…Death toll climbs to 35
The Lagos State Government says it only approved the construction of four floors for the five-storey collapsed building in Lekki in which 34 people were killed.
This was disclosed by the Commissioner for Home Affairs, Alhaji Abdullateef Abdulhakeem, when he received the leadership of the Nasrul-Lahi-L-Fatih Society, NASFAT, in Alausa, Lagos, southwest Nigeria, on Thursday.
Abdulhakeem said the state government approved four floors for the developer, Lekki Worldwide Estate Limited, in the development of the Lekki Garden Construction, but lamented that the developer decided to add a fifth floor, which led to the collapse.
According to the commissioner, the developers of the building had criminal minds by adding another floor in the quest for materialism and flagrantly flouted the town planning laws of Lagos State.
He charged religious leaders in the state to preach against materialism from the pulpit and also disregard the lust for material things, adding that religious leaders must stop receiving money from people in order to tell them fables.
Abdulhakeem said as change agents, religious leaders should enlighten the society, especially their members to do what is right as they would prefer to listen to them than the government.
He described the Mile 12 crisis as unfortunate as religion and ethnicity were brought into the fore, charging pastors and imams to preach religious and ethnic tolerance in their sermons.
“We are all from the same source, brothers and sisters. We are all from Adam as we came into existence through him. We need to play a part so that religion and ethnicity will not be brought to the fore in Lagos. Nigeria is a marriage ordained by God and we must learn to live together,” he said
The commissioner further charged religious leaders to focus on preaching issues of security and safety from their pulpit, saying that the state government had been very proactive in the area of security, citing the quick rescue of the kidnapped schoolgirls in Ikorodu as an example of government’s security proactiveness.
Chief Missioner, NASFAT, Alhaji Abdullahi Akinbode, appealed to the state government for financial support for its programmes, as the body had been struggling financially to meet the demands of serving God properly.
He said when it comes to donation of money, the Muslim population were too stingy to donate for the things of God, while pledging to assist the state government in propagating religious harmony in the state.
Meanwhile, sixteen more bodies were yesterday retrieved from the collapsed five-storey building in Ikate, Lekki, Lagos, bringing the death toll to 35. Thirteen were rescued.
One of the survivors taken from the rubble died at the Lagos Island General Hospital; 18 bodies were pulled out before rescuers left the site on Tuesday.
National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) Southwest spokesman Ibrahim Farinloye, in a message at about 7.30pm, said: “Operations concluded at 7.20pm with 34 dead and 13 rescued after reaching ground zero.
“Investigation on the cause of the collapse has started by various federal and state agencies.”
Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) boss Michael Akindele said 95 per cent of the victims were foreigners.
He said: “As we speak now, the time is 7:20pm. Search and rescue exercise on the collapsed five-storey building of 12 blocks of flats is hereby concluded and the physical record we have is 13 lives rescued and 34 bodies.
“We had full complement of all responders on board to ensure smooth response and recovery. It is a sad story; but notwithstanding, our job as responders is to ensure that we mitigate such that all necessary actions are taken.
“The greatest challenge we had was on Tuesday and it was because the families of the deceased and those rescued, 95 per cent of them are non-Nigerians.
“We have people from the North and East, but majority of those we saw in this complex were not Nigerians. Some are Togolese and others Beninoise. The state government will address the public on the situation of the foreign victims.
“Today (Wednesday), we had a very smooth operation. I must commend the police, RRS, Civil Defence, Red Cross, NEMA, LASAMBUS and all others for a diligent job.”
NEMA Southwest coordinator Yakubu Sulaimon said rescuers were initially denied access on Tuesday morning but security operatives brought the situation under control.
“We do not have a list of occupants in the building. The state government will take appropriate action on the other buildings marked,” he said.