*NEMA recovers body of developer, Femi Osibona

*Sanwo-Olu declares 3 days mourning, gives panel 30 days to submit report

*Gov gives condition for survivors’ discharge from hospital

*NEMA debunks alleged threat to boycott rescue ops

*Leave Osinbajo out of building collapse—Friends, associates

By Dapo Akinrefon, Olasunkanmi Akoni, Bose Adelaja & Esther Onyegbula

Reports coming in this morning say two more bodies have been recovered from the Ikoyi building that collapsed on Monday.

This brings the total recovered bodies to 40.

As at yesterday…

THE death toll in the 21-storey building that collapsed on Monday on Gerrard Road, in the Ikoyi, Lagos, has increased to 38, as the owner of Fourscore Homes, the company in charge of the building, Femi Osibona, was recovered dead yesterday.

An official of the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, who confirmed the development toTheCable at the site, said rescue workers recovered Osibona’s body yesterday evening. The body was said to have been taken to the morgue

The development came on a day Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu declared three days of mourning for victims of the collapsed building and inaugurated a six-man independent investigation team which was given 30 days to submit its report.

The 21-storey building crumbled around 2p.m. on Monday when workers were on the site.

The South-West Coordinator of the National Emergency Management Agency, Ibrahim Farinloye, also confirmed that 33 males and three females had been brought out dead from the rubble, bringing the total number of casualties to 38.

Farinloye added that nine people, including a female and eight males, were rescued alive.

Osibona’s body recovered; Sanwo-Olu gives condition for survivors’ discharge

Mr. Femi Osibona’s body was recovered by a combined team of emergency responders. It was gathered that the lifeless body of Osibona was recovered after painstaking efforts from emergency responders.

However, there were conflicting reports on when the body was recovered.

Meanwhile, Governor Sanwo-Olu, yesterday, gave conditions under which the survivors of the 21-storey building would be discharged from the Lagos Island General Hospital, Marina.

Sanwo-Olu during his visit to the hospital, yesterday, stated that the survivors would only be discharged when the medical team give an all-clear concerning their condition.

On his Instagram page, the governor, who shared pictures of his visit to the hospital, said: “I visited the survivors of the collapsed building this morning (Thursday), and gave them my word that they will get the best of care in the hospital, and will not be discharged until they have been given the all-clear by the medical team attending to them.

“As much as we sympathize with all concerned, we will also ensure that we are open and thorough in investigating the cause of the collapse.

“In that regard, a high-powered professional investigative panel has been set up, whose membership consists of professionals outside of the government. The panel, which is headed by the President of Nigeria Institute of Town Planners, Toyin Ayinde, has been given clear terms of reference, with a 30-day assignment to tell us what went wrong at the site.

“The panel’s terms of reference also include ascertaining whether there was a compromise of the building codes by the developer, his contractor, and statutory regulatory agencies.”

3 days of mourning declared, probe panel inaugurated

Similarly, Governor Sanwo-Olu, in a statement by his Commissioner Information and Strategy, Mr. Gbenga Omotoso, declared three days of mourning over the building collapse.

The statement read: “All flags are to be flown at half-mast in public and private buildings and official engagements cancelled during the mourning period.

“Lagos State Government, once again, commiserates with all those who lost their loved ones in the unfortunate incident.

“Governor Sanwo-Olu has visited the site thrice to encourage the rescuers and console relations of those who are believed to have been trapped in the 21-storey building.

“He was today (yesterday) at the hospital to cheer up those injured before swearing in a six-man panel of Inquiry to find out why the building went down and recommend measures to prevent such incidents.”

The governor, who inaugurated a six-man independent investigation team set up to probe the remote and immediate cause of the collapse, said the panel had 30 days to submit its report in the first instance.

Members of the probe panel comprise professional builders, town planners, structural engineers and legal practitioners — all from the private sector.

READ ALSO: Collapsed Ikoyi Towers: Rescue team in search of over 45 trapped victims

President of Nigeria Institute of Town Planners, NITP, Mr. Toyin Ayinde, is the chairman of the panel, while Ekundayo Onajobi, a lawyer in a private law firm, is the secretary.

Other panel members are a structural engineer, Dr. Akintilo Idris Adeleke; an architect, Yinka Ogundairo; representative of Institute of Builders, Mr. Godfrey O. Godfrey, and Mrs. Bunmi Ibrahim, a property lawyer.

The panel’s terms of reference also include ascertaining whether there was a compromise of the building codes by the developer, his contractor and statutory regulatory agencies.

