Justice Adewunmi Oshin of the Lagos High Court has restrained the Lagos State government from taking over and demolishing the remaining two Ikoyi high-rise buildings constructed by Fourscore Heights Limited.
Justice Oshin ordered all parties in the suit to maintain the status quo pending the hearing and determination of a suit filed by 15 subscribers of the various units of flats/penthouses/terraces/apartments being constructed in three high-rise buildings at 44BCD, Gerrard Road, Ikoyi.
Among the three high-rise buildings (namely Blocks A, B, and C), one of them, Block B (consisting of 21-storeys) collapsed in November 2021, killing 46 persons while 15 persons were rescued alive.
In the substantive suit, the subscribers, including a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Wemimo Ogunde; a former cleric of the Redeemed Church (RCCG), Pastor Adetola Odutola; an Oba-elect, Pastor Ghandi Olaoye are seeking general damages of N200 million and another N50 million as the cost of filing the suit.
The claimants, in the suit filed by their lawyer, AbdulHakeem U. Mustapha, SAN, are contending that it is the failure of the Lagos State government and its officials to supervise the construction of one of the three towers in line with regulations that led to its eventual collapse.
They claimed that they invested over N15 billion in the property that was being developed by Fourscore Heights Limited, a company promoted by Femi Osibona who also died in the tragedy.
Other claimants in the matter are: Pastor Bola & Mrs Bunmi Odutola, Ms. Zahra Motomori, Kwara Business School Limited, Saikoyi Property Limited, and Mr. Adewale & Mrs Foluso Folowosele.
Others are: Mr. Moses & Mrs. Margaret Anibaba, Dr. Oladipo & Mrs. Adepeju Oluyomi and Mr. Tayo Oladapo.
Apart from the state government, other defendants are the Attorney-General of Lagos, the Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA), and Edge of Design Limited.
The claimants are asking the court for a declaration that the first to fourth defendants were negligent in the performance of their duties by failing and/or neglecting to supervise the construction of one of the three towers.
They are also urging the court to declare that the agreements between Fourscore Heights Limited and each of them to acquire units of flats, with agreed considerations paid, entitle them to equitable rights and interests in the other two towers.
They also insisted that the first to fourth defendants cannot benefit from their negligence by compulsorily, wrongfully, illegally, and punitively acquiring or threatening to acquire the property at 44BCD through forfeiture and/or purported forfeiture to the Lagos State government following the collapse of one of the towers.
The claimants further asked the court to hold that any demolition of the two other towers when independent evidence of unfavorable non-destructive test results has not been produced will adversely affect their equitable interests in the said properties.
They, therefore, want the court to make an order restraining the defendants from trespassing or further trespassing, demolishing, or further demolishing the properties until an independent audit of the property is carried out by the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN).
They were also seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the defendants from disturbing, interfering with, taking, receiving, or in any way taking possession of, demolishing, divesting, and/or revoking the title, disposing of all or any part of the property, landed or otherwise.
In a ruling delivered on the issue, Justice Oshin also ordered the applicants to serve on the defendants in the suit all necessary papers, so that the Court can proceed to hear the matter on its merit.
The court then adjourned the suit to September 29 for the hearing and determination of the substantive matter.
The Lagos State Government had planned to demolish the remaining buildings on the land, where the 21-storey building collapsed on Gerrard Road, in Ikoyi.
The Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development,
Idris Salako, said the buildings would take about three months or more, to be demolished, adding that the land on which the structures were situated would be taken over by the state government.
He noted that the taking over of the land was in line with the state physical planning law, which stated that owners of collapsed buildings would forfeit the land to the state.