Citing contravention of planning permit regulations, the Lagos State Government has filed a six-count criminal charge against the Managing Director of Lekki Gardens Estate Limited, Mr. Richard Nyong over the collapse of a five-storey building on Kushenla Road in Ikate Elegushi in Lagos State, which killed at least 35 persons.
The state government also charged eight other persons comprising contractors and promoters of Lekki Gardens for allegedly failing to obtain a planning permit in contravention of the State Physical Planning, Urban and Regional Development Act.
Other than the managing director of Lekki Gardens Estate Limited, the other accused are GT Rich Ltd, HC Insight Solutions Ltd, Taiwo Odofin, Omolabake Mortune, Maruis Agwu, Sola Olumofe and Omotilewa Joseph.
The Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem said monday that the charges were filed on February 17 but were yet to be assigned to a judge for arraignment.
The attorney general said the defendants “are facing a six-count charge for failing to obtain building approval for the collapsed building”, which he said claimed no fewer than 35 lives.
He noted that failure to obtain building approval and the ensuing manslaughter contravened “Section 75 of the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law of Lagos State, as well as Section 224 of Criminal Law of Lagos State”.
After the collapse of the building, the state governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode had visited the scene of the incident where he expressed a strong commitment to the protection of lives and property of all citizens in the state.
The governor had specifically vowed to get justice for the victims of the collapsed building, while assuring residents of the state that no stone would be left unturned to ensure that cases of criminal negligence and other forms of criminal activities are prosecuted.
Ambode also directed the Directors of Messrs Lekki Worldwide Estate Limited to report to the Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, within 24 hours or face arrest.
About three days after the building collapsed, the managing director and one of the contractors handling the project were arrested and subsequently released on the order of a magistrate’s court.
After the suspects were released, the state government directed the state Police Command and Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) to conduct fresh investigations to ascertain what led to the building collapse.
In a statement he issued recently, the attorney general said the state government had concluded its legal advice and was ready to prosecute nine suspects deemed culpable in the collapse of the building.
“With the conclusion of the investigation by the Nigeria Police Force and technical reports of relevant experts,” Kazeem said his office “has concluded its legal advice and decided to prosecute the suspects”.