Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, (SERAP) has sent an open letter to Senator Abiola Ajimobi, Governor, Oyo State requesting him to “immediately halt all further eviction and demolition of Fresh FM building and to show full respect for the safety and dignity of residents and owner of Fresh FM”.
SERAP said “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.”
The organization urged Ajimobi to “ensure full and effective respect for the rights to freedom of expression and media freedom in Oyo State.
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.”
In the letter 21 August 2018 and signed by SERAP deputy director Timothy Adewale the organization said, “We have information to suggest that the destruction of Fresh FM was based on political considerations and retaliation against the radio station on purported allegations of defamation against you.
“The facts suggest that the demolition of Fresh FM building failed to comply with the principle of lawfulness and reasonableness. The demolition was neither done in the public interest nor carried out to achieve a legitimate aim.”
The organization said, “This apparently unlawful action has set a bad precedent, and created a high level of uncertainty and anxiety among many radio stations and other media organizations 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’.”
The letter read in part: “By going ahead to demolish the Fresh FM building despite being served with the court papers in the case filed by the station, you implicitly obstructed access of the radio station and their owners to appropriate forms of legal protection,
contrary to the provisions of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to which Nigeria is a state party and which is legally binding on the government of Oyo State.
“SERAP is seriously concerned that the Oyo State authorities carried out the demolition of Fresh FM building with wilful disregard for the dignity, health, and safety of residents and the owner, who is a person with disabilities.
The demolition of the radio station has now exposed residents to the elements and the public to the risk of complete collapse of the building.”