A five-storey building in Nigeria’s largest city, Lagos, collapsed on Tuesday, killing 34 people.

The fatal collapse happened after heavy rains in the early hours of Tuesday in the southeastern district of Lekki, home to some of the most expensive property in the city.

The Lagos State government has accused the building’s owners of being criminally responsible for the disaster.

A government statement said, “The collapsed building was served [a] contravention notice for exceeding the approved floors.”

The statement went on to say that “in a brazen act of defiance and impunity, the owners of the building, Messrs Lekki Worldwide Estate Limited, the promoters of Lekki Gardens, criminally unsealed the property and continued building beyond the approved floors until the unfortunate incident of Tuesday which has led to loss of lives.”

The Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, has since informed the directors of the company that they will be arrested if they fail to report to the state police.

A statement from the developer, Lekki Gardens, confirmed that construction on the building had ceased in January “over reported structural defects”. The statement, however, made no mention of work subsequently recommencing. It did add, however, that “Investigation is already under way to ascertain the identities of those affected as it is not company policy for site workers to take shelter in uncompleted buildings.”

The information commissioner for Lagos State, Steve Ayorinde, said, "The State Government will no longer tolerate the action(s) of unscrupulous owners and builders who challenge its supervisory control, thereby endangering the lives of Lagosians."
He added that the government had “directed the suspension of work at the site and ordered the Lagos State Police Command to cordon it off as it is now a crime scene."

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