By OLAKUNLE OLAFIOYE
THE Hausa community in Ikate, Lagos, has raised the alarm that more than 40 members of the community are still trapped under the rubble more than three days after rescue operations ended at the scene of the tragedy.
A five-storey building had collapsed in the early hours of last Tuesday in Lekki Phase 1 with scores of people believed to be workers of the construction firm handling the project, who were compelled by exigency to sleep over at the site, trapped.
Following the rescue operation launched immediately, six people were brought out alive while 18 were confirmed dead. By the time rescue operation was brought to an end on Wednesday night, the casualty figure had risen to 34 while 13 victims were rescued alive in the two-day operation.
But the leadership of Hausa community in the area told a Sunday Sun reporter that more than 40 members of the community were still missing, hours after rescue operations by government agencies ended, last Wednesday.
The Secretary of Ikate Hausa community, Mr. Awwal Hassan, said that over 50 members of the community were believed to have slept in the building on the eve of the day it collapsed.
The missing members of the community, according to Mr. Hassan, include: Abba Alli, Abdullahi Gambo, Yusuf Ali, Attom Abba, Saminu Umar, Idris Shafiu, Jamilu (surname unknown) Ahmed (surname unknown), Adamu Kada, Ali Kada, Ahmed Isyaku and Kingsley (surname unknown).
Others include Sabiu AbdulRasiqu, Yusuf Katsina, Abdullahi Katsina, Sunday Eze, Rafeal Eze, Uche Okoro, Onome, (surname not known) Omoba, Uche Okafor, Sulaimon and Femi Bamigboye.
Other missing persons include Lako, Mohammed, Yinka Oluleye, Kazeem Owolabi, Friday Eze, Okwonkwo Chika, Yusuf Zamu Gulak and Abdullahi Abba.
Hassan said that the community was able to identify some members of the community who died in the incident as well as those injured, adding that efforts were ongoing to get the corpses of the dead victims for burial.
“Four of the dead bodies recovered on Tuesday were those of our members. Additional six corpses were also recovered on Wednesday while few others survived with varied degrees of injuries. But as I’m talking to you, more than 40 of our people are still missing and we believe they are still trapped under the rubble.
“You see, when the building came down, the ground floor where most of the victims were sleeping sank deeper into the ground and buried many of them.
“So, we are sure that most of the missing people are still trapped in the rubble,” Hassan said.
Asked why names of other tribes were included on the list, Hassan said, “We know ourselves very well in this community. All the names we have here are names of people that lived and worked together with us in the community but whom have not been seen since the tragedy. We cannot just list the names of our people alone and pretend as if nothing has happened to other people because they are not members of our tribe,” he said.
He said the community would release names of other missing persons as soon as their statuses were verified.
Meanwhile, Sunday Sun gathered that a major crisis was averted, last Thursday morning, as aggrieved relatives and friends of some of the missing persons reportedly attempted to continue with the rescue operations.
“The people came with a view to seeing if the rescue operation would continue but when the government teams failed to show up, they decided to continue with the operations when it became clear that the teams would not come. But the security operatives guarding the site prevented them. That act almost led to a serious crisis but for the timely intervention of some community leaders,” an eyewitness who simply identified himself as Haruna told Sunday Sun.
The General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, Mr. Michael Akindele, in a telephone chat with Sunday Sun denied the claim that more people are still trapped in the debris. According to him, rescue operation ended at the scene of the tragedy by 7.20 pm on Wednesday after the rescue teams were satisfied that there were no victims left in the debris.