The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP), has given the Oyo State Government an ultimatum of seven days to begin repairs on Fresh FM’s building which was demolished on Sunday or face legal action.
SERAP in an open letter to the state government asked it to “immediately halt all further eviction and demolition of the Fresh FM building and to show full respect for the safety and dignity of residents and the owner of Fresh FM”.
The letter was dated August 21, 2018, and signed by SERAP’s Deputy Director, Timothy Adewale.
“We also urge you to immediately begin repairs of the Fresh FM building and to adequately compensate the radio station and its owner and publicly guarantee non-repetition,” SERAP added.
The group called on the Oyo State Governor, Abiola Ajimobi, to ensure full and effective respect for the rights to freedom of expression and media freedom in the state.
It said, “We request that you take this step within 7 days of the receipt and/or publication of this letter, failing which SERAP will take national and international legal actions to compel your government to act in the public interest and the overall interest of the rule of law.”
SERAP’s statement comes a day after the state government insisted that the demolition of the building followed due process.
The Special Adviser to the governor on Physical Planning and Development Control, Waheed Gbadamosi, said the building contravened the planning laws of the state, and the owner was duly informed through various means.
Although the state government rejected claims that politics led to the demolition, SERAP insists that it had information that suggests that the action was based on “political considerations”.
“The demolition was neither done in the public interest nor carried out to achieve a legitimate aim,” it said.
It added that the demolition had “created a high level of uncertainty and anxiety among many radio stations and other media organisations in Oyo State about the future because of the likelihood of their buildings being demolished when they are deemed to broadcast views which the Oyo State authorities may consider too critical or ‘defamatory’”.