space of seconds, but she kept sobbing. Mrs. Suliat Kaffo, 46, has
remained inconsolable since she lost her husband, 49-year-old Babatunde,
to the building that collapsed on Carrera Street in Lagos Island on
neighbours, friends and other sympathisers who had come to console her
for her loss, Suliat, a mother of three, still could not put the events
of that day behind her.
event particularly painful for her was that her husband was sick and
was in bed when the incident happened. Even if he were to escape, his
ill health was a barrier, thus, he was crushed to death.
on Friday morning, one of her immediate concerns at the moment now
transcends mourning her late husband, to include how to make her three
children accept the fact that they would never see their father again.
their father. One of them has been saying I should take him to his dad,”
she said amidst tears.
for their father. They are aged 12, 10 and five respectively, but they
all stood vigilant and were praying that their father should be brought
out alive, but he didn’t make it. Till now, I’m grateful my children
went for lesson that day, else, they would have been with him because he
was fond of them. What would have become of me?”
late husband, was planning to mark his next birthday when he would have
clocked 50 if he were alive.
“The previous night; that was between Monday night and Tuesday morning,
in the midnight, I woke up around 2am to give him his drugs and ensure
he was okay, because he was sick. Shortly after, I was about going back
to bed, I heard rubbles and the house shook.
first time such was happening. We started praying and then we went back
to sleep. It was later we got to know that people on the ground floor
also felt it.”
them, perhaps they would have vacated the premises, but they didn’t, and
so they went about their activities.
which was the following morning, I was in the shop, which is not far
from the house. Given that he was sick, I went home to prepare food for
him around 12pm. He asked after his children and I told him they had
gone for extra lesson.
wanted to go and have my bath upstairs, but my younger sister who was
around advised me to finish cooking before I did that, so I stayed.
Shortly after, my first child came back from lesson and said he was
hungry, so I told him to go and buy gas. As he left, few metres away,
the building came down. It happened at exactly 1:37pm.”
Management Agency said eight people lost their lives to the incident and
that 15 were rescued alive, the sympathisers said they believed that
some persons were still trapped under the rubbles. The 24-year-old
building had 22 rooms.
the ground floor of the house, eating when the building collapsed.
“There was also another Igbo man who used to sell food items. He
survived but we heard one of his legs had been amputated,” one of them
collapse of the three-storeyed building, Suliat said the building was
built by a developer, who was expected to transfer the property to her
father-in-law who resides abroad.
dilapidation and that the situation got worse when a mini-mast was
installed on the pent house. Thus, the building caved in two weeks
because he fought for the renovation of that house. If he were alive, we
would have a better story to share, but now he’s gone. The matter was
previously in court and the court ruled that they should renovate the
house, but no major renovation was done.
significant was done, he went to report at the Lagos Island East Local
Government Area. They promised to come and shut the house because it was
evident that the house was distressed but they never came.
the representative of the developer, Mr. Balogun aka Coaster, brought
people who installed the mini-mast on the building. Now that the tragedy
happened, we learnt he has run to Ghana and his number is no longer
made efforts to stop them, Coaster allegedly went to Lion Building to
report, which led to the arrest and detention of her brother-in-law, who
was instructed to sign an undertaking never to interfere with whatever
the developer wanted to do in the house.
supporting base for the mini-mast, they lied that it was to erect
borehole. People went to complain to the lawyer in charge of the
property, but he told them to calm down. They even brought a white man.
It collapsed just two weeks after they finished the installation. If
government does nothing about this incident, by arresting and
prosecuting Coaster, my husband would die in vain.”
and his brother, who had come to visit the deceased on the sick bed,
were seen holding each other’s hand when they were found under the
rubbles. The brother survived and is in the hospital, while Babatunde
couldn’t make it. “If government fails to act, my husband would rise to
fight for himself,” she added.
everything but for her children. “As I’m speaking to you, all the
clothes I’m putting on were donations from people. Same thing for my
children,” she added.
able to retrieve his mobile phone which he held in his hand when he was
found under the rubbles, and that people had been calling him to find
out from him what happened, not knowing he was also a victim.
waiting for the agreement to lapse next year so he could manage the
property very well. We were planning his 50th birthday. We never knew he
wouldn’t be alive to celebrate it. The children have been crying and we
have not been able to sleep.”
Suliat and her three children squat in the neighbourhood, with no idea
of where help could come from. “All I’m wearing is all I have,
government should help us,” she added.