LASG Mulls Prosecution of Collapsed Building Owner, Developer

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Gboyega Akinsanmi

The Lagos State Government may prosecute the owner and developer of a three-storey building that collapsed on Massey Street, Ita-Faaji on Thursday to serve as deterrence to others, top government officials yesterday disclosed.

The officials, however, disclosed that the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) would not take any step until the State Criminal Investigation Department (SCID) and other regulatory agencies submitted their report on the incident.

Speaking in confidence with THISDAY yesterday, they confirmed that the state government would prosecute the owner and developer of the collapsed building, though both of them were currently on the run. One of the officials said the decision to prosecute became imperative after the figure of causalities from the collapsed building site increased to 20 and 45 injured including the pupils who were still on admission at Lagos Island General Hospital. He disclosed that the legal team of the state government was ready, though was still awaiting the State Police Command to submit the case file to the DPP for onward prosecution.

According to the state official, we are expecting the police to submit the file case on the case in order to commence prosecution of both the owner and developer.

Despite the resolve of the state government, THISDAY findings revealed that the police had not arrested the owner and the developer, Mr Giwa, who completed the building in 2010 and was expected to handover the building to the owners after 10 years.

However, the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of the State Criminal Intelligence Investigation Department (SCIID), Mrs. Yetunde Longe confirmed that the police had commenced an investigation into the collapsed building.

During her visit to the scene, Longe hinted that her presence was to gathered first-hand information from the residents about the circumstances that led to the incident.

She said the owner of the collapsed building “is on the run while the developer has yet to be identified.”

In a bid to prevent a recurrence of the sad incident, however, the state government has commenced the demolition of other distressed structures in the area that had failed integrity test. Officials of the State Building Control Agency, led by its acting General Manager, Omotayo Fakolujo, commenced demolition after Governor Akinwunmi Ambode ordered the demolition of over 80 buildings earlier marked to be pulled down.

Fakolujo said that the 80 were among 150 distressed buildings that were identified on Lagos Island, but 30 had already been demolished in the last one year, saying, the 80 will be demolished in phases using both manual and mechanical.

He, also, disclosed that 20 of the 80 buildings earmarked for demolition were on Adeniji Adele, saying that the agency would no longer look back but ensure that distressed buildings were pulled down immediately.

Within two days, Fakolujo said the agency has pulled down no fewer than nine buildings that posed threat to lives and property of residents within the community.

The buildings pulled down in the last three days were: 50 Freeman street, 47 Smith street and 28 and 30 Apatira streets.

Also, a three-storey building on 33 Ojo Giwa, which residents claimed could cave in anytime because the pillars and other alignments on the buildings were already giving way.

At 34, Seriki Street, another distressed three-storey building was pulled down by LASBCA officials, while at 21, Okediji Street, a three-storey building was demolished.

“For instance, the building on Smith Street had been in court since 2014; we just got injunction about two weeks ago.”

Aside the 80, Fakolujo disclosed that cases on 20 building were still pending in court, lamenting, this is one of the reasons we have not been quick in pulling down distressed building.

“What we have been trying to avoid over the years was court fines. And after getting injunctions, we still have to give the occupants few days to vacate the building.”

He assured that the agency “will not allow another building to cave in on Lagos Island before been pulled down. For the buildings that are still distressed and still occupied, the occupants will be evicted to avoid another loss of lives.”

On other existing buildings that were yet to be distressed, the general manager said 70 percent probe “will be conducted on them to ascertain their level stability.”

Before the recent collapse building, the acting general manager said no fewer than 10 structures were pulled down about last week in Ajegunle, Ajeromi-Ifelodun local government