COUNSEL to the Oyo State government, Chief Yomi Alliyu (SAN), in the suit filed by the proprietor of Fresh F.M radio station, Dr Yinka Ayefele, on Monday, told Justice I.S Yerima that the government was not responsible for the building.
Alliyu, who led a team of lawyers to the court in defence of government and the Attorney General of the state, said Governor Abiola Ajimobi and the Commissioner for Justice, Abimbola Oluwaseun would always respect the rule and constituted authorities.
There was a heavy deployment of police personnel in and around the court premises, as all who drove into the premises where an Armoured Personnel Carrier was stationed were stopped and searched by the policemen.
Drama and heated arguments characterized the court session as Ajimobi’s lawyer told the court that he was appearing in a protest because the governor and the Attorney General were not personally.
He argued that service of hearing notice and other court processes would be deemed properly effected on the governor through either the Head of Service or the Chief of Staff to the governor not a clerk in the governor’s office.
The SAN also said the Ministries of Environment and Habitat, as well as Physical Planning and Urban Development which were joined as defendants were non-existent as they law establishing them, was repealed in 2015.
But Justice Yerima told the governor’s lawyer that he should not expect the bailiff the ask to see the governor to affect the service, showing the SAN the acknowledged proof of service in her custody stamped at the governor’s office and in the ministries.
Alliyu, upon verifying the proof of service, called for an investigation of those who signed and stamped for the ministries, saying dead people must have done the signing and stamping as the ministries are not known to the state government.
Chief Bolanle Olayinka, who is the lead counsel to Ayefele, expressed dismay that despite the pendency of the matter the state government went ahead to carry out the threat contained in the three days notice served on the property by demolishing it in the wee hours of Sunday.
He, therefore, prayed the court for an order directing maintenance of status quo as contained in a further affidavit filed on Monday so that the state government would not return to the property to continue what it started on Sunday.
The request was countered by Alliyu SAN, who argued that Ayefele’s case was not properly brought to court, adding that he would also need time to file responses to all the processes served by the claimants’ counsel.
The following exchanges took place thereafter:
Justice Yerima to Ajimobi’s lawyer: I can’t say I am not aware of the demolition and the further affidavit filed by the claimants. But would you say the notice (of hearing) was not brought to the attention of the defendants after the effect of service?
Ajimobi’s lawyer: If your Lordship is aware [of the demolition], we are not aware.
Judge: I mean the threat is already carried out.
Ajimobi’s lawyer: My Lord, you said you are aware of the demolition and that is what baffles me.
Judge: I am an arbiter. I am being careful. I have not said I am acting on it. There is no way I can block you. I have only asked you for your reaction. But I can’t close my eyes to the fact that a further affidavit [which contains the request for status quo maintenance] was filed.
Something has been done and he (Ayefele’s lawyer) has expressed the fear that it [the demolition] may be completed.
Ajimobi’s lawyer: If it is done, it is done. There is nothing like half done.
Judge: I said the threat has been carried out. I didn’t say whether it has been completed or not.
Ajimobi’s lawyer: If it has been done, it is the worst thing that can happen to anybody. We don’t know who did it. The first and second defendants [Ajimobi and Attorney General] are not aware of it. They were not parties to the demolition. My Lord, the question is: Who did it? I was briefed this morning. They said they didn’t know who did it. They were even thinking of setting up a panel [of inquiry] on it. I will abide by the ruling of the court that the threat has been carried out. I am not Jesus Christ. I can’t wake up a dead body. It is sad. I sympathise with them.
Judge [gives a short ruling]: The matter is at a crossroads. The threat is already carried out and the res [the property] has been destroyed. The counsel should address the court.
After both counsels addressed the court and agreement reached on the need to adjourn, Ayefele’s lawyer insisted that a commitment is extracted from Ajimobi’s lawyer that no further demolition would be done to the building, a request to which the SAN tacitly agreed.
The matter was consequently adjourned to September 13 for the hearing of all pending applications and issues to be determined.
Speaking with newsmen after the court, Chief Olayinka, who is Ayefele’s counsel, dismissed as ridiculous, the claim by Ajimobi’s lawyer the governor knew nothing about the demolition.
“He came with the excuse that he is just been briefed and at a point, he said the state government was not aware of the demolition and that the government was even trying to set up a panel of enquiry. That is ridiculous.