Management of Lekki Gardens has revealed that those killed in the ill-fated collapsed building of March 8 were not their employees, adding that the building was duly approved by the Lagos State government.
Speaking on behalf of Mr. Richard Nyong, MD, Lekki Gardens, Juliet Obiorah of Jasmine Communications, said, “Fresh facts have emerged on the Lekki Gardens issue. We found out that there were some stories that were not true. For example, we did not know the people that were killed; they were Beninoise. They are not in any way related to us by form of work; we didn’t contract them, we didn’t give them any direct labour, we didn’t give them any job directly or indirectly. We have never seen them before.”
Narrating how they came to be in the ill-fated building, she said, “What happened on March 8 was unfortunate. It was a critical day. It was windy. Naturally, on the construction site, we have uncompleted buildings. We barricaded and fenced a major part of the building to disallow people from coming in but there was a place at the back that was left open, just a small opening and I’m sure that’s where they came in through.
“After the incident, we did our investigations and learnt that most of them used there as shelter overnight. On that particular day, it was windy, many of them ran into the place and that was how what happened, happened. I am trying to clear the air that the people that died were no labourers of Lekki Gardens.”
Elaborating further on the unfortunate convergence that led to the untimely deaths, she said the construction site is close to a shanty town where people rent for as much as N2, 500 by people of all nationalities especially the Igbos and Hausas. It was people from that community that helped in identifying the dead when the incident occurred at about 3.30a.m.
“The Hausa and Igbo men were those helping us to identify the dead bodies because they were not known to us. That day, it happened about 3.30 am. We also have an office for the security, who were contracted by Lekki Gardens proper. They were on the other side where they already have completed Lekki Gardens’ houses. They were doing their normal job when they heard the noise and they rushed there. They had their own place where they sleep. That uncompleted building is a no go area for them. When they saw what happened, they called our Human Resource man, Mr. Akin Ojo, and they were instructed to look for extra barricade and barricaded whatever was left open and get equipment to excavate the debris that we got from our dredging site. We have all that as well. Immediately, they set to work. Probably like 10 minutes later, we heard some people shouting under the debris, ‘I’m alive, I’m here.’ Lives were saved. Some people escaped. Some were badly injured, immediately they were sent to the general hospital and they were treated. The survivors were 13. Since then, till tomorrow we have been giving them financial support, feeding them, picking their medical bills as Mr. Richard insisted. Every three days, someone checks up on them and we also call them every day.”
Explaining why the building collapsed, she said, “The floors were meant to be given by the Lagos State government of which they were given by a certain unit called material testing. When they were building and raised to the fourth floor, the people in charge of the material testing came there, we have documents to show for that. Whenever they come, they come unexpectedly and pick anything in sight if it is worthy of use. They also checked the buildings. When they checked the building, they discovered that that particular building site could accommodate six floors but we decided to stick to our five floors standard.
“However, there is a dredging site next to the site, maybe it was the sound, vibration from the dredging site that shook the building or an act of God, but one thing I want to make clear is that we didn’t use sub-standard materials because if you don’t pass the laws of material testing, you won’t build. That is the first time of all the sites we have built, over 6,000 sites and something like that will happen. We get our cements from Lafarge and Dangote. If we are going to build a house that needs clay, we get it from clay industries on Oregun Road, Ikeja. Our rods are British standard compliant (BS8110), we use Top Water in Ajah, so we really don’t know why they say our materials are sub-standard. Most of the things we use are imported. In the last four years, nobody has complained. At the moment, the dead bodies are with the state government, however, we have contacted the Benonoise, we went to their king and his response was, ‘God gives God takes.’”
At Lekki Gradens we stop all works by 4p.m and by 6p.m everybody is meant to vacate the site. That was the law Mr. Nyong gave. So no worker was working at that time of the night when the building collapsed.”