The Lagos State Tribunal of Inquiry into the collapse of the 21-storey building on Gerrard Road in Ikoyi has submitted its report to the state government.
Presenting the report on Wednesday at the Governor’s Office in Alausa, the Tribunal Chairman, Toyin Ayinde, stated that the team was able to execute the assignment successfully.
He explained that they visited the project site for a general assessment, coordinated the activities of the consultants who conducted tests on the site, as well as received and reviewed documents from relevant Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.
Ayinde revealed that the Tribunal also conducted 35 interview sessions, interrogated 91 people, requested and received 21 memoranda; as well as accessed the home of the late Chief Executive Officer of Fourscore Heights Limited, Mr Olufemi Osibona.
According to him, the visit was to gather relevant information to support the Tribunal’s fact-finding mission.
The Tribunal chairman added that Osinona’s house was accessed in the presence of members of his family, where some documents that were scanned helped in gaining further insights into the case, particularly the processes that led to the construction and eventual collapse.
Read the full text of his address at the presentation of the report below:
When the unfortunate incident of the collapse of the 21-storey structure happened in Ikoyi, Lagos State on 1st November, 2021, many of us were at our different areas of endeavour. Little did we know the gravity of the calamity that had befallen us as a nation, as Lagos State and particularly the victims of the collapse, as well as their family members.
Once again, we commiserate with the bereaved families and pray for the repose of the souls of the victims. We pray also that this would be the last of such sad events. But prayer will not always be our resort when issues of serious concerns like this happen, which was probably why the Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwoolu, constituted the 6-man Tribunal of Inquiry to look into the immediate and remote causes, as well as circumstances surrounding the incident, with the hope that we can find a solution to this lingering menace.
As with many other cases like this, various groups, professionals, organisations and individuals have voiced their concerns and opinions with everyone assuming the role of experts. When the Tribunal was therefore constituted, members took up the responsibility with the greatest sense of humility, knowing that our choice was a privilege, given the preponderance of more eminently qualified professionals and individuals around us, some of whom had made submissions in the past on building collapse cases.
The distrust that has pervaded our polity generally has even made professionals not to trust that members of the Tribunal, who themselves are registered and experienced professionals in their own right, would do justice to professionalism, and consider all issues and documents fairly.
While members of the Tribunal recognise that we may not have been here because we are the best, we understand that we have only been presented an opportunity to make a difference. Although people always want things to turn out right in Nigeria, the reality is that many can’t pay the price because, often, those who seek to do the right things end up being labeled as the villains.
We therefore seek protection as members of this Tribunal to be seen as having discharged this assignment to the best of our ability, without sentiments, and that we have acted based on the documents that were made available to us, as well as the information gathered from all the witnesses who appeared before the Tribunal.
The Tribunal further received submissions from professional associations, groups and individuals that helped in formulating the recommendations proposed.
The Tribunal had the opportunity to access the home of the late CEO of Fourscore Heights Limited, in the presence of members of his family, where some documents that were scanned helped in gaining further insights into the case, particularly the processes that led to the construction and eventual collapse. The Tribunal also hosted a representation of the developer’s company comprising two legal firms.
It is on record that in their first and second appearances, the lawyers had expressed the fact that they were external lawyers to the company and had little knowledge about the case in hand. We were, however, later to receive a request from the same lawyers (5 weeks after the collapse) requesting to make an independent investigation in view of a suggestion, to them only, of possible sabotage.
The Tribunal was of the opinion that pursuing such a course was equal to mocking all of those who lost their lives in the collapsed building and for which there had been no closure yet. The lawyers were advised to seek permission from the State authorities.
Having spent approximately 6 weeks on this assignment, we now wish to make our submission to the Governor of Lagos State who constituted the Tribunal. We need to note, however, that building collapse is rooted in the collapse of values, morals and ethics which we need to work on as a nation. We cannot sow the wind and not expect to reap the whirlwind. Therefore, ethics and due diligence need to be restored.
To execute this assignment successfully, the Tribunal:
Visited the Project Site for a general assessment;
Coordinated the activities of the consultants who conducted tests on the site;
Received and reviewed documents from relevant MDAs;
Conducted 35 interview sessions;
Interrogated a total of 91 persons;
Requested and received a total of 21 memoranda; and
Accessed the home of the late C.E.O. of Fourscore Heights Limited, Mr. Olufemi Osibona, with a view to gathering any other useful/relevant information to support the Tribunal’s fact-finding mission.
We are, therefore, pleased to present to Mr. Governor the report of the inquiry carried out by The Tribunal containing the various findings, and the recommendations which we hope the Government would be able to implement in order to bring a lasting solution to incidence of building collapse, not only in Lagos State, but nationally.
The members of the Tribunal would like to appreciate the Governor of Lagos State for giving us the opportunity to serve the Lagos State Government and the good people of the State. We hope that with this submission to the State, and the subsequent implementation of the recommendations going forward, confidence would be restored in the construction sector of the national economy. We thank you for the privilege.
TPl. Toyin Ayinde FNITP