Much has been said about the demolition last Sunday of popular musician, Yinka Ayefele’s Fresh FM Music House in Ibadan by the Oyo State government. ADEBAYO WAHEED writes on the intrigues and the power play surrounding the action.
Residents of the Oyo State capital, Ibadan, last Sunday woke up to the noise of tractors and bulldozers demolishing the N800 million Fresh FM’s Music House, owned by the popular musician, Olayinka Ayefele for allegedly contravening town planning laws.
Few hours after the exercise, people started whipping up sentiments and reading political meanings into the action of the Oyo State government under the leadership of Senator Abiola Ajimobi.
Many residents, nay many Nigerians, believed that the action was politically motivated, more especially when the radio station had been anti-government, its policies and programmes.
Others believed that the owner of the building was a victim of political game power, and as a result the demolition exercise was politicised.
Also, because most of the people who featured on the radio station programmes were mainly members of the opposition political parties, the opposition quickly lashed on to the incident to label it political vendetta.
The Oyo State government stormed the Music House at the Challenge area of Ibadan where the building was located and pulled it down, despite pending court action to stop the demolition.
In an attempt to stop the exercise, Ayefele had approached the court which ruled that ‘there are serious issues to be determined’, and adjourned the case to August 20. The Oyo State government had been duly served.
Ayefele’s counsel, Olayinka Bolanle, in an exparte motion filed before the court, sought for an order of the court restraining the state government from demolishing the property pending the determination of the suit.
Bolanle also stated that due process was followed in the construction of the structure, while relevant approvals were obtained from the state’s departments and agencies associated with land and housing.
Justice I. Yerima ordered the claimant to ensure service of the court process on the respondent and adjourned the case till Monday for the hearing of the exparte motion.
But, as early as 5.00am on Sunday, under tight security, the state government moved in with bulldozers and demolished part of the edifice.
Prior to this day, the government agency, Bureau of Town Planning and Development Control, BTPDC, had pasted on the building a demolition notice giving the management of the structure three days’ ultimatum.
Following the demolition, some angry fans of Ayefele went on protest, chanting anti-government songs; they also destroyed the billboard of an All Progressives Congress, APC, gubernatorial aspirant, Olasunkanmi Tegbe, who is rumoured to be Ajimobi’s anointed candidate.
There were insinuations that the radio station had alleged that the state governor, Senator Ajimobi owns the new modern abattoir in Akinyele Local Government Area of the state, where he is raking in millions of naira monthly.
The last straw that broke the camel’s back was when they featured a member of the Federal House of Representatives and son of a former governor of the state, who was alleged to have insulted the state governor and accused the leadership of the ruling APC of insincerity.
In a swift reaction to the agonies which trailed the demolition of the edifice, housing the rave making Fresh FM, popularly called Music House, Itesiwaju-Oyo Coalition Movement, a socio-political group, dispraised the state government under Ajimobi in what it called gross abuse of power.
The coordinator of the group, Dr. Wasiu Olatubosun, condemned the government for ignoring the state High Court plea which enjoined the parties involved in the suit filed regarding the demolished structure to exercise restraint till the following day, Monday for a proper hearing having notified all parties involved.
He said it was becoming unambiguous that the ruling administration in the state has degenerated into a disrespecter of public views and judicial processes, having tremendously enjoyed the support of both aforementioned while seeking the people’s mandate in the elections and fighting injustice in the opposition.
He lamented that a supposed authority, which ought to be a shield for deprived individuals and institutions, has turned otherwise in destroying peoples source of livelihoods in spite of the recurring hardship necessitated by the series of anti-masses policies, with continuing sack, non-regular payment of serving workers and retirees salaries and pensions across the institutions.
Olatubosun, a former local government chairman for five years under Ajimobi, maintained that the destruction of Fresh FM was politically motivated and a pure calculated ploy to gag media practitioners and other stakeholders as teeming people of the state have been disillusioned with the government’s dissemination of lies and deceits of the failed policies and efforts as promised while seeking reelection in the 2015 election as the next electoral transition is fast taking shapes.
He harped on the audio tape account credited to the chairman of the demolished Fresh FM where he said the government, through its appointees had severally tried to interfere with its broadcast of programmes and personalities to be featured in its series of public affairs debates.
