Lagos Building Collapse Kills Two Sisters, Injures Mother

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Two
sisters – Toyin and Bukky Coker – were killed on Wednesday when a part of the
two-storey building they lived in at M20, Jakande Low Cost Housing Estate,
Isolo, Lagos, collapsed. Their mother identified simply as Iya
Coker was injured.
Three out of the six flats on one of
the two wings of the building completely collapsed at about 12:05am. It was learnt  that the deceased
and their mother lived on the first floor.

PUNCH Metro learnt that Toyin, was a 30-year-old
medical doctor, while Bukky recently finished her national youth service. Both
sisters were graduates of the University of Lagos.
One of the survivors, Ahmadu Omoniyi,
who lived on the ground floor of the building said he informed Mrs. Coker of
the impending danger at about 11.40pm  on Tuesday night when he heard the
building cracking.
He said, “When I got home on Tuesday
evening, I observed that sand and stone were falling off from the walls and the
decking. I informed the caretaker immediately. I moved into the apartment in
September.
“Around 11pm, I suddenly woke up
feeling uneasy.  I roused the other two people staying with me and asked
them to start packing vital things while I went to Mrs. Coker’s place to draw
her attention to the situation.
“When I got to her floor, she answered
me from inside saying, ‘God will see us through till tomorrow’. Nobody stayed
on the second floor, so, I joined my other flat mates downstairs.
“To my utmost surprise as soon as we
removed our vitals documents from our apartment and moved like three steps
away, the building collapsed. It was God that saved us because the whole place
went down.”
How woman, corpses were found –Neighbour
A resident of the area, Opeyemi Fagun,
said the sound of the collapsed building drew neighbours’ attention to the
scene.
He said despite starting the emergency
operation started the incident happened, Coker could not be rescued until after
about four hours.
He said, “We heard the woman saying,
‘please help, please help’ but we couldn’t locate her on time because of the
amount of debris that had fallen all over the place.
“We finally located her at about 4am
where a wooden cupboard had fallen over the lower part of her body on the bed
she slept. Meanwhile, the cupboard prevented the hard core debris from falling
on her.”
It was learnt that calls placed by
residents to the number of her two daughters after their mother had been rescued
rang out.
Fagun explained that Coker could not
also give a comprehensive account of the number of people in her apartment as
she seemed to be in shock at the time she was being taken to hospital.
Fagun said, “We kept on searching the
debris. We later sighted a leg, which turned out to be that of Bukky under the
debris. Toyin’s corpse, which was also buried under the debris was also
sighted.
“Both of them were found dead under
the debris. We concluded the search and rescue at about 5am after Toyin’s body
was recovered. Government emergency officials later started coming around some
minutes to six blaring sirens all over the place.”
General Manager of the Lagos State
Emergency Management Agency, Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said the bodies of the
sisters had been taken to the morgue.
When one of our correspondents visited
the scene, oficials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency were seen
marking the buildings on the M Zone of the estate for demolition.
‘Govt officials ignored our calls’
Survivors of the incident told one of
our correspondents that emergency officials, who were alerted to the impending
disaster did not come.
A resident, Daramola Victor, told one
of our correspondents that about 11.40pm, it was noticed that the walls were
about to give way.
He said, “I live in the second wing.
But we noticed that the other wing was cracking and we called the National
Emergency Management Agency, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency and fire
service on the phone. Only the Red Cross came later after the collapse.
“All these agencies are here now
acting as if they are doing something useful. They could have saved lives if
they came when we called on them.”
He said when he noticed that one of
the wings of the building had collapsed, he rushed back into his apartment and
evacuated his family.
“I really don’t know where to go now.
All our properties are outside. Neither LASEMA nor NEMA is giving us any
assistance in this direction,” he said.
State officials lied –Residents
Residents of the buildings at the site
that have now been tagged “distressed” and sealed by the  Lagos State
Building Control Agency, said no effort was made in the past by government
officials to test the state of the buildings in the estate.
Earlier, the Commissioner for Housing,
Mr. Bosun Jeje, who was at the site briefly, had said the buildings were
“inspected frequently by our engineers.”
He said, “This is a responsible
government, whenever anything like this happens government always ensures that
those who are affected are taken care of.
“Government will offset the medical
bills of victims who are receiving treatment in the hospital. As you can see,
the buildings have been marked for demolition because they are weak.”
 Managing Director, Lagos State
Property Development Corporation, Biodun Oki, also said the residents had been
given notice to quit the buildings prior to the collapse.
“The markings of the distressed
buildings had been before now and even some of them moved out before now,” Oki
said.
But residents said the buildings were
marked for demolition immediately after  Wednesday’s incident. They
claimed there was no prior warning from government agencies.
One of our correspondents noticed
officials of the LASBCA marking the buildings on the M Zone of the estate at
about 9am on Wednesday.
An angry resident, who pleaded
anonymity said, “If anybody tells you that they had inspected these buildings
before, they are only lying. We had called on the government at different times
to compel the owners of the buildings to renovate them but they did not take
any step.
“I did the renovation of my own
apartment when I moved in. I would have packed out of the apartment if not
because I am financially handicapped.
“If government had inspected the
houses and said they were “distressed” we would have packed out without
complaint. They don’t care about us.”
Another resident, Ibrahim Ade, who
corroborated this, said he was angry when he saw government officials sealing
other buildings on Wednesday.
He said the inefficiency of government
cost the two sisters their lives.
“Go to all the buildings, you will see
that they are not in good condition, but government refused to do what was
necessary until people died,” he said.
President of the residents’
association, Abiodun Taiwo, also berated the officials for their insensitive
attitude to the state of the buildings in the estate.
Source:
Punch

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