Ikoyi Building Collapse: I Withdrew From Project Orally, Returned Later – Structural Engineer Reveals
Olayemi Esho, a structural engineer, who worked as a non-residential engineer at the 21-storey building that collapsed on Gerrard Road, in the Ikoyi area of Lagos State, on Thursday, said his working relationship with the owner was like father to son.
Esho stated this during the continuation of the coroner inquest presided over by Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe on the circumstances surrounding the building collapse.
PUNCH Metro had reported that the building crumbled around 2pm on November 1, 2021.
The skyscraper, owned by Fourscore Heights Limited, trapped over 50 persons, including the firm’s Managing Director, Femi Osibona; his friend, a United States of America-based Nigerian businessman, Wale Bob-Oseni; and his personal assistant, Oyinye Enekwe, among others.
During cross-examination, the engineer, who works with Beyond Design Limited, told the coroner that since he was not a resident engineer, he could only give advice while the project was ongoing.
Esho, who is registered with the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, explained that Osibona was advised to carry out a structural audit of the building before it was initially sealed by the Lagos State Government.
When asked why he didn’t escalate the issue to the government after he discovered that the floor was increased to 21 floors, he said, “Like I said earlier that my relationship with the deceased was like father to son and I could only give advice as a non-residential engineer, which was my duty as expected of me.”
The structural engineer, who has been in the industry for over 12 years, when asked by the coroner if he had handled a project of such magnitude before, said no.
Asked to explain why his relationship with Osibona went sour in June 2021, he said, “The deceased called and asked my company to write a letter of certification of the building construction, but we declined.
“I then issued a withdrawal letter.
“It was done orally because of my relationship with the deceased,” he added.
Esho noted that when Osibona became angry over his decision to withdraw from the project, he returned to work with him.
Magistrate Komolafe adjourned further hearing till March 18, 2022.