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22.09.2023 Extra Residents of Collapsed Complex Blame Lagos Landlord for Property Loss

Published 22nd Sep, 2023

By Timileyin Akinmoyeje

In the wake of the collapse of the Agboye estate complex in the Ketu area of Lagos on Sunday, residents have cited the landlord’s negligence as the major reason for the loss of property in the incident.

This was made known by eye witnesses in an interview with FIJ on Tuesday.

A series of incidents that would lead to an eventual demolition of the complex had begun with a partial collapse on September 16, per a report by The Punch. According to the report, the collapse was caused by a heavy rainfall and the flood that followed on Saturday.

The situation worsened when the building further gave way on Sunday, leaving two people injured and damaging more properties. In response to the crisis, the Lagos Building Control Agency, the Nigerian Police Force, and the State Emergency Management Agency began demolishing the complex in a joint operation on September 18.

FIJ visited the site of the demolition on the same day and interviewed residents of the complex and the estate who had suffered losses in the incidents. They narrated their experience by starting with the cause of the collapse and the immediate impact of the crisis on their lives.

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‘ALL OUR PROPERTIES ARE GONE IN THE DEMOLITION’

Mama Joy (not real name), one of the affected residents, had moved into the building complex just a month before the collapse. Her apartment was on the third floor and all of her belongings got stuck in the wreck after the collapse.

When FIJ arrived at the demolition site, she was trying to negotiate access to the building so she could salvage some of her belongings. However, the LABSCA officer she spoke with was not willing to take chances. The official told the resident that the building may further cave in if anyone made attempts to carry heavy appliances.

“My freezer is brand new, my TV is still inside. I wan pay this aboki make he help me see wetin we fit carry,” Mama Joy pleaded frantically.

When she granted FIJ audience, she described the entire incident as a great loss.

“I was inside the market when a neighbour suddenly called me that they had brought bulldozers and they were going to bring the house down. When the back part collapsed on Saturday, I was already thinking of how I would move out before it became worse,” Mama Joy told FIJ.

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“Because of how bad the first collapse was, I wasn’t able to find anybody willing to risk helping me. That time, when Aboki people came, they rejected the job because they didn’t want to die. But these people arrived suddenly. My freezer, drinks and food are inside that apartment.”

Excavators at Agboye estate, Ketu
LABSCA EXCAVATORS AT WORK AT THE AGBOYE ESTATE DEMOLITION

‘THIEVES HAVE STOLEN MY PROPERTY!’

Another resident, who introduced himself as James, crouched at the shop almost adjacent the complex while the demolition was still ongoing. Unlike Mama Joy, he was able to salvage some of his belongings with the help of Usman, a handyman, who was at the site to earn a living.

James told FIJ that he had just returned from outside Lagos that morning.

“I just came back home not long after the trucks arrived. I was lucky because we had no idea they would be here today. I was able to bring out some of my things. I have my books and some shoes. I think I’ll sell some of them because I don’t know where to put them,” said James.

The resident told FIJ that some of his kitchen items including a new gas cylinder were missing. He said thieves had used the commotion caused by the demolition exercise as the cover to cart away belongings that were not theirs.

“You know this place is very big and some of us moved in recently. So, some people pretend like they lived here to move people’s properties. They have stolen my gas cooker, my mattress and most of the things in my kitchen,” said James.

Usman, the handyman who helped James in salvaging his property, told FIJ that the demolition exercise had been to his advantage.

The handyman, who does menial jobs at Ketu market, said he came to the complex when he heard it was about to be demolished so he could make money.

Usman said people looked at him and his colleagues with suspicion when they first arrived to earn their living.

I think say God like me. Many of us, dem no gree give us job. Dem no gree allow us enter. Them dey fear say we be thief. Them say thief don carry some of their properties,” he said in pidgin English.

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‘I BLAME THE LANDLORD. THEY SAID THEY WARNED HIM ALREADY’

Another handyman, who chose to be identified as Sani, disclosed to FIJ that the landlord had been a particularly “stubborn person”.

Sani said the landlord had been told in the past to renovate the complex but he would not listen to anyone.

They don already warn this Baba say make him fix this house. Them don mention am since. But he still dey collect money from people, he no do house. Na him I blame,” Sani said.

Corroborating Sani’s claim, James told FIJ that people had told the landlord to renovate the building.

“I moved in about seven months ago. Some weeks after I moved in, I started hearing stories about the house. They told me that the landlord does not make repairs on time. I am not even talking about the strength of the building alone o. Simple things like water, ventilation could be gold,” James said.

Adeyemi Jumoke (not real name), a petty trader in the area, told FIJ that some residents renewed their rents in the complex a day to the collapse.

“This is not the first time tenants will be noticing little cracks in the house. According to what I heard from people, whenever complaints are made to the landlord, he would either promise to fix the place or tell them off. The Baba is a difficult man,” Jumoke said.

FIJ made several phone calls to Onome Agboye, the landlord of the complex, for comments on the incident on Tuesday but they were not answered. A text message sent to him had also not been responded to at press time.

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MORE BUILDINGS IN THE ESTATE RISK COLLAPSE AND DEMOLITION

Against the chaotic backdrop of engine noise, FIJ spotted some LABSCA inspection agents in an unpainted building that was adjacent to the building complex. The residents of the building had already moved their belongings out.

The building was marked “LSMTL”, an abbreviation which stands for Lagos State Material Testing Laboratory.

Another building marked for demolition at Agboye estate, Ketu
ANOTHER BUILDING MARKED FOR DEMOLITION AT AGBOYE ESTATE, KETU

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In the midst of the inspection, FIJ gathered from a LABSCA official, who asked not to be named, that the marked buildings could collapse from the next heavy rainfall.

The official said that the marked buildings failed structural integrity test and were too dangerous for residents to live in.

“If we let people continue staying in these buildings, they may end up losing their lives. You know the rainy season is still warming up, these buildings wouldn’t last,” the official said.

As of August 2023, over 30,000 people across 10 states have been affected directly by flooding in Nigeria, according to the National Emergency Management Agency.

Meanwhile, the Nigeria Hydrological Services Agency (NIHSA) had predicted more flooding across 32 states in Nigeria in a press briefing in August. The agency warned that cities like Lagos, Ibadan and Abuja were likely to experience more flash floods in 2023.

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Published 22nd Sep, 2023

By Timileyin Akinmoyeje

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