Inaugurating members of the panel, yesterday, Sanwo-Olu urged them to discharge their duties with the highest professionalism in the interest of the general populace.

The governor said: “Future generations would not forgive us if we do not do the right thing.

“Life is something that we need to continue to cherish. We can’t lose it in the shortest time even beyond our expectations.

“The constitution of this panel shows want to know what really happened so we can all learn and ensure we can live in a safe environment.”

Panel gets 30 days to submit report

The governor told the panel it had 30 days to turn around time to complete its investigation but could request more time if there was need.

He said: “No one can describe the pain families of the victims are going through. We believe Justice will be done and lessons learned will be used to guard our path forward. The whole nation is watching.”

In his remarks, chairman of the panel, Mr. Ayinde said: “We promise to be guided by professional standard and we hope we will collectively be able to chart a new course that will guarantee the safety of lives of Nigerian citizens as far  as the construction industry is concerned. This is exercise will be different if we decide to place value on lives.”

NEMA debunks alleged threat to  quit rescue operations

Also yesterday, the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, said it was not contemplating withdrawing its services from the ongoing rescue operation at the scene of Ikoyi building collapse in Lagos State, contrary to speculations in some quarters.

The refutal came against the backdrop of insinuations that the agency was not happy about comments made by Governor Bababjide Sanwo-Olu, which gave credit only to Lagos State Emergency Agency, LASEMA, on the rescue work done so far.

However, the Acting Coordinator of NEMA in Lagos State, Ibrahim Farinloye, said: “This is a national assignment and we are not pulling out. Please tell the public that NEMA is fully on ground.

“Our men are waxing stronger, ready to work and rescue the victims. This is a national assignment and there is no going back.”

Trapped victim’s vehicle removed from scene

In a similar development, over 72 hours after rescue and search operations for victims of the collapsed building commenced, a vehicle belonging to one of the trapped victims was removed from the scene, yesterday, by the rescue team.

The recovered vehicle, marked YAB655AZ, a dark Toyota Highlander SUV, was said to be the owned by an aluminum fabrication company, which came there with some of its workers.

Father of missing child begs Sanwo-Olu for help

As family of victims besieged the site of the collapsed building, a father, simply identified as Mr Abel, whose son is trapped in the debris and yet to be recovered, has made passionate appeal to Governor Sanwo-Olu to help recover the corpse of his son.

Mr Abel said: “They are unable to show me the corpse of my son that was recovered, because of some processes.

“So, I am confused as to what to do. I live in Abuja, what do I do? Do I go back or wait for them to contact me?

“The governor referred me to his special assistant but I have heard that he (my son) was here with his boss before the incident.

“He has completed his secondary education, and I didn’t want him to stay at home, so he started working here, the owner of the place approached me they wanted to bring him here to work, I am from Benue State, I live in Abuja, my name is Abel, my son’s name is Emmanuel Abel.”

Leave Osinbajo out of building collapse — Friends, associates

Meanwhile, friends and associates of Professor Yemi Osinbajo, yesterday, warned that the Vice-President should be left out of the Ikoyi building collapse.

Richard Akinnola, in a statement for and on behalf of friends and associates of Osinbajo, said: “It is most unfortunate that at a time people are mourning the collapse of the Ikoyi building and the loss of several lives in the most unfortunate circum-stances, some mischief makers are trying to score cheap political points and use this very sad situation to tarnish the name and image of our hardworking and humble Vice-President Osinbajo.

“The social media has suddenly become awash with information trying to link the VP directly or indirectly to the collapsed structure.

“Some stories say the developer, Mr Femi Osibona, is a front for some big guns in government, others directly say the land is owned by the Vice-President, whilst others make a veiled connection to the governor of Lagos.

“For the avoidance of doubt and for the sake of those who may be misled by the spurious and totally unfounded statements, we, as concerned colleagues and friends of the Vice-President, wish to make it clear that the Vice-President has never been involved, neither does he have any ownership interest in the developers’ company or business.

“The facts can be easily verified from the Corporate Affairs Commission, CAC, or land registry which the malicious writers have failed to check or show a connection between the VP and the collapsed building.

“We commiserate with the families of those who have lost lives and limbs as well as those still in the agony of not knowing the fate of those beneath the rubles in this most unfortunate incident. We urge that as Nigerians, we should show more compassion and empathy to grieving compatriots rather than attempting to score political goals through it.”

Vanguard News Nigeria

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