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‘We abandoned collapsed Lekki Garden building at foundation stage’

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As controversy deepens on the collapsed Lekki Gardens building, one of the contractors, Messrs Geostruct Consult Limited has exempted itself from the mishap, saying that it abandoned works at the foundation stage over payment dispute.

The firm director, Mr. Kuye Sodiq, disclosed this in his testimony before Justice Sybil Nwaka at the ongoing criminal trial of the Managing Director of Lekki Gardens Estate Ltd, Richard Nyong and eight others.

Nyong, alongside Lekki Gardens Estate Limited, Get Rich Investment Limited known as Horizon 1 Extension House H15, Mr Sola Olumofe; the firm’s contractor, Odofin Henry Taiwo; Omolabake Mortunde, Omotilewa Joseph and HC Insight Solution Limited were arraigned before a Lagos High Court, Ikeja on six-count charge bordering on failure to obtain building approval and involuntary manslaughter.

Their arraignment by the Lagos state government followed the death of over 30 people as a result of the collapse of their building.
They however all pleaded not guilty to the charge.

But Sodiq, told court at the resumed trial that his company left the site due to non-payment of the work done contrary to their agreement.

He was led in evidence by an Assistant Director of the Directorate of Public Prosecution (DPP) Mrs O. A Oluwafemi.

Sodiq, a third prosecution witness in the matter said, he met the architect of the building, Mr Marius Agu , along side his geologist and the rest of the defendants in 2015 at Mr Agu’s office at No. 2 Rosewood Close,  Osbourne , where they were informed of the work for Lekki Gardens.

He stressed that there were supposed to be given a lump sum but only paid N1.7million to work on the foundation of the collapsed building

“My casual workers were at the site reporting to Mr. Iyke, engineer of  Lekki Gardens. If we had finished the work, we would have advised them to carry out a quality control test.

“I was disengaged on April 2015 we left the site. I did not go to back to the site.

“When I heard the news about the collapse of the five-storey building, I called Mr Agu who told me it was H15 that collapsed. When I heard about the building collapse, I was devastated,  I was not happy,” Kuyebi said.

Sodiq was thereafter cross-examined by Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN) and other defendants counsel.

Sodiq said, “ initially I was contracted to make 65 pipes by Agu and I was not given a structural drawing of the collapsed building by the architect. “

Earlier, a town planner, Mr Demola Ojedokun had told the court  he never met Agu,  the architect of the building and he didn’t visit the site during construction.

Further hearing on the matter has been e adjourned till May 17, 2018.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government has been urged to restructure the nation’s mortgage and housing finance system as a way of making homes affordable to Nigerians.
 
The Managing Director, Lekki Gardens, Richard Nyong, made the call while speaking at the company’s Customer Appreciation event held in Lagos to express gratitude to its patrons.
  
Nyong, who reiterated that the country had a massive housing deficit, said that government must make regulations to ease the process of securing housing finance.
  
He noted that when the FG fixes the challenge with mortgage, the private sector would easily respond to the challenge by increasing supply while many Nigerians would also be empowered with the required finance to buy houses.
  
Reflecting on the challenge the company had two years ago when one of its structures collapsed, he said the company had re-appraised its operations and improved greatly since the unfortunate incident.
  
Nyong explained that Lekki Gardens did not excuse itself to say that people were against it. He said that rather it looked into the mirror to see what it did wrong, fix every place where things went wrong and sought to do better.


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