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