George Onyejiuwa, Owerri
The owner of a collapsed eight-storey hotel structure under construction in Owerri, Mr Chinedu Victor Anujuru has called for the institution of a judicial panel of Inquiry to determine the remote and immediate cause of the collapse.
Mr Anujuru, who is based in Paris, France, disclosed that the Owerri Capital Development Authority had on the April 17th, 2019, approved seven-storeys and a penthouse contrary to insinuations that the approving authority had only approved six-storeys and a penthouse.
Anujuru, who regretted the loss of lives, condoled with the families of the bereaved and those who had sustained various injuries due to the incident.
Anujuru, who spoke through his counsel, former Imo State Attorney-General Mr Soronnadi Njoku, at a press conference in Owerri on Thursday, called for the setting up of a panel of Inquiry to unearth the real cause of the collapse of the hotel project.
Nnadi said that a hasty decision should not be taken by the Imo State Government, making reference to the purported revocation of the Certificate of Occupancy, which would amount to penalising the owner of the building who has invested about N 4.8 billion as his own contribution towards job creation and economic growth in his home state.
According to him, “our client is very worried that some utterances by some people, including the purported interim report by the Nigerian Institute of Architects, appear to be highly prejudicial to a fair, impartial and objective determination of the very important question: ‘why did the building collapse? Our client, being the owner of the collapsed building, is a principal participant in this unfortunate development and it is both wrong, unfair and unjust to arrive at conclusions, pass judgement and or take decisions without hearing from him. It is important to note that he objects strongly to certain utterances and actions of some individuals who appear to cash in on this misfortune for their own selfish ends.
Nnadi added: “We call on the Imo State Government to immediately set up a judicial panel of inquiry because it will have the powers to subpoena and compel the attendance of witnesses, order the production of documents, issue warrants and summons but, above all, create the enabling environment for all the persons involved, including our client, to be given a fair hearing before the Government can then take well-informed decisions on the issues.”
The erstwhile Attorney-General maintained that the collapse of the building should not be swept under the rug to guard against such occurrences in the future.