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Ibadan building collapse survivor: We were buried for six hours

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By Ola Ajayi and Adeola Badru

A day after rescue efforts at the site of a collapsed three-storey building at Sogoye, Idi-Arere, Ibadan ended, survivors narrated their ordeal. The survivors include Femi Fatiregun, Ismaila Segun and Musa Yakubu. No deaths were recorded as all eight construction workers at the site were rescued alive.

Ibadan building collapse survivor
Narrating his ordeal, Fatiregun said that after the sharp crack on the wall, he wanted to look closely at it, as it was an abnormal crack, before the ground he was standing caved in.

“My spirit told me this wasn’t normal but in a twinkling of an eye, everything blacked out. When I woke up, I saw that everywhere was dark. There was no breathing space whatsoever, there was no light,” he said.

Buried under the ruins for about six hours, the young man hovered between life and death throughout that period, not knowing on which side he would end after all.
“It was as if I was rescued from the grip of a lion when I was eventually brought out. I saw death but God gave me a second chance to live. I never thought I would be alive to tell my story,” he said.

“I could not do anything at the moment since the building had already collapsed. Underneath the collapsed building were two benches which I laid on for almost six hours.
“I was still under the debris when I received a call from my friend whom I explained the situation to and sought his help to notify people around on how to rescue us.

“I did not feel any heat at all. If I had been underneath till this moment, I would have been okay. I summoned courage immediately the incident happened, believing that God was there for us.

“It was not by our power, but just to make us realise that God exists. This is my sixth year of working in Ibadan.”

He explained that the quality and quantity of materials used for the building were sufficient enough in accordance with approved building regulations.

Segun, a bricklayer, receiving treatment at the University College Hospital, UCH, Ibadan, said, agonisingly, as he narrated his ordeal on his hospital bed that he was at the site of the incident to collect money for a work done on another site.

“I have finished the work given to me on another site at Odo-Ana Elewe, Ibadan and my boss asked me to come for the money at the other site located at Sogoye where the incident occurred”, he said.

“I was at the site, sweeping when the building suddenly collapsed. I was on my knees since that time till escavators were brought to rescue us from the debris.

“The building suddenly came down, everywhere became dark. For four hours, my two legs were trapped in the rubble, I couldn’t move them. I was in serious pain and thought I would die. After several hours, I heard sounds of people breaking concrete to rescue us.”

A senior medical officer at the emergency department of UCH, Dr. Ekunola Kayode, said the survivor was brought to the hospital from the collapsed building site.

“The victim, on arrival, complained of severe waist pain and we were able to resuscitate him,”Kayode said.

“I can tell you that the victim is recuperating very fast and I am very sure he will be fine by the grace of God.”
On his part, Yakubu, an iron bender, narrated how he was rescued from the rubbles, saying he first heard a strange sound before the building came down.

Yakubu, who spoke at the scene of the incident, said it was God that made him escape death by the whiskers.

He said, “Eight people were up and a bricklayer was on the ground floor making nine of us. The reason I came this morning was to know whether the engineer had come or not. The engineer was outside when the thing happened. He didn’t climb up, he just stood beside the building”.

The survivor also hinted how he called the attention of the site engineer to some faulty parts of the shopping complex that he and other workers were working on.

“Three pillars were condemned. We told him we wanted to leave the work because of the condemned pillars, but he told us to continue, he said nothing would happen. He saw the three pillars, and he insisted that nothing would happen.

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Those of us on top of the building said we would stop working and we came down. The engineer persuaded us again to go back to work, that there was no cause for alarm”, Yakubu stated.

“We waited for five minutes, they later told us to go back that they would find solution. We were up there, busy with our work. Then, we started hearing the building making sound till it came down. Before we knew it, we found ourselves on the ground. Some of my co-workers had fainted. I was one of those on the topmost floor, it was by God’s grace that we escaped death.”

“All the pillars had problems but they just kept patching them up. When they started the casting, three pillars had problems at the same time, they started showing signs that they would break. The sand of the pillars started falling off. But they said nothing would happen. If we had stopped working, they would say we didn’t want to work. That was why we went back to work and, eventually, the building collapsed. Some persons brought excavators to excavate them.

“The engineer is not resident in Ibadan, He ran away after the incident. We saw the thing around 4pm, so around 5:30pm, the building collapsed. God spared us, people came to carry two of us to the hospital. I was treated at the hospital.”

Last two survivors rescued midnight

The last two victims who were trapped under the rubbles were rescued midnight by a team comprising members of the National Emergency Agency, Oyo State Fire Brigade, policemen and Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.

This was disclosed by one of the members of NEMA who preferred anonymity. He said the large crowd that thronged the place actually hindered rescue efforts. “We were here till 2am when the last two people under the rubbles were rescued and taken to the hospital”, he said.

An eyewitness who identified himself as Adeleke Kehinde said about eight people were there working when the building collapsed. “All of them have been rescued by security agents. What we noticed about the construction is that the construction was too fast. After casting pillars, they were supposed to allow it to dry up before continuing. They were just building more and more on it. They started the construction in January and it is a two-storey building. See the pillars, they were not strong enough. They wanted to use it as a shopping complex.”

Engr Sam Adeleke, the Chief Inspection Team, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria(COREN), said his team, comprising members of the Nigeria Institute of Architects, and NEMA had begun investigation into the incident.

“We have commenced investigation. We will leave here for now. So far, no life was lost and there is nobody under the ground. We want to go and gather more information from people living around here”, he said.

Also at the scene was the Oyo State Chairman of the Nigeria Institute of Architects, Architect Bode Gbolade, who said emphatically that there was no professional involved in the construction of the building.

When told that one of the workers insisted that an engineer was involved, he noted, “The title engineer is one title that has been bastardised . The way the reinforcement came down showed that professionals were not involved. As far as we are concerned, anyone who is not licensed is a quack. We pray we don’t have more of this. And until we do the needful, disasters are still waiting to happen”.

At Molete Medical Centre where some of the survivors were rushed to, the matron on duty, who preferred anonymity, confirmed that two people were rushed to the hospital around on Friday. She gave their names as Adeoye Akeem and Oladepo Tunde.

“Both of them were treated.Adeoye had some bruises on his arms while Oladepo had leg injury. They were discharged after the treatment. But we advised Oladepo to go for x-ray on his right leg,” she said.

Onitiri commiserates with affected families
Meanwhile, Chief Adesunbo Onitiri, Lagos Central senatorial candidate of the PDP, has commiserated with the parents and families of children and residents who lost their lives in the collapsed building that occurred in Ita Faji area of Lagos on Wednesday.

In a statement in Lagos yesterday, Onitiri described the incident as highly regrettable and a big disaster to the entire people of Lagos. “I sympathize with all Lagosians particularly Lagos Island residents over the death of innocent people in the building collapse,”he said.

“The death was avoidable if Lagos State government had done due diligence of evacuating the people and re-settling them in alternative accommodation.

“May the souls of our dearly beloved trapped in the unfortunate incident rest in peace. Onitiri called on the state government to immediately commence building of low cost houses to accommodate low income families.

“Government erecting housing scheme for the rich must stop. The role of government is to provide accommodation for our low income people. Government has no role in profiteering on housing scheme or building houses for the rich. The rich can provide homes for themselves”.
Onitiri recalled that the only regime that provided accommodation for low income was that of Alhaji L K Jakande.

“I urge Lagos state government to immediately resettle families of those affected in the tragic incident and also take care of their medical bills”, he added.

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