He emphatically said the narration of Ayefele, where he revealed how Oyo Commissioner for Information, Tayo Arulogun, warned the management of the radio station to desist from airing the relocation of Bodija market butchers to Akinyele abattoir was an eye opener to every sane mind that the government of the day is not sincere with its widely propagandized claims of the project.
Also, the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, demanded for an apology and compensation for the wanton destruction of the radio station, Fresh FM.
The NUJ said that it was irked by the seemingly deliberate effort of government and its agents to ceaselessly attack and assault some sections of the Nigerian media, prevent such media houses and their journalists from carrying out their legitimate duties, under the guise of enforcing the law.
NUJ National President, Abdulwaheed Odusile, said, “We are particularly alarmed by the reckless action of the government of Oyo State, which today (last Sunday) demolished the premises of FRESH FM in Ibadan. For whatever reason, the destruction of the media house by agents of Governor Ajimobi was insensitive and punitive and an attempt to stifle the media.”
The NUJ condemned the acts of impunity and reiterated its position of working closely with stake holders to promote a safer environment for media organisations and journalists to operate.
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, also condemned the demolition of the building by the Oyo State Government. In a statement issued by its National Publicity Secretary, Kola Ologbondiyan, on Sunday in Abuja, the party described the demolishing of the building, said to be worth N800 million as “horrifying, wicked and speaks volume of the insensitivity of the perpetrators.”
The Oyo State chapter of the Action Democratic Party, ADP, also condemned the demolition, saying that it was illegal. The party, in a statement by its spokesperson, Lawal Akindele, said the demolition was not only illegal, but wicked, adding that the action will discourage potential investors from considering the state.
Akindele said, “We woke up to the news of the demolition of the Music House. At first, we doubted it as the case was already in court. We later confirmed after some of our members, who visited the structure, came back.
“For us, we see the demolition as an act of cowardice. We are in a democracy. And the constitution we operate is clear on issues like this; whenever there is a dispute between two people, especially with government, the court is the best place to seek redress.
“Ayefele followed due process and the court had fixed tomorrow, Monday 20, 2018 for hearing. The demolition, especially at an odd hour, is undemocratic. Just like Dr Ayefele had alleged, it is political.
“The building was not built yesterday. It has been there for close to ten years. Governor Ajimobi has been in government for over seven years while Fresh FM is close to three years.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, SERAP, accused Governor Ajimobi of executive rascality and strongly condemned “the unlawful demolition of Fresh FM building owned by Yinka Ayefele, and the forced evictions of residents by the Oyo State government,” describing it as a “grave violation of fundamental human rights and contrary to international law.”
SERAP in a statement signed by its deputy director, Timothy Adewale, said, “This is a gross abuse of powers by the Oyo State government and Governor Ajimobi against a radio station simply doing its job.
“The action is politically motivated, patently arbitrary and entirely inconsistent with international human rights standards and national laws. The action amounts to executive rascality and seriously undermines the integrity and authority of our courts. This kind of action has no place in a democratic society that is based on the rule of law.”
However, in a short broadcast, the Ipoti Ekiti-born music icon, Ayefele, called for calm, saying, “If you trully loves Yinka Ayefele, please don’t engage in any form of violence because of what happened.
”If the music house is pull down Fresh F.M continues, since we didn’t go against the law and ethics of media practices and we didn’t abuse government, let us leave the rest for God, He will handle the situation.
“Please don’t destroy government properties, especially the Ajumose bus parked in front of the Music House, they knew why they put it there, please don’t touch it, let it be.”
He thanked Oyo State government, particularly the state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism for masterminding the plot against Fresh F.M., adding, “The Music House may be leveled but Fresh FM continues.”
Ayefele however urged Fresh FM’s staff not to be deterred by what happened but summon courage and move on, saying, “No matter how pained I may have been over any situation, I will rather commit that person into God for his judgment.
“Everything has reasons, it has a purpose, God has reason for everything, let me thank Oyo State government, I really appreciate you. Thank you for you love and support.”
