• Tuesday, June 25, 2024
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Ikoyi collapsed building: Lagos to prosecute Fourscore Homes

Ikoyi collapsed building: Lagos to prosecute Fourscore Homes

Fourscore Homes Ltd – the firm developing the 21-storey building that collapsed on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, on November 1, 2021— will face criminal prosecution.

This is part of the White Paper on the incident in which about 50 people lost their lives.

The remaining two structures being simultaneously constructed in the vicinity are to be demolished because they failed structural integrity tests.

The promoter of the firm, Femi Osibona died when the building came down on the fateful day.

Also recommended to face administrative disciplinary panel are all government officials involved in granting approval to the developer in 2019.

The White Paper was prepared by the Lagos State government on the report submitted to it by the panel that probed the building collapse.

According to the White Paper, the remaining high-rise buildings will be pulled down through controlled demolition.

Twenty-six out of the 28 recommendations contained in the Report were accepted by the government.

Submitting the report on January 5, the panel chairman, Toyin Ayinde, a town planner, blamed the collapse on the erosion of professional ethics and disregard for due diligence.

In the course of their investigations, the panel members visited the project site for a general assessment; coordinated activities of the consultants who conducted tests on the site and reviewed documents from relevant ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs)

They also conducted interviews; interrogated 91 persons; collected 21 memoranda and accessed the remaining buildings being developed by the late Osibona.

The tribunal, which was given nine terms of reference, also hosted a representation of the developer’s company comprising two legal firms.

A new committee, which reviewed the tribunal’s 28 recommendations, was chaired by the state commissioner for special duties Tayo Bamgbose-Martins.

Hakeem Muri-Okunola, head of service, Moyosore Onigbanjo, commissioner for justice, Abisola Olusanya, commissioner for agriculture, served as members.

They accepted 26 recommendations that bothered on individuals and institutions – both private and public.

The review panel rejected two 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, negligence that 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 by the state government.

The White Paper also recommended the “evacuation of all occupants within a 45m radius from the extreme boundaries of the blocks in the interest of public safety.”

The White Paper states: “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.”

The document chided three town planners (civil servants) who were said to have lied on oath.

Read also: Emefiele wants manufacturers to reduce price of building materials

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.

Also accepted was the recommendation that there should be training for all officials involved in the building approval section, with more hands recruited to assist agencies that are short-staffed.