The Lagos State government has announced that it will carry out criminal prosecution of Fourscore Homes Limited, the firm developing the 21-storey building that collapsed on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, on November 1, 202, over the loss of lives that occurred during the tragedy.
The state government also revealed that the 2 other structures that were simultaneously constructed within the same axis of the collapsed building are to be brought down through a controlled demolition because they failed structural integrity tests.
According to media reports, this is contained in a White Paper prepared by the Lagos State Government on the report of the panel set up to probe the circumstances surrounding the building collapse.
The state government in the White Paper also recommended that all government officials that were found wanting in granting approval to the developer in 2019, will face administrative disciplinary panel.
It also in the White Paper, accepted 26 out of the 28 recommendations made by the investigative panel, who during the probe, visited the project site for a general assessment; coordinated activities of the consultants who conducted tests on the site, reviewed documents from relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), interrogated 91 persons; collected 21 memoranda and accessed the remaining buildings being developed by the late Osibona.
The Chairman of the probe panel on the building collapse, Mr Toyin Ayinde, blamed the collapse on the erosion of professional ethics and disregard for due diligence.
The panel that wrote the White Paper on the investigate report had the following members Lagos State Commissioner for Special Duties Tayo Bamgbose-Martins (Chairman), the Head of Service (HoS), Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice Moyosore Onigbanjo, and Agriculture Commissioner Mrs. Abisola Olusanya.
Highlights of the White Paper Report
The review panel in its report accepted 26 recommendations which bothered on individuals and institutions – both private and public and rejected 2 recommendations for being nebulous.
The government accepted the recommendation that Fourscore Heights Limited, owners of the collapsed building, be prosecuted in view of the loss of lives involved in the tragedy.
The white paper frowned at a situation in which Fourscore was builder and architect – all rolled into one. For this, the tribunal concluded that Fourscore Heights did not do the right thing and their negligence led to the loss of lives.
The state government has since directed the Office of the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice to institute appropriate charges against the company.
For failing structural tests, the two 15-storey buildings have also been approved for demolition through controlled demolition technique, having been recommended for such by the tribunal and accepted to by the state government.
Recommended the evacuation of all occupants within a 45m radius from the extreme boundaries of the blocks in the interest of public safety.
It recommended that the developer, having been negligent, is to forfeit the project site to the state government, in accordance with section 25(4) of the revised LABSCA regulation 2019.
All the various participants, including civil/public servants, found culpable are to face disciplinary actions and prosecution, where applicable.
“This included all those that were involved in the 2019 approval of the collapsed building. The civil servants are to first face the personnel management board, in line with the public service rules. The disciplinary process is to be set up immediately and concluded within 14 days.
“Apart from civil servants, some professionals have also been referred to the professional bodies for disciplinary actions. The list here included engineers, town planners, and architects; while some companies have also been referred to the Architects Registration Council of Nigeria for disciplinary actions for their roles in the collapsed building. Besides this, some indicted companies such as the urban primer have also been blacklisted for the roles they played in the tragedy.”
According to the report, the three town planners were said to have authored a report using a consultancy firm’s name and claiming it was the firm that signed the papers for the collapsed building – all done without the knowledge of the firm’s owners. The three civil servants are to be prosecuted for preparing a consultant’s report through a dubious method.
However, one Oluwole Oludimu of Prowess Engineering Limited was highly commended for exhibiting the highest professionalism in challenging circumstances and standing firm despite intimidation by the developer and subsequent removal from the site by his firm.
The government also accepted the recommendation that an audit exercise by an independent consortium of professionals to scrutinise all high-rise buildings in the state.
What you should know
- Recall that in the aftermath of the Ikoyi building collapse tragedy in which about 45 people were killed including the developer, Femi Osibona, and 9 people rescued, a visibly angry Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, admitted that mistakes were made from all angles and promised that sanctions will be meted out.
- The governor immediately after the tragic incident, set up an independent panel to probe the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the building. The panel which is not part of the internal probe that was conducted by the state government, was mandated to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the incident and make recommendations on how to prevent future occurrences.
- The Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), had during a coroner’s inquest on the circumstances that led to the collapse of the 21-storey building said that the construction of the 3 high-rise buildings at Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos commenced before provisional approval was granted.