‘Why prosecution of Lekki gardens building collapse suspects may suffer setback’
There are concerns that Lekki Worldwide Estate, owners of the recently collapsed building that killed at least 35 people in Lekki may be cutting corners to escape justice, according to sources within the Lagos State Government.
The company entered the Nigerian market a few years ago with its quick-to-build and relatively affordable Lekki Gardens Signature houses, was yesterday accused of flouting government building controls and regulations, especially in the use of materials of questionable quality and in failing to obtain appropriate State Development Permits.
Lekki World Estate, which currently has 34 active building sites in Ikoyi/Victoria Island and Banana Island as well as in Eti-Osa and Ikeja, is said to have only obtained development permit for two of the 34 sites.
Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode had fired some top officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency on grounds of negligence, an action said to have been prompted by abuse of rules of engagement in property development.
Ambode also set up a committee to investigate the building control and regulatory regime in Lagos State.
Records at the Corporate Affairs Commission reveals that Akwa Ibom State-born Mr. Richard Nyong, the embattled chief executive, owns the Lekki Worldwide Estate. Sources, however alleged that the company insisted that an unnamed former governor of a South-South state and serving senator actually owns the company.
The lawmaker and Nyong were alleged to have built a family of consultants ranging from retired and serving senior law enforcement and judicial officers as well as top politicians, retired and serving civil servants and other influential members of the society to assist in flouting building regulations and controls.
Nyong and his contractor, Henry Odofin, were recently arrested and remanded in custody for 30 days to enable the relevant law enforcement agency carry out thorough investigations. He was however allegedly released before the expiration of the stipulated 30-day remand period. A judicial officer was fingered in the plot to ensure he was freed from custody.
Sources within the Lagos State Government said they were not unaware of the huge resources available to the company but vowed that “government would not be deterred in pursuing those behind these acts that have caused the loss of lives of innocent Lagosians.” The source insisted that “the State Government investigations have so far shown that most of the structures were built with substandard materials and in flagrant disregard of Town Planning Laws and Regulations.”
Confidential police sources have indicated that they are “rounding off their investigations and are expected to send their report to the Office of the State Director of Public Prosecution for swift commencement of prosecution.”