The Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) said before a coroner’s inquest into the collapse of the 21-storey building at Gerard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, that construction of the three high-rise blocks began before provisional approval was granted.
The counsel for LASBCA, A.S Odugbemi, made the assertion while questioning Muritala Olawale, the Managing Director of Prowess Engineering Nigeria Ltd.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Olawale was a former consultant structural engineer to the project.
He withdrew his services via a letter dated February 20, 2020, over disputes on how the project was structurally executed.
Mr Odugbemi during proceedings, disputed the contents of paragraph 17 of Mr Olawale’s Statement on Oath to the inquest.
He stated that late Femi Osibona, the Managing Director of Fourscore Heights Ltd., contractor to the project, had informed his team that he had received provisional approval for the project’s construction.
According to Mr Olawale’s Statement on Oath, Mr Osibona showed his team a copy of the provisional approval from the Lagos State government and ordered them to commence construction on the site.
Disputing Mr Olawale’s claims, Mr Odugbemi said LASBCA never granted Mr Osibona a provisional planning permit when the team moved to the site to commence construction in January 2019.
He stated that LASBCA granted provisional approval in April 2019.
“Will you be surprised if evidence is provided to you right now that work had started before the provisional planning approval was granted in April 2019?” Mr Odugbemi asked.
Responding, Mr Olawale said “I will be surprised. All the approval processes were being handled by the client (Osibona).
“I cannot answer the questions right now. I need to check my records.”
Mr Olawale did not give a specific answer to Mr Odugbemi’s query on whether the three high-rise blocks were covered by a general insurance policy as required by law.
He, however, informed the panel that prior to construction, a soil test was conducted at the site by another company contracted to do the job.
“We have submitted the result of the soil test of the site to other panels investigating the collapse,” he said.
NAN reports that of the three high-rise buildings (Blocks A, B and C), situated on Gerard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, Block B (21-storeys) collapsed on November 1, 2021, killing 46 persons while 15 persons were rescued alive.
One of the deceased was Mr Osibona.