When The PUNCH correspondent visited the home, Ikenne, Ogun State of the bereaved father of Femi Osibona, Managing Director, Fourscore Heights Limited and the developer of the collapsed Ikoyi high-rise, some church members were seen entering the building.
A document signed by the immediate past General Manager of the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority, dated April 9, 2019, stated that approval of 15 floors was given for the construction. However, an extra six floors were erected, bringing it to a total of 21 floors. Osibona, his personal assistant, Onyinye Enekwe, friend, Wale Bob-Oseni and about 45 others lost their lives in the tragedy which occurred on November 1, 2021. Some survivors are in hospitals receiving treatment.
The one-storey building belonging to Osibona’s father is adjacent to a public cemetery in Ikenne area of Ogun State. The building, painted in cream and a little touch of brown, is located a few meters away from the Ikenne Microfinance Bank. The street was lined by vehicles of various brands and shapes belonging to those who came to pay condolence to Osibona’s father.
Some neighbours were seen loitering around to catch a glimpse of eminent personalities who came to condole with the Osibonas. In the compound is a portrait of the late Osibona with a condolence register.
The visitors and family members rebuffed our correspondent’s attempt to speak with them about the late Osibona. But an uncle to the late businessman, 64-year-old Sola Labiran, said the late Osibona often slept in his house in Ikenne whenever he visited the town to see his aged father who is the Baba Ijo of Our Saviour’s Anglican Church, Ikenne.
He added that he regularly participated in social, community and religious activities in Ikenne while alive. Labiran stated that he spoke with Osibona last on the morning of Monday, November 1, 2021, when the businessman called him via a video call as he entered the building.
Labiran said, “He was with me on Friday preceding the incident. He was with me till Saturday and on Monday, he called me via a video call when he was in Lagos at the building site. He was happy about the project when we spoke via phone video call.’’
On how the news was broken to his father, Labiran said when he heard the news, he knew Osibona was in the building having spoken with him a few hours before the incident.
He said, “Somebody in the area called to tell me about the incident. My first thought was to him. I called his younger brother who told me that he wasn’t there. I had to say that he was in the building because he spoke to me via video call as he entered the building. I did a follow-up and it was established that he was there. That was how I ascertained that he was in the building when it collapsed. We managed the news from the father for three days. Later, the news was broken to him.’’
Another uncle to Osibona, who is close to the bereaved father, Sola Shodiyan, said they disconnected the electrical board in the house to deny Osibona’s father access to a television because he loves listening to news and getting news updates on social media.
He stated, “We smartly collected his phone from him. The home help kept the phone for him and only brought it to him whenever he had a call. She collected it from him after he received a call to keep it until another call came in. Baba didn’t suspect that the lady was restricting his access to his phone. He complained that there was no electricity and asked us to make arrangements for him to have electricity. He told us to put on the generator for him. But we told him that it was faulty and that we had called a repairman who said he could only buy what got spoiled in it if he travelled to Lagos. Fortunately for us, the electricity distribution company didn’t even restore power. It was three days later that a call from someone disclosed what happened to him.
“When he asked to know what happened, we explained to him that Osibona’s building collapsed and that some people were trapped there. We explained further that he was in hiding because the government was looking for him and he would not be able to talk to him until much later.’’
He added, “He was disturbed that people were in the building when it collapsed. We assured him Osibona was not around. Then he said he trusted him to find a solution to the incident. He was sad over the incident. But on Thursday, when his body was recovered from the rubble, we started plans to break the news of Osibona’s death to him. They called the church reverend who broke the news to him. He just said it was God that gave him and he had taken him away. He stated that there was nothing he could do about the death, noting that he had no power over what God had done. We all tried to console him.’’
Condolences at Ikenne
Over 50 people have signed the condolence register when our correspondent visited the late Osibona father’s home.
One of the visitors, Dr Kayode Odubela, a younger brother to the late Commissioner for Education, Segun Odubela, described the late Osibona as a person imbued with a quest for excellence and large dreams.
