•Asks developer to take responsibility for their relocation
• Akpabio denies he owns estate

Gboyega Akinsanmi
The Lagos State Government has ordered residents in all buildings constructed by Lekki Gardens to vacate their apartments pending the conclusion of the integrity test that would be carried out on the buildings to ascertain their fitness.

The state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, explained that the developer of the estate in which a five-storey semi-constructed building collapsed last week and resulted in the deaths of 34 persons, was in contravention of the state’s approved building development law and therefore should take responsibility for the relocation of the occupants of the buildings that would be evacuated.

Ambode gave the directive yesterday when he visited the site of the collapsed building and others inside Lekki Gardens Estate that were built by the same developer.

During the inspection, the governor ordered the conduct of integrity tests on all buildings already developed by Messrs Lekki Worldwide Estate Limited, the owners of the estate, to ascertain their fitness, adding that the developer should take responsibility for the relocation of occupants of the buildings as government would not wait for another building to come crashing down and kill other people before taking proactive action.

He explained the significance of ordering the structural stability test, noting that his administration is built on safety and the security of lives and properties in all parts of the state.

He said: “The state government will undertake a stability test on all other buildings constructed by the developer in the state, whether occupied or not, to ascertain their structural stability. The developer will pay the cost of the tests. Any building found to be defective would be demolished.

“For those that pass the integrity test, the developer will pay a penalty for any overdevelopment on the site. Further to the above, the state government intends to carry out an audit of all structures in Lagos to ascertain those with or without planning approvals and evaluate the physical developments vis-a-vis the approved building plans.

“The details of this initiative are being finalised and you will be briefed in due course. Let me reiterate that Lagos is open to business for those who must comply with the state’s laws and regulations in order to prosper.

“Our main concern is to continue to improve on the ease of doing business and uphold the rule of law at all times. Those who choose non-compliance and defiance will henceforth face the full weight of the law without fear or favour.”

He also commiserated with the families of persons who lost their lives and others that were injured, noting that the responsibility of any government is “to ensure the safety of lives and property of its citizens and that his government was determined not to fail in that duty”.

He stated that since the tragedy, his administration had taken certain steps by ordering the immediate sealing off of the construction site and cessation of further construction; ensured the coordinated emergency rescue of all injured victims and treatment at its hospitals; and ordered the owners of the collapsed building to submit themselves to the police, which they did.

“In addition, some government officials have been relieved of their duties. I want to assure you that there will be no sacred cows. If there is failure of duty, there will be sanctions,” he warned.

Ambode said the state government had established a five-man committee under the Chairmanship of Dr. Olubunmi Ajayi, a past President of the Nigerian Institute of Town Planners and Association of Professional Bodies of Nigeria to examine the Urban and Regional Planning Law of the state as it affects the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA).

The governor also tasked the committee to examine the operations of LASBCA and make recommendations for changes (if necessary) for effective service delivery.

Meanwhile, the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, yesterday denied that he owns the Lekki estate.

A statement by his media aide, Anietie Ekong, said: “The attention of the Senate Minority Leader, Senator Godswill Akpabio, has been drawn to a malicious twitter flash by Sahara Reporters which claimed that the former Governor of Akwa Ibom State has been linked to the ownership of Lagos Lekki Gardens.

“We want to state categorically that Senator Akpabio is not the owner of Lagos Lekki Gardens nor has he any form of relationship whatsoever with the said company.

“While we condole with the families of those who lost their loved ones in the unfortunate building collapse, we are saddened that Sahara Reporters chose to play politics with such a tragic incident as the death of Nigerians and chose to drag in the name of Senator Akpabio.”