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Saturday, 12 March 2016

Lagos building collapse:
Court remands Lekki Gardens Boss, Richard Nyong for 30 days Over death of 34 People

An Ebute-Metta Chief Magistrate Court yesterday ordered the Lagos State Police Command to keep in its custody for the next 30 days, the Managing Director of Lekki Gardens, Richard Nyong, and one of the contractors handling the five-storey building that collapsed in Lagos early Tuesday, Odofin Taiwo Henry.
The accident claimed thirty-five lives.
The court order was at the request of the Police to enable them conclude ongoing investigation into the collapse of the building under construction on Kushenla Road, Ikate Elegushi.
Magistrate Folashade Botoku, who granted the remand order, said it was in the interest of justice and public safety.
The building crumbled at about 3:00 a.m. on Tuesday with many workers trapped in the rubble.
When the case was called, police prosecutor, Godwin Osuji informed Magistrate Botoku of an ex-parte application seeking to remand the defendants beyond the constitutionally prescribed period, saying the application was brought in the interest of justice, public safety, public order and morality.
He noted that in view of the circumstances of the case, it was impossible for the police to conclude the investigation within two days, hence the need for the application.
Osuji said that 24 bodies were recovered from the scene of the incident as at Thursday.
He added that some of the relatives of the victims were still making efforts to identify their dead bodies, while autopsy is yet to be conducted.
He said: “In view of the circumstances of this matter, it will be impracticable for us to conclude investigation in two days as there are so many agencies involved and so we have come to court in order not to run foul of the law.”
He, therefore, urged the court to grant the request to keep the defendants in custody of the Police Criminal Investigation Department pending conclusion of investigation.
Responding, counsel to the defendants, Bode Olanipekun orally applied for the bail of his clients. In the alternative, Olanipekun urged the court to order that the police release his clients but that they should make themselves available to police when needed.
In response, Osuji said it was trite law that an application for bail could only be filed after the defendants must have been arraigned on a criminal charge.
At the moment, he said, the police were yet to file any charge against the defendants and as such the application for bail was not yet ripe.
In her ruling, Magistrate Botoku ruled that under Section 264 (1) of the Lagos State Administration of Criminal Justice Act, 2011, she was empowered to order the remand of a defendant as in the instant case, but that the major consideration was the justification of such application.
She held that having gone through the facts of the case, it was in the interest of justice for the application to be granted, as there was merit in it.
Magistrate Botoku therefore ordered the defendants to be kept at the Criminal Investigation Department Panti for 30 days at first instance, subject to variation upon further applications.
The matter was consequently adjourned to April 12.

Culled from thenation

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