By Emmanuel Obisue
Two of the seven persons trapped under a collapsed building along Hamza Abdullahi Road, Off Gado Nasco Road, Kubwa, Abuja, have been confirmed dead.
Nigerian Pilot had reported that a combined team of the Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, Federal Roads Maintenance Agency, Federal Road Safety Corps, the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, and others, had rescued five victims from the rubble, while at least two others remained trapped.
After tireless rescue operations, the lifeless bodies of the duo were scrambled out from the rubble amid tearful wailing.
Our correspondent who was at the scene of the incident on Friday morning, confirmed that the collapse of the building which was said to be a shopping mall, happened around midnight on Thursday, trapping a security man and some other workers on the site.
The building according to eyewitnesses, was being converted from a shopping mall to a residential apartment, with the developer adding at least two more storeys on an already existing structure which did not have the weight to carry the new add ons.
“It happened around 11.30pm yesterday. We were seven people sleeping here. One person slept at the boys quarter, another slept in the security post, and then the remaining five slept in the main building. Five of us have been rescued. It remains a security man, and the man that brought me here,” one of the survivors told news men.
Also speaking on the incident, Ikharo Attah, Senior Special Assistant on Monitoring, Inspection and Enforcement to the FCT Minister, said the owner of the property was fore-warned by concerned residents.
“The building was initially a shopping mall, but the report we got from residents was that the owner was warned, and at a certain point, it was now being converted to a residential apartment.
“The down was a shopping mall, but they were putting up some blocks of flat on the first and second suspended floors. You cannot alter a shopping mall and convert to a residential building thereby giving it more load that what it was meant to carry,” he noted.
Attah added that the FCT Minister has ordered that tests be carried out on most of the high rise buildings around the area.
He noted that the combined team of security agencies at the scene are currently trailing the owner of the property, who residents suggested may have absconded.
“We have a policy in the FCTA that when a building collapse, the land is forfeited and revoked and the place is converted into a park or garden for residents around the neighbourhood,” he added.
Umar Shago, Coordinator, Abuja Metropolitan Management Council, blamed the incident on quackery and shady construction, adding that the FCTA has a policy of subjecting old buildings to integrity test.