Some of the earlier callers at the Music House include: Engineer Seyi Makinde, gubernatorial aspirant of the PDP, Hon Dapo Lam Adesina, member of the National Assembly, representing Ibadan South East/North East federal constituency.
Others were: Hon Segun Olaleye, Hon Wasiu Olatubosun, secretary Unity Forum, a splinter group of APC in Oyo State among others.
But defending its action, the state government explained that the demolition notice to Music House, Fresh FM 105.9, Ibadan was not based on sentiments or witch-hunting, but that contravention notices were served to different organisations in the state since June 14, 2017 including all radio stations in the state.
The state Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Mr. Arulogun, said that government observed that property owners in the state were deviating from the originally approved building plans without seeking physical planning approvals from the Oyo State Bureau of Physical Planning and Development Control.
Arulogun stated that the decision of the state government to demand for the building approved plan was not peculiar to Music House, Fresh FM, as several companies and institutions, such as University of Ibadan, Kola Daisi University, University College Hospital, banks and radio stations in the state were asked to provide their planning approval, saying that the government recently demolished several banks ATM extension and some local government structures in the state.
The government spokesman said that the letter to Fresh FM was received by one Bamiduro Aderonke, and a reminder letter dated August 18, 2017 was sent to the radio station to again request for the planning approval/permit for the radio station in line with the Oyo State Physical and Development Control Laws in which the radio station was expected to forward the approved building plan to the Bureau within seven days, noting that a copy of the letter was received by Adebisi Akinfunmi, on the 21st of August, 2017.
Arulogun said that the submitted building approval was actually meant for an office complex, and not a radio station, thereby contravening the Oyo State Physical Planning and Development Control laws, Sections 30, 31 and 32 of the Oyo State Physical Planning and Urban Development Law of 2012.
He added that the submitted approval from Music House deviated from the approved plan which effect makes the approval null and void, because deceitful information was given to the approving authority and also deviation from the approval granted both in construction and use.
He added that a physical inspection was carried out on June 25, 2018, to ascertain the extent of the deviation from the approval where it was discovered that apart from the change in use of the building, spatial standards in terms of setback, airspace and parking spaces were found to be grossly inadequate.
The commissioner said that a letter was sent to Music House June 29, to submit a fresh building plan application that will reflect the existing structures on site, noting that the management deliberately ignored the letter as there was no response from their end till date.
He said that the deviant posture of the radio station prompted the Bureau to serve a three day Demolition Notice on August 13, which expired on August 15.
Arulogun said that the government had also received petitions, subsequent upon three fatal accidents that occurred around Music House in the last nine months, as the petitioners urged the government to look at the physical structure of the organization in relation to the dual carriage way which lends itself easily to accidents.
He emphasised that the government will do the needful and follow due process in accordance with the laws of the land, but will not dignify or elevate the tantrums of Music House, Fresh FM.
LEADERSHIP Sunday discovered that not less than three fatal accidents had occurred on the dual carriageway in front of the Music House in the last nine months.
Also on the allegation that Ajimobi owns the abbatoir in Akinyele and that he rakes in millions everyday, which was said to have been revealed by Fresh FM and which was alleged to have been the reason for the demolition, LEADERSHIP on Sunday findings revealed that the abbatoir project was conceived and executed by the Adebayo Alao-Akala administration, long before Ajimobi assumed power as the chief executive of Oyo State.
As the intrigues continue to play out and the power play among political gladiators continues to evolve, certain facts have emerged in the saga.
First, it is on record that the Music House/Fresh FM was the only institution that was asked by the state government to regularise their documents, but it was only the Music House that continuously ignored all entreaties from government to do the needful.
Again, the law remains the law and it is no respecter of any person, irrespective of the person’s status, position et al, what is good for the goose should also be sauce for the gander.
Meanwhile, the embattled popular musician, Ayefele, and the Oyo State governor, Senator Ajimobi met on Thursday over the demolished Music House in Ibadan, belonging to the popular musician.
They both agreed to hold talks to find an amicable resolution to the issues that led to the partial demolition of Ayefele’s Music House, Challenge area, Ibadan.
The development is a pointer that a permanent and final settlement of the crisis over which both parties have proved their popularity and superiority positions, is finally in view.