The Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) says its officials were unaware that construction continued on the 21-story building which collapsed in Ikoyi despite a stop-work order.
The high-rise collapsed in the Ikoyi area of Lagos state in November 2021, with over 40 bodies recovered, including that of Femi Osibona, owner of Fourscore Homes, the developing company in charge of the building.
Speaking before a coroner’s court on Friday, Oluseun Randle, an assistant director in charge of the inspectorate of quality control of LASBCA, identified herself as the officer overseeing Eti-Osa, Victoria, Island, Surulere, Yaba, Lagos Mainland, and Ikoyi.
Randle said Osibona prevented LASBCA officials from gaining access to the construction site of the collapsed 21-story building.
She said to the best of her knowledge, LASBCA had visited the site of the building prior to the collapse incident to check the level of compliance on three occasions.
“An officer first visited on February 13, 2019. He peered through a small opening in the gate and observed piling equipment,” she said.
“He moved closer to observe the piling operation and to gain access to the premises. The security operatives manning the premises did not allow him entry.
He was only asked to wait outside of the gate for the developer (Osibona). After some minutes, the developer came and the officer told him he wanted to serve a notice.
He (Osibona) told him that he could not go in and if tried to forcefully gain entry, he would tell the security to release dogs.
The monitoring officer served a contravention notice and stop-work order dated February 13, 2019 on the structure. The notice and order were to be complied with within 48 hours.”
The witness said the LASBCA official returned to the site for the second time on February 21, 2019 and pasted a ‘seal off notice’ on the fence and left.
Randle said sometime in June 2019, LASBCA received a notification from the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA), a sister agency, over a permit given to Fourscore Homes.
“The approval drawing was for three blocks of 15 floors. With that (the permit), LASBCA had a reprieve over the matter,” she said.
She also said did not know if it was possible for an individual to forge a LASBCA approval document, adding that for the rest of 2019, the agency did not observe any construction work at the site except for the locked gate.
Speaking further, she said on June 10, 2020, Osibona, his wife, and his workers were arrested for contravening certification and planning laws.
“They were arrested by a joint enforcement team of LASBCA and LASPPPA. The security men at the gate put up an attitude by resisting the team’s access to the property,” she said.
“He was found to be in contravention of the law.”
Randle said Osibona had continued construction on the property until it collapsed, adding that the agency was unaware that he had returned to the construction site after his arrest.
“The agency was not aware that he went back to the site. It was the report of the collapse of the 21-storey structure that gave us insight on the height and type of the structure at the time,” NAN quoted her as saying.
“The monitoring officers were not going to the site because of the COVID-19 lockdown. Then, #EndSARS occurred.
All our monitoring officers fell under the category of those asked to stay at home.”