Oluseye Ojo, Ibadan
Special Adviser on Communication and Strategy to Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State, Mr. Bolaji Tunji, has said the Music House, owned by a popular gospel artiste, Yinka Ayefele, which houses his radio station, Fresh FM 105.9, Ibadan, was partially demolished in the overriding interests of the people, saying the governor did not, in any way, witch-hunt either the Fresh FM or its owner.
Fielding questions from journalists on the demolition of the Music House, Tunji said: “I don’t want us to start personalising this matter by saying whether Governor Ajimobi knows about this or not.
“But looking at what really has happened, it is about the state government and an individual that contravened the building laws of the state.
“It is not a matter of whether the governor is in the know or whether the governor ordered that the building should be demolished. It is not the case at all, and people should not make it that way. We should not see it that way. They should not see it as a kind of witch-hunt. It is not witch-hunting.
“The Music House is not the only place that has been demolished in the overriding interests of the people of the state. I remembered that even the governor’s father’s house prices, at a time road construction was on going in Ibadan was demolished at a time.
“The governor’s in-law, Chief Kola Daisi’s Civic Centre was demolished and another building that he owned in another part of Ibadan was also demolished when the government was trying to construct road in the area.
“So, if the government is saying it is in the overriding interests of the people, then it is not a personal thing, or witch-hunt. In the case of the present situation, it is not that there has not been any ongoing issue on it.
“As far as last year, the state’s building planning authority had written to the owners of the Music House, Evangelist Yinka Ayefele, that where he has his building, is not where it is supposed to be in terms of the fact that it contravened certain building laws.
“For instance, there is supposed to be a setback of about 40 metres or thereabouts, but that was not taken into consideration in the sense that the building itself is right on the setback. And it is not as if the entire building was demolished as it is just part of the fence.”
Responding to a question on whether the radio station was perceived to be running programmes that have been anti-government, Tunji explained that, “The reason the government had to take that decision was because of series of accident that have been happening there. Ayefele himself, lost a staff of his in that area.
“So, it is not about sentiment. It is people that are in charge of building planning that are in charge of this thing.
“The governor doesn’t have to be focusing on an individual. He is a governor of a state and he has to do the right thing for the entire citizens of the state.
“It is only when issues like this happen that he would all questions and they would explain certain things to him. But the fact is that the man contravened certain certain laws of the state as it relates to building.
“Also, there have been series of letters from government to the organisation since last year, and some of the letters have been ignored, no response. I have copies of those letters here.
READ ALSO: Sarakiism as political metaphor
“One of his staff, Bamiduro Aderonke, received one of the letters on June 13, 2017 and there was no response. Another letter was written and another staff of the organisation, Adebisi Akinkunmi, received the letter on August 21, 2017 and he didn’t respond to it.
“But we should not play on sentiments. If we want to have a developed country, we should not be talking about sentiments. We should not be sentimental about certain things.
“You cannot be above the law. You cannot say because you have a media organisation, you are above the law. I am a media person and I will not support anything that will affect any media organisation. But the fact is that the law has been breached and something had to be done.
“If he had responded to the letters sent to him because they wanted him to respond do that there could be an adjustment, which he could have taken care by himself, before the government took action. But there was no response, and government has to save lives of people, and that was why the government took the action.
“It is not as if we see them as being unfriendly to us anyway. No. The governor wax there at a time. I have taken some people to the station. So, we are only interested in protecting lives of the people, not that we have anything against him, or against the radio station.
“The idea of saying the station is anti-government doesn’t arise here. That is not the focus. The focus is that was the law breached? If has been agreed that the law was breached, and the law has to take its course.
“If he had taken steps that are necessary to correct these things, I don’t think this would have happened.”
The governor’s aide also answered questions on why the government did not wait for the outcome of the court ruling on the matter before effecting the partial demolition.
According to him, “The problem is that people just give our information without checking the fact. If someone files a case in court, has the court sat on it? Has there been any ruling?
“There is nothing like that to the best of my knowledge. I know that if has been said that he went to court, and they are serving notices published, but court has not sat on the matter.
“I speak for the governor and I am speaking with you (journalists) because you people hijacked me, I wouldn’t have even responded. But tomorrow (today), there will be something more comprehensive for you.”