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‘Collapsed Lekki five-storey building has no approval’

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MD, Lekki Gardens Estate, Mr. Richard Nyong (right), with his lawyer after his arraignment yesterday.

A prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of the Managing Director of Lekki Gardens Estate Ltd, Richard Nyong, has told a Lagos High Court in Igbosere ‎that the five-storey building that collapsed on March 8, 2016, and left 30 people dead, has no building approval.

Nyong is standing trial alongside Lekki Gardens Estate Limited, Get Too Rich Investment Limited known as Horizon 1 Extension, House H15, Mr. Sola Olumofe, the firm’s contractor, Odofin Henry Taiwo, Omolabake Mortune, Omotilewa Oluwatosin Joseph, Lekki Gardens, and HC Insight Solution Limited.

According to the prosecution witness, who is an architect, Maruis Agwu, and led in evidence by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ms. Titilayo Shitta-Bey, told the court that the initial plan of the building, known as Horizon, located at Elegushi area of Lekki, was a three-storey building.

He said it was Nyong who later told him of his intention to increase the building from three storey to five floors because of the high demand of subscribers.”

They were arraigned on a six-count charge bordering on failure to obtain building approval for the collapsed building and involuntary manslaughter, the offences contrary to and punishable under Section 75 (1) of the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law of Lagos State 2010, and Section 229 of Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 respectively.

The prosecution witness also testified before Justice Sybil Nwaka that he knew the MD in 2011 and when he discovered the defect on the collapsed building, which was brought to their notice by Madam Omolabake Mortune, he drew the Lekki Gardens MD’s attention to the building and he said he was going to do something about it but he never did.

He said: “I designed Lekki Gardens Phase 1 project in Ajah, it is a development of four to three bedroom flats, it is a mixed development and service plot which is residential. I also introduced one Lanre Olanrewaju of Geostruct Consult Ltd, a piling expert at Osborne Ikoyi, in 2013, to the first defendant, which did 38-point of the pilling of the collapsed building.”

While being cross-examined by the counsel to the first, sixth and seventh defendants, Wole Olanipekun (SAN), the witness admitted that he was not a registered architect, he also said that he did not sign and seal the design of the collapsed building, but that the company did not direct him to.

Agwu also admitted to have been a sixth defendant between May 24 and June 14, 2017, when they were first brought to court and that the piling of the collapsed building was their first experience. He denied any integrity test and soiling was conducted. But when asked if he could remember the statement he made to the police on May 16, 2016, where he said the company that handled the piling, conducted integrity and soiling test, he said, he could no longer remember.

However, Olanipekun tendered the statement he made before the police in court and was admitted as exhibit A, which reads: “The company that handled the piling, conducted integrity test and soiling test.”

Also present is activist lawyer, Ebun-Olu Adegboruwa, for the second defendant. Justice Nwaka adjourned the case till December 14, for continuation of cross-examination.



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