Governor Adebayo Alao-Akala of Oyo State has demanded the court to eject journalists from the Nigeria Union of Journalists, NUJ, secretariat situated at Iyaganku Area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital.
In a suit filed at Rent Tribunal, Zone 1, with number 737/0 and signed by the Deputy Director, Public Prosecution, Ministry of Justice, Secretariat, Ibadan, Mr. L. A. Ganiyu, the government specifically asked the court to recover for it Quarters 699 situated at THE NUJ secretariat.
The building also houses International Institute of Journalism, Ibadan branch.
Akala claimed, according to an affidavit deposed to by Mrs. Funmilayo Akinseye of Ministry of Justice, Oyo State that though the quarters was initially allocated to NUJ but on 13 May 2004, NUJ voluntarily handed over the aforesaid quarters to the government vide a letter dated same.
According to the affidavit, “Sequel to the vacation of Quarters 669, the quarters was allocated to the Association of Local Governments of Nigeria, Oyo Chapter on November 1st 2004. When the local government association was trying to renovate it, NUJ took it over.
Due to the resolution of the state government to sell her quarters in various parts of the state, the government put machinery to dispose it off and eventually get somebody to buy it.
“That quarters in question was bidded for by interested members of the public which was won by the highest bidder who has fully paid for same but unable to take possession of the quarters due to an unlawful and uncooperative attitude of the respondent.”
However, the counsel to NUJ, Mr. Steve Ajibola James, urged the court to strike out the case because the applicant was not serious, stressing that if the applicant is serious he ought to be in court or send someone to represent him.
Steve told the court that the issue before the rent court is not rent matter rather ownership matter, insisting that the property rightly belongs to journalists.
Meanwhile, the panel led by Mr. Bolarinwa Lawal advised that the applicant be given an opportunity to be heard, adding that since it was the first time the case was coming up, a date for hearing should be picked.
There were controversies over the adjourned date but the court eventually adjourned the sitting till 22 November 2010.
Sources close to the governor said that he wants to seize the property to cow the press in the state because they have been reporting only negative news about him and his government.