Odubela noted that the late Osibona had a great impact on its generation and achieved greater things across the globe.
He added, “Femi Osibona intrigued a class that is far ahead of his generation. His quest for excellence and large dreams saw him achieving greater things across the globe especially in the property industry. He will be missed by all though death came in through the back door. He made his marks and affected his generation; may his soul rest in peace.”
Another visitor to the house, Alonge Michael, said he met the late Osibona but had no privilege to know him before his death. He noted, “I met you but didn’t have the honour to know you. RIP bro.”
Among those who visited were representatives of the Celestial Church of Christ Worldwide. Clad in white garments, members of the CCC numbering about 30 visited the family and held a prayer session with them before leaving.
After waiting for an hour for a meeting and praise worship, Shepherd, Celestial Church of Christ PraiseVille, Kunle Hamilton, described the late Osibona as a person passionate about God and humanity.
Hamilton noted that the late Osibona easily outshone everybody in giving by giving to every church irrespective of denomination.
He said, “Femi Osibona was a wonderful guy; a great friend, a great brother. He was extremely passionate about God and humanity. For all the people I have ever met in my lifetime, Femi Osibona easily outshone everybody in giving. He gave to churches across denominations; pentecostal, orthodox, and as a member of the Celestial Church of Christ, he was extremely passionate; he just wanted to see everyone grow. There is none who has met him that would not share the same testimony about him.”
Describing Osibona, Chairman, Remo Youth Association and the coordinator, National Youth Council, Ikenne Local government, Gboyega Odumosu, said the late Osibona always encouraged people to venture into entrepreneurship.
Odumosu said his dream to raise N200m empowerment fund for people in Ikenne had been shattered by death.
A classmate of the late Osibona, Femi Adeniyi, said the late businessman was a jolly good fellow. Adeniyi who said he joined Osibona in Mayflower Secondary School, Ikenne in 1986, said, “He was a philanthropist, cool headed guy and enterprising which he started from secondary by buying shirts and selling to classmates.’’
Earlier, Ogun State governor, Dapo Abiodun, paid a condolence visit to the Osibonas to commiserate with them. Our correspondent gathered that the governor who arrived in the Ikenne home of the Osibonas on Sunday had a private discussion with the father of the late businessman.
Shortly after the governor left the town, one of his aides released the picture he took with the aged man.
However, the governor on Monday, November 8, wrote on this Facebook page, “Last night, I paid a condolence visit to the Baba Ijo of Our Saviour’s Anglican Church, Ikenne, Chief Emmanuel Osibona, who is the father of the late Olufemi Adegoke Osibona. Mr Olufemi, who was the owner of Fourscore Homes, passed away, having been trapped in the collapsed 21-storey Ikoyi building.”
Some of the families of the workers who spoke with Sunday PUNCH last week, expressed grief that they were unaware their husbands were embarking on a journey of no return when they left home on November 1 to work at the site.
One of them, Kafayat, who is a mother of three, recalled that her husband left home around 5:30 am on that day, noting that he was handling a job at a construction site at Simawa, Ogun State, before he said a pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God, who was an engineer, told him that there was work at Ikoyi.
She had said, “That was why he returned home. He and some bricklayers which he contracted and the pastor went to the building site on Tuesday and returned on Saturday, He told me that they needed more workers as there were still many things to do at the site. On Sunday, he contacted the workers. On Monday, by 5:30am, he left and went to get the other workers at Jabutu with the bus he hired. He had been working as a bricklayer since 2005. So, it wasn’t the first time he and those guys worked together. But we didn’t know that it was the last time we would see some of them alive. I sell provisions at Jabutu. I called him after he got there. He promised to call back. I was still at my shop when the news got to me.’’
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr Gbenga Omotoso, stated that most of the bodies retrieved from the rubble were not recognisable except three.
Omotoso explained that only the faces of three of the bodies were clear, adding “It’s not all bodies that we can say people should come and see. Some people have seen the bodies of their loved ones there, but I’m telling you 90 per cent of them can’t be recognised.”
Source: The PUNCH