Nyesom Wike, minister of the Federal Capital Territory, has ordered the immediate arrest of the owner of the building that collapsed in Abuja.
On Wednesday night, a two-storey building located at Lagos Street in Garki 2 of Abuja collapsed at about 11: 45 pm leaving dozens of occupants trapped and killed two people.
Wike gave the order when he visited the incident scene on Thursday. While describing the incident as unfortunate, he directed that the hospital bills of those injured be paid off.
“It is not what we contemplated. Let me thank the agencies that have supported us to rescue not less than 32 lives. Unfortunately, we lost two lives.
“I will appeal to the permanent secretary to make sure that funds are raised to pay the hospital bills of those who were rescued, so that we do not lose any more people, and this should be done immediately.
“Secondly, these are the things we have been saying, nobody knows whose turn it will be, therefore when the government says it will take actions in areas we believe there are illegal developments or buildings that don’t comply with the standard codes. It is not as if anybody has any personal vendetta but for me, it is for us to do the right thing,” he said.
The FCT minister also expressed disappointment that it had taken the FCTA a long time to resettle natives of Garki village, saying that they will take immediate action to see that the indigenes of the village are resettled and then the government has to plan out the area.
“When the government says take building plan, it is not to suffer anybody but to make sure that everyone is protected. Cities are planned to forestall this kind of occurrence. Imagine buildings without approval. I will ask that we identify and arrest the owner of this property. It is very important.
“Government will of course take over this area and make sure no further development is carried out here. I want all the stakeholders here to please work with the government in the interest of everybody. No one has come here to say I like A, I do not like B.
“I know sometimes government decisions may not be too comfortable with the people, but in the long run, it is in the interest of the people. Now we are all gathered here and none of us is happy we are here, these are the things we are trying to forestall.
“Again I sympathise with those who lost their lives, government will pick up the bills of all those in the hospital. We will also support the rescue efforts and ensure that they get to the last level and rescue everyone still trapped in the rubble,” he said.
Also speaking, the director of FCTA Development Control, Muktar Galadima said the building is located within the Garki indigenous settlement, and that the building had two suspended floors, one used for commercial activities while the other floors were used as residential accommodation.
He explained that the status of the place is that, it is not a planned area so the development had no planning approval, saying that the area is meant for resettlement from here to Apo resettlement town.
Meanwhile, some residents of the area say they have persistently complained to the landlord and lawyer of the collapsed building concerning its dilapidated state, saying that their complaints however fell on deaf ears.
The visibly angry residents equally blamed relevant government agencies for failing to conduct integrity tests or inspections of the building which is located in the city centre and a highly dense area of Abuja.