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Tuesday 23rd April 2019,
Hope for Nigeria

Trader accuses LASG officials of extortion during demolition of distressed building

Lagos collapsed building

A trader, Mr Onyekwere Nnaji, has accused officials of the Lagos State Government of being responsible for the collapse of another building on those responsible for its demolition at No. 57 Egerton Street, Oke Arin, Lagos Island, on Monday.

Nnaji, who said he had goods worth N6m under the rubble, alleged that the government officials brought men to demolish the building out of anger over his refusal to part with the N100,000 bribe they demanded from him to avail him more time to move his goods out of the building.

He said, “I offloaded some goods worth N6m on Thursday. On Saturday, some people claiming to be from a government agency came to mark the building for demolition. Three buildings were marked, two of which housed my goods.

“When I saw the notice, I had to come on Sunday to start moving my goods away from the first building, because I learnt that they had started the demolition. In the process of moving the goods, the officials said if I could offer them money, they would give me time to pack my goods.

“They requested N100,000 and I offered to pay N30,000, but they insisted that they would only collect N100,000. They removed the roof, windows and doors of the building, with a notice that they would start the demolition proper today (Monday).

“I was able to move my goods completely from the first building and I started moving the goods from the second building. When the officials saw me and my people packing the goods, they left the building they were demolishing and they started hitting the pillars of the second building. That was what led to the collapse; the building did not come down on its own. I don’t know what to do, I am so frustrated”

It was learnt that four labourers, who were carrying out the demolition of the building on behalf of LASBCA, were trapped underneath the rubble.

When PUNCH Metro visited the site, it was learnt that the four had been rescued and rushed to the Lagos Island General Hospital.

A resident, Fatai Ramon, said Lagos State Building Control Agency officials had visited the area on Sunday to mark some buildings for demolition.

When PUNCH Metro visited the accident and emergency unit of the Lagos Island General Hospital, the officials on duty refused to grant our correspondent access to the victims.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Bala Elkana, said no death was recorded in the latest incident.

“Four persons were rescued and no death was recorded. The victims were taken to the Lagos Island General Hospital for adequate care,” Elkana said.

However, LASBCA denied reports of another building collapse on the Lagos Island.

A statement signed by the agency’s Public Relations Officers, Mr Gbadeyan Abdulraheem and Mrs Titi Ajirotutu, quoted the General Manager, Mr Lekan Shodeinde, as saying that the said building on Egerton Street, Oke-Arin, Lagos Island, was distressed and undergoing demolition.

“The building in question is within a built-up area flanked by other adjoining structures at the rear,” Shodeinde said.

He added that the state government planned to remove all distressed and illegal structures prone to collapse as well as those that were not in conformity with the state building laws.

“Lagosians should cooperate with the state government by moving out of all buildings marked as distressed and also stay away from demolition sites. Only LASBCA has the responsibility and professional expertise to determine whether a building is distressed or prone to collapse,” he said.

Ajirotutu, however, stated in a telephone conversation with one of our correspondents that the accusation by Nnaji was unfounded as no official would demand money from him or anyone else.

“Under this circumstance, no official of government will be stupid enough to demand anything. The governor and the whole world are interested in the trend of events. The press is also with us. So, it is completely unfounded to claim that officials of government asked for money,” she stated.

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