Lagos arraigns Lekki Gardens MD, others for manslaughter

MD, Lekki Gardens Estate, Mr. Richard Nyong (right), with his lawyer after his arraignment yesterday.

The Lagos State government yesterday arraigned the Managing Director of Lekki Gardens Estate Limited, Mr. Richard Nyong, before a Lagos High Court in Igbosere over alleged complicity in the events leading to the collapse of a building in Lekki area of the state on March 10, 2016.

Nyong was arraigned alongside others before Justice Sybil Nwaka over alleged negligence resulting in the collapse of the building, which reportedly killed 34 people. Other defendants are Lekki Gardens’ Executive Director, Mr. Sola Olumofe; the firm’s contractor, Odofin Henry Taiwo; Omolabake Mortune, Omotilewa Oluwatosin Joseph, Lekki Gardens, Get Too Rich Investment Limited and HC Insight Solution Limited.

Before the arraignment of the defendants, Justice Nwaka had ruled on an application contending the suitability of the criminal charges against the defendants on the ground that there was no seal of the counsel to the prosecution on the information as required.

After the charges were read to them, the defendants pleaded not guilty, while their lawyers including Bode Olanipekun and George Oguntade (SAN) urged the court to allow the defendants to continue enjoying the previous bail granted to them.

In response, the prosecution, led by the Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, said in as much as the court was now seized of the matter, it was important for conditions that would ensure the presence of the defendants for trial to be imposed.

In her ruling, Justice Nwaka ruled that the defendants except the second defendant (Olumofe) should continue enjoying their formal bail conditions, but added that they should deposit their international passports with the court.

Tragedy had struck on March 10, 2016 when a six-storey building under construction by Lekki Gardens in Lekki collapsed and killed 34 people. The developer was said to have added additional floor to the building against what was approved by government for construction.

Specifically, the defendants are facing six-count charge for failure to obtain building approval for the collapsed building and involuntary manslaughter, offences contrary to and punishable under Section 75 (1) of the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law of Lagos State 2010, and Section 229 of Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2015 respectively.

The matter has been adjourned to October 26 and 30, 2017 for definite hearing.

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