By Henry Umoru, Chris Ochayi & Ikechukwu Nnochiri
ABUJA-TRAGEDY struckÂ in the high brow area of Asokoro District of the nationâ€™s Capital City, Abuja when a three storey building under construction collapsed, leaving close to unconfirmed six persons dead and no fewer than 30 persons trapped.
Though six of the persons rescuedÂ at the scene of the incident sustained life-threatening injuries, just as the identity of the dead man who was brought out could not be ascertained.
The collapsed building is situated on plot No. 1895 in Cadastral Zone A04 of Asokoro District.
Meanwhile, the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory Administration(FCTA), Senator Muhammad Adamu Aliero who immediately ordered the arrest and prosecution of the developer by the law enforcement agents,Â noted that the building has no building plan approval from the FCT Development Control, said the plot of land had been in contention and the Department of Development had on May 2, 2008 and May 12, 2008 issued â€œStop Work Noticeâ€ and Demolition Noticeâ€ respectively.
Names of the six persons rescued from under the rumbles of the collapsed building were Haolu, Sola, Muritala Abubakar, Yausa, Rilwan Garuba, Muritala Suleman, Lawan Adam and they were immediately taken to a nearby hospital in Asokoro.
As at press time, men of the Federal Road Safety Corps(FRSC), the National Emergency Management Agency(NEMA), Red Cross, Civil Defence, among others were still searching for those trapped.
The building with the inscription, â€œAmazing Grace Plazaâ€, was already put for let, but Emmanuel Adeyemo who was in-charge-of Casting explained that 40 people were officially assigned to work at the site, just as he stressed that immediately the incident occurred, the site engineer, Ifeanyi ran away for his dear life.
Narrating his experience, one of the survivors, Sola disclosed that at least twenty of his co-workers as well as food sellers were on the ground floor when the tragedy occurred.
According to an eye witness, many of the workers were on the topmost floor and about to begin the casting for the third storey when they suddenly noticed the gradual crumbling of the building. Many of them had immediately jumped off while several sank with the building.
Also speaking, Abubakar Musa, a worker at the site explained that some of them (Construction workers) had reported to the Site engineer that the building had a slight shaken yesterday (Wednesday), just as he blamed the collapse on the use of substandard material by the contractor who has since vanished into thin air, adding that while they complained, the site engineer assured them that it was something they could manage.
He said the Engineer also waved them off with a threat to sack any of them that complained unnecessarily.
Reacting to the incident, the Director, Development Control of the Federal Capital Development Authority ( FCDA), Engr. Yahaya Yusuf who noted that the building has been a subject of controversy for about two years, stressed thatÂ after the first foundation, the FCT building authority after its inspection had recommended that the construction be discontinued, adding that the developer rather than stop, went to court to get a court injunction restraining the FCT authority from stopping or demolishing the said structure which according to him was just about a storey building completed then. .
According to him, while the case was still in court, the developer went ahead with the construction process.
Also corroborating what Yusuf said, the Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council(AMMC), Professor Sani Abubakar Mashi said when the owner was asked to discontinue with the building, he quickly ran to an Abuja high court were he secure an injunction, restraining the FCDA from demolishing the building.
According to Aliero, â€œOn Tuesday July 21, 2009 the owner of the unfortunate building (M/s Realty Fortune Limited) obtained a Court Order setting aside the various notices issued by the FCT Administration.
â€œThe FCT High Court of Hon. Justice Ugochukwu A. Ogakwu gave an injunction restraining the FCT Administration from demolishing, or interfering with the development on the said land and from committing any act or further acts of trespass on the said land.
â€œM/s Realty Fortune Limited located at Plot 587, Ahmadu Bello Way, Wuse II, Abuja is registered with the Corporate Affairs Commission with registration number RC 364893 with the Chairman, Osakwe Chinyere and three directors namely Mrs. Chinyere Osakwe, Emmanuel Olufemi as well as Ibiyemi Obafemi Akinlawonâ€.