The Lagos state government has filed an amended charge before a Lagos high court in Igbosere against Richard Nyong, managing director of Lekki Gardens Estate Limited. The charges were filed over alleged negligence in the events leading to the collapse of a building in Lekki area of the state on March 10, 2016.
The state government, through the office of Adeniji Kazeem, the attorney-general and commissioner for justice, had filed charges against Nyong and others before Sybil Nwaka, a justice, over the building collapse which reportedly claimed 34 lives.
At the resumed hearing of the matter on Wednesday, Titilayo Shitta-Bey, the state’s director of public prosecution (DPP), informed the court of the amended charge dated June 13, 2017, and additional proof of evidence filed against the defendants, saying that all the defendants have since been duly served.
Aside Nyong, other defendants are Sola Olumofe, an executive director of Lekki Gardens; Odofin Henry Taiwo, Omolabake Mortune, Omotilewa Oluwatosin Joseph of Get Too Rich Investment Limited and HC Insight Solution Limited.
Earlier, Olumofe’s lawyer, George Oguntade (SAN) apologised on behalf of his client for failure to previously appear in court, a development which led to the judge issuing bench warrant against him at the last adjourned date.
Oguntade said Olumofe was in United Kingdom receiving treatment for type 2 diabetes and high cholesterol as at the time the bench warrant was issued against him, and that he flew into the country to present himself for trial. The lawyer, however, gave a firm commitment that his client would not travel outside the country until the matter against him is concluded.
Oguntade also moved an application urging the court to quash the charge against Olumofe on the grounds that the criminal charge disclosed no prima facie case against him, and that the prosecution failed to invite him for questioning before the charge was filed.
Responding to the application, the state’s DPP (Shitta-Bey) urged the court to dismiss the application on the account of the fact that it was baseless. Contrary to Oguntade’s contention, Shitta-Bey said even Olumofe admitted in his supporting affidavit that there was nexus between him and the matter, being the lead technical professional in the making of decisions with respect to the construction of the collapsed building.
She added that aside the fact that the attorney-general has the constitutional duty to file criminal charge against anyone reasonable suspected to have committed a crime, the said Olumofe was invited by the police and the building collapse prevention guild set up by government to investigate the matter, but he failed to present himself for questioning.
After entertaining the arguments for and against the application, Nwaka said there was need to hear the case expeditiously, and thereby adjourned to June 29, 2017 for ruling and arraignment.
Tragedy had struck on 10 March, 2016 when a six-storey building under construction by Lekki Gardens in Lekki area of the state collapsed. The developer was said to have added additional floor to the building against what was approved by government for construction.
Specifically, the defendants are facing six-count charges for failure to obtain building approval for the collapsed building and involuntary manslaughter, offences contrary to and punishable under Section 75 (1) of the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law of Lagos State 2010, and Section 229 of Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 respectively.
The government also listed some of the victims to include William Akpati, Kazeem Ilesanmi, Raphael Ezeh, Saminu Umarand Sunday Ezeh.