish the property. It is trite that once parties subject themselves to the jurisdiction of a court, they must be ready to abide by the outcomes and refrain from taking further step that can prejudice the case and render the final decision nugatory.”
“The Rule of Law is the basis upon which a just society is governed. Even if there is no express order of court restraining the government, the fact that parties are already in court over the matter is a sufficient reason why the government must stay action.”
“It is a cardinal principle of law that once an application for injunction is served, the parties should wait for the outcome of the application so as not to foist a fait accompli on the court. In view of the above, the Oyo State Government should not have carried out the demolition exercise.”
Citing instances, it was stated that; “the Supreme Court of Nigeria has since settled this in the landmark case of Ojukwu v. Military Governor of Lagos State [1986] 1 NWLR (Pt.18) 621 that parties including state governments, must not resort to self-help and that the fact that a matter is in court is sufficient to restrain parties from taking the law into their hands.”
“It must be clear to the actors in government, being products of democratic rule, that they must at all times abide by and respect the Rule of Law.”
In his reaction to the demolition, a former Nigerian vice president, Atiku Abubakar, expressed sadness.
“The reports of the demolition of a radio station in Oyo fills me with a deep sadness. Press freedom is sacrosanct. It’s equally saddening that at a time when jobs are badly needed, a radio station which was providing jobs is needlessly demolished,” Mr Abubakar said on his official Twitter handle.
Also, Nigeria’s main opposition party, PDP, condemned the demolition.
In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Sunday, the party described the demolition of the building as “horrifying, wicked and speaks volume of the insensitivity of the perpetrators”.
“The PDP notes that Aiyefele’s building was demolished for allegedly singing songs considered to be against the interest of the All Progressives Congress (APC), even when our Constitution allows all citizens right to free speech, freedom of opinion and association within the ambit of the law.
“The PDP alerts Nigerians of a dangerous trend whereby the current clampdown on the media is now being extended to other public opinion moulders, including musicians and perhaps actors.”
Mr Ologbondiyan urged all public-spirited groups and individuals to condemn what he described as “emerging assault on free citizens for no just cause”.
“Nigerians, must at all times, be free to hold and canvass opinion, politically associate and aspire, as long as their actions are within
the ambit of our laws,” he said.
A civil society group, SERAP, and the Nigeria Union of Journalists had earlier condemned the demolition of the building.
Part of the building, called Music House, was demolished around 4.30 am by a team, including soldiers in tow.

The operation was said to have lasted about an hour.

The affected parts include the fence, the spiral staircase, front of the building and the topmost part, which serves as waiting area to Ayefele’s office.

The station stopped transmission for about two hours, urging the crowd not to take laws into its hands.

Ayefele urged his supporters not to damage the mass transit bus parked in front of the Music House.

Prominent individuals who visited the station include the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant, Seyi Makinde; Senator Olufemi Lanlehin, of Africa Democratic Party (ADC); Sharafadeen Aliu (ADC); former deputy governor and ex-Nigerian Ambassador to Jordan Taofeek Arapaja; member of the House of Representatives for Ibadan North East/South East Mr Dapo Lam-Adeshina, Olusegun Olaleye; and Dr Wasiu Olatubosun.

They described the demolition as callous.

The government, on August 13, issued a three-day notice of demolition to the owners of Music House.

Before the ultimatum lapsed last Wednesday, Ayefele had filed a suit against the government before the State High Court, sitting in Ibadan and presided over by Justice Iyabo Yerima.

The court adjourned the matter till today (Monday) for hearing and ruling on the ex parte application filed by Ayefele’s lawyer Bolanle Olayinka.

Last week, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Toye Arulogun, said the decision to demolish the structure was based on contravention of planning laws.

He added that many other structures that contravened the planning laws were also served with notices of demolition.

Special Adviser to the Governor on Communication and Strategy Mr Bolaji Tunji said the matter had been on between the government and owners of Music House.

The Oyo State chapter of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ) said it was disturbed by the demolition.

In a statement by its Chairman and Secretary, Adewumi Faniran and Bola Ogunlayi, the union said it was “particularly worried that the exercise had to be carried out when the matter is before a court of competent jurisdiction”.

The statement said: “As the            Fourth Estate of the Realm and believers in the rule of law, Oyo State NUJ expected that the court would have been left to take a definite decision on the demolition before it was carried out.

“The Oyo State Council, therefore, calls on the government to ensure that no matter what, it comes to the aid of Fresh FM, which has been a pride of Ibadan in particular and Oyo State as a whole, by relocating them to another site and ensure smooth take-off of their operations once again.”

The owner of One Love Family, Satguru Maharaji, yesterday urged residents not to demonise Governor Abiola Ajimobi and his party, the All Progressives Congress (APC), on the demolition.

Maharaji, a prince of Ibadan who described Ajimobi as a good man, said he had known the governor for many years as a godly man with human feelings and compassion.

Addressing reporters at his Ibadan Ashram to mark 25 years of declaration on Nigeria as a war-free country, Maharaji urged the parties to explore legal options to resolve the matter.

He said: “I was at Yinka Ayefele’s Music House this morning (yesterday) and I learnt that the governor gave demolition order after several correspondences between the government and Ayefele. The governor, to me, is a good man who has demonstrated that he is a father to all.

“He should accommodate all shades of opinion. After all, we have many money bags who could not use such money to provide jobs for the jobless and provide food for the hungry. But this man (Ayefele), despite his condition, used his money to provide jobs for the people.”

On his Facebook page after the demolition, Ayefele said: “Oyo State government did at last… My pains, my sweat… So help me God.”

Others on the scene include the Secretary of Unity Forum, a splinter group in the state chapter of the APC, Dr Wasiu Olatunbosun, and the lawmaker representing Ibadan North in the House of Assembly Olusegun Olaleye.

The NUJ has expressed anger at the demolition of Music House in Ibadan.

In a statement last night by its National President Waheed Odusile, the union said: “We are particularly alarmed by the reckless action of the Government of Oyo State, which demolished the premises of Fresh FM in Ibadan. “For whatever reason, the destruction of the media house by agents of Governor Abiola Ajimobi was insensitive and punitive and an attempt to stifle the media.”

The Oyo State Government is yet to react to the demolition. When contacted the information commissioner, Toyin Arulogun, he said the state government will address journalists on the matter on Monday.

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