CENTRAL Association of Nigerians in the UK (Canuk) has laid a wreath at the site of the collapsed 21-storey building in Ikoyi where dozens of lives were recently lost including numerous diasporans when the tower block gave way on itself.
At least 44 bodies have been recovered from the rubble and 15 people have been rescued since rescue operations began at the site on November 1. Governor Babajide Sanwoolu has inaugurated a six-man panel to investigate the cause of the collapse, signing an executive bill giving legal backing to the panel.
Among those who died in the collapsed building were Femi Osibona, the former London-based property developer who built it. Several other diasporans also lost their lives there as the upmarket flats were very popular with young UK-based upwardly mobile professionals who saw it as a way of gaining a foothold in the Nigerian property market.
Among those unfortunate diasporans who lost their lives in the tragedy was 35-year old Londoner Samuel Osereme Iwelu. Mr Iwelu, whose aunt, Pauline George, is the deputy mayor of Lambeth, had gone to Nigeria for a wedding and decided to quickly check out the flats to see if they were what he would like to buy.
Canuk’s deputy welfare secretary, Mary Oluwabukola Adekugbe, who visited the scene and laid the wreath on behalf of the UK diaspora, said it very traumatic being there. She added it was reported that there were several diasporans from across Europe and the US who had just popped in to see the flats when the building gave way on them.
Mrs Adekugbe said: “It is particularly gut-wrenching that a lot of the lives we lost are of young people who were on the verge of investing in Nigeria. This was a terrible loss of life but hopefully, this will be the last time we witness such a tragedy as the lessons learnt should deter any reoccurrence.”
It is believe that the tragedy occurred mainly because Mr Osibona had only received permission to construct a 15-storey building but unilaterally extended it to 21 floors. Governor Sanwoolu has suspended the general manager of the Lagos State Building Control Agency, Gbolahan Oki, pending the submission of a report into the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the building.