Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has accused Governor Abiola Ajimobi of Oyo State of “executive rascality”, following the demolition of Yinka Ayefele’s Music House, on Sunday.
According to the organisation, “the unlawful demolition of Fresh FM building owned by Yinka Ayefele, and the forced evictions of residents by the Oyo State government is a grave violation of fundamental human rights and contrary to international law.”
Government bulldozers brought down a section of the building, located at the Challenge area of Ibadan, despite a pending court action.
According to a statement signed by Timothy Adewale, SERAP’s Deputy Director, on Sunday, the demolition is “a gross abuse of powers by the Oyo State Government and Governor Ajimobi against a radio station simply doing their job.”
SERAP described the action as “politically motivated, patently arbitrary and entirely inconsistent with international human rights standards and national laws,” noting that “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.”
Describing the demolition as a “repression of media freedom," the statement also called for an immediate stop to the destruction, and for adequate compensation to be paid to the owner of the building.
The statement read: “The destruction of a radio station on the grounds that the Oyo State Government dislikes their work is a textbook case of repression of media freedom and violation of the right to adequate housing. The authorities must immediately stop the demolition, ensure appropriate repairs of the building and adequate compensation, and guarantee of non-repetition. SERAP will challenge this violent and reckless destruction of Ayefele’s Fresh FM in court.
“The Oyo State government has not only engaged in forced eviction, but also violated the right to adequate housing, the right to freedom of expression and media freedom. It is the obligation of Oyo State government to ensure that Ayefele and everyone affected by this act of illegality is adequately compensated for the property of Fresh FM that has been demolished.
“Nigeria is a state party to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which requires Oyo State government to refrain from arbitrary forced evictions and arbitrary destruction of resources that individuals and families have invested in building their homes.
“Nigeria has also ratified the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which protects individuals from arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, and guarantees everyone the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attack.”
“In its "Resolution on Forced Evictions," the U.N. Commission on Human Rights affirmed that forced evictions constitute a gross violation of human rights. The term "forced eviction" is defined for the purposes of international law as the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land which they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection.
“It is important to note that international standards focus on protecting individuals who occupy homes and land and do not depend on any particular form of ownership title to the land or house, nor on the legality of the occupancy.”