Ikoyi building collapse: Osibona threatened LASBCA officials with his dogs, witness tells court
The Lagos State Building Control Authority on Friday revealed before an Ikeja Coroner’s Court that late Mr Femi Osibona, Managing Director of Fourscore Heights Limited, prevented its officers from gaining access to the construction site of the collapsed 21-storey building.
A LASBCA Assistant Director in charge of the Inspectorate of Quality Control, Mrs Oluseun Randle, testified before the court on Friday.
Randle stated that she was the officer overseeing Eti-Osa, Victoria, Island, Surulere, Yaba, Lagos Mainland and Ikoyi, the area where the collapse the 21-storey building was located.
The witness noted that one of the duties of LABSCA was identification and possible removal of non-conforming structures in Lagos.
She made the revelation while being cross-examined by Mr Ola Adeosun, the counsel to Prowess Engineering Nigeria Ltd., the structural engineering consultant to Osibona who withdrew its services over a dispute on how the project was structurally executed.
The witness said to the best of her knowledge, LASBCA had visited the site of the building collapse to check the level of compliance on three occasions.
“An officer first visited on Feb. 13, 2019, he peered through a small opening in the gate and observed piling equipment.
“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 Feb. 13, 2019 on the structure. The notice and order is to be complied with within 48-hours,” she said.
The witness said the LASBCA officer returned to the site a second time on February 21, 2019 and pasted ‘Seal Up’ Notice on the fence and left.
On the second visit, she said the monitoring officer did not observe any construction work on the site except for the locked gate.
Randle said sometime in June 2019, LASBCA received a notification from a sister agency, the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA), over a permit given to Fourscore Heights Ltd.
“The approval drawing was for three blocks of 15-floors. With that (the permit) LASBCA had a reprieve over the matter,” she said.
The LASBCA Assistant Director noted that for the rest of 2019, officers of the agency did not observe any construction work at the site except for the locked gate.
She said she did not know if it was possible for an individual to forge a LASBCA approval document. She also could not recall if a developer had ever forged LASBCA documents.
Questioning Randle further, Adeosun said “As at February 2020, two 15-storey structures were already standing on the site before the Covid-19 lockdown.
“The construction of the third building which was the one that collapsed was already at the third floor stage. Would you be surprised?”
Responding, she said “I will be surprised.”