The Oyo State Government on Monday took two contrasting positions on the demolition of popular gospel musician Yinka Ayefele’s Music House in Ibadan, the state capital.
While the government at a press conference insisted due process was followed in the partial demolition of the building, its counsel told an Ibadan high court the government knew nothing about the demolition.
At a press conference held at the Film Theatre, Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism on Monday, the government said that no court order restrained it from carrying out its statutory role in public interest, adding that the Music House, which housed Fresh Fm radio contravened the planning laws of the state.
According to the Special Adviser to Governor Ajimobi on Physical Planning and Development Control, who heads the Physical Planning Unit of the government, Waheed Gbadamosi, the government gave ample opportunity for owners of Music House to regularise its null and void building plan; but it did not deem it fit to obey the laws of the land.
Mr. Gbadamosi, who was at the conference with the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Seun Abimbola, the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, Toye Arulogun, and the Special Adviser, Communication and Strategy to Governor Ajimobi, Bolaji Tunji, explained that during the joint inspection visit to the organisation by state government officials and Music House officials, it was discovered that the building size measured 29.7m by 21.6m on ground as against the 11.925m by 10.20m in the survey plan/building plan submitted.
He said this means a gross overshooting of the allocated size approved with serious legitimacy implications.
Mr Gbadamosi argued that the action of the government in demolishing the building was not politically-motivated, neither was it an act of vendetta or against the radio station, as it continues transmission despite the partial demolition.
He said it was established during the visit that the building encroached into the sight distance of the Y junction along Lagelu Estate, stressing that a canteen, toilets, store and power house which were not in the plan submitted were attached to the wall fence.
The Special Adviser noted that the mast erected and staircase on site were not included in the plan submitted, noting that the basement of the plan which was meant for car park was also converted.
Mr Gbadamosi said that a letter was sent to Music House on June 29 to submit a fresh building plan application that will reflect the existing structures on site and regularise the anomalies, noting that the owners deliberately ignored the letter as there was no response untill demolition notices were sent on August 13.
He reiterated that the government’s action was not based on sentiments or witch-hunting, saying that contravention notices were served to different organisations in the state since June 14, 2017, including all radio stations.
He then displayed to journalists the responses received from some radio stations.
“On May 19, 2017, letters demanding for planning approval were sent to various institutions including University College Hospital, Kola Daisi University, University of Ibadan and other institutions and organisatons,” he said.
“On June 14, 2017, request for approval was sent to Music House and 22 other radio stations in Oyo State.
“On August 18, 2017 reminder Letter was sent to Music House and the letter was received by Adebisi Akinkunmi. On August 25, 2017 we went a step further to send a letter to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) titled Operation of Radio Stations without Physical Planning permit/Approval in Oyo State.
“Few months later, precisely November 27, 2017, another letter was sent to NBC complaining about Physical Planning Law and Regulations by the Radio station owners, developers and operators.
“We got a response from NBC on December 4, 2017 and NBC said that the issue is outside its mandate. This is to show that the action of the state government is not to witch-hunt anyone as we even reported the radio stations to NBC. We also wrote to the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on some banks 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.
“Music House submitted a building plan on June 14, 2018 which necessitated the joint inspection visit we carried out on June 25, 2018. It was discovered that it was meant to be an office complex and not a radio station among some other infractions including a building size measured 29.7 metres by 21.6 metres on ground as against the 11.925metres by 10.20metres in the survey plan/building plan submitted by Music House.”
Contrasting Position In Court
In a radical contrast to the explanation at the media conference, the state government denied demolishing the Music House at the law court.
The state government, through its counsel , Yomi Alliyu , made the denial before Justice Iyabo Yerima of the State High Court , Ring Road , Ibadan , on Monday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Alliyu appeared for both Abiola Ajimobi and Bola Abimbola, the governor and attorney-general of Oyo State, respectively.
Messrs Ajimobi and Abimbola are the first and second defendants in a case instituted by Mr Ayefele against the defendants.
The counsel said his clients were shocked to read about the reported demolition on Sunday morning .
According to him , the state government is planning to set up a panel of enquiry to find out those responsible for the demolition.
“My clients are men of honour that respect rule of law and constituted authority and will have no reason to demolish the said property ,” he told the court.
NAN reports that Mr Alliyu , who had earlier denied that his clients were served with court processes , quickly reversed himself when the judge showed him evidence of actual service on the first and second respondents.
The defence counsel, however, urged the court to adjourn the case pending the time the claimant would be able to file and serve his clients with notice of the ex- parte motion since the court was on vacation.
He said that filing of motion on notice and letter of urgency alone by the claimant was not enough.
But Mr Ayefele ’s counsel, Olayinka Bolanle, informed the court that the respondents had gone ahead to demolish the structure in spite of a court restraining order.
He said, “Even after the defendants had become aware of this proceedings , it is sad and unbelievable my Lord that the defendants in the wee hours of Sunday, August 19 , went to the property in dispute and demolished it.”
The claimant ’s counsel urged the court to reiterate its earlier order restraining the defendants from further demolition of the rest of the structure pending the determination of the suit.
Mr Yerima adjourned the case until September 12 for hearing of applications and urged parties to file necessary processes before the adjourned date.
PREMIUM TIMES reported how the Music House building of Mr Ayefele was demolished on Sunday.
The building houses Mr Ayefele’s Fresh FM.
The demolition was condemned by the Nigeria Bar Association, Nigeria Union of Journalists and many other Nigerians.
The Oyo State Government and Mr Ayefele have been locked in a war of words over the location of the building in recent weeks.