© 2019 - International Centre for Investigative Reporting
Ajimobi lied, residents say. No petitions were sent to demolish Ayefele’s Music House
FOLLOWING widespread condemnation of his government’s partial demolition of Yinka Ayefele’s Music House and popular radio station, Oyo State Governor Abiola Ajimobi explained that the decision was not solely his to make.
According to him, it was a collective decision of the state executive council, reached the following series of petitions from residents of the area where the structure is located.
Tribune, a foremost newspaper with headquarters in Ibadan, reported that Ajimobi said this at a Thursday meeting with Ayefele and traditional rulers at the Agodi Government House.
“[He] stressed that the partial demolition move,” the paper reported, “asides the eventual contravention of approved building plan, was occasioned by the petition by the Lagelu estate residents association who claimed that the building had become a serious traffic impediment, causing grave motor accidents, after which the various inspections and notices sent in ample time.”
The ICIR, however, paid visits to the said estate and confirmed there’s little truth to the governor’s statements.
It is not possible, residents reply
Residents of Lagelu estate where Ayefele’s Music House is located told The ICIR it is inconceivable the association of landlords would move against the famous gospel artiste. This, they say, is especially because of the estate benefits enormously from him and is pleased with his activities.
A trader, who prefers not to be identified because she is popular in the community and doesn’t “want trouble”, confirmed that there is an association of landlords in the estate. She also said she does not think they would have written any petition to the state government.
Similarly, a petty grocer in the estate, who gave his name simply as Femi, said there is an active association for those in the estate, but he strongly doubts they could have written to the government against the Music House.
“As a matter of fact, on the day it was demolished, our chairman was there,” he narrated. “I even met her there that morning, though I’d got there by past seven. Before I left, it was already 2 pm. I did not attend church service at all that Sunday. She was very surprised and had asked why they did such a thing. The association of landlords has no hand in it at all.”
“That man has done lots for us in this estate,” he continued. “If we have any requests regarding the vigilantes, he is always supportive. During each festival or ceremony, he donates to the estate. Ah! Ayefele. He’s a man.”
“What is the estate’s business?” an elderly woman who stood nearby interjected.
“In fact, they gain huge benefits from Ayefele. The estate can never say that. There has been a feast in the estate in the past and Ayefele contributed one cow. The estate would never say such a person should leave the community.”
“When he buried his father two years, he brought a large cow to the estate for people to a feast,” Femi added. “I am also from Ekiti. In fact, Ayefele’s place is not far from mine. I’m telling you, on the day of the demolition, as soon as I heard of the demolition and tuned in to the station to see that nothing was aired, I rushed to the station. All those who hail from Ekiti met there.”
Investigation still ongoing says the chairman
When The ICIR paid the Chairman of the Landlords’ Association a visit on Friday, she was just about leaving hurriedly for a function. She said she had heard claims that the estate wrote a petition and suggested she had no hand in it nor was aware that such took place.
She, however, declined to give a definite answer on whether a petition emerged from the estate because investigations were not yet conclusive.
“I cannot answer that question now please,” she said. “Do you understand? Tomorrow is our meeting. I want to find out. I want to do my investigation, you understand. I can’t say what I don’t know.”
Refusing to give her telephone number, she asked our reporter to return on Monday evening. At the agreed period, however, her property’s gate was locked and knocked severally without luck.
Leke Ajala, the association’s Financial Secretary, however, confirmed to The ICIR in a brief phone interview that no petition was written. “Nobody wrote a petition,” he emphatically said twice, while insisting that the appropriate person to make a statement is the chairman.
Road construction completed two years ago
The ICIR also gathered that the dualisation of the road opposite Ayefele’s Music House was already perfected years before the demolition, and the demolished structure no longer stands in the way.
A middle-aged mechanic, whose workshop is just a few metres away from the Music House, said the project was done in 2016.
Asked if the building is in the way of the road, he replied: “That can’t be since the road is already completed.” He also added, contrary to claims about accidents, that it is not causing the residents any problem whatsoever. According to him, “it is not disturbing anybody”.
When he was told Ajimobi’s explanation about the petition from residents, he immediately denied it. “There is nothing like that. But he who intends to destroy another’s life will always have something to say”.
Sola, who has a kiosk opposite the Music House where he types and photocopies documents, said the construction commenced during Ajimobi’s first tenure as governor but was completed recently.
He told The ICIR: “I’ve had this business here for years. They started constructing roughly four, five years ago, during his first term, and then completed it towards 2016.”
The duo, Ajimobi and Ayefele, have since buried the hatchet and reconciled. They were seen embracing at the 90th anniversary of Saliu Adetunji, the Olubadan of Ibadan, on Sunday. The Oyo State governor, who had earlier said he was only executing the dictates of the law, declared that “the imbroglio … has been resolved” and pledged his government will assist in reconstruction.
It is not known for how long both parties can maintain the newfound amity before a fresh political tussle breaks out.