TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt
Rivers State Ministry of Urban Development and Physical Planning has declared that there are no official documents and files in its disposal with respect to the seven-storey building that collapsed in Port Harcourt, on November 28, killing 17 persons.
Also, the ministry said that it did not approve the building of any seven-storey building in 2014, adding that the signatures on the purported building plan of the structure presented to it were cloned and forged.
The revelation was made by the directors and other officials of the ministry, in charge of building and renovation of projects in the state, when they appeared before the commission chaired by Justice Adolphus Enebeli, which was constituted by the state government to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the collapsed building.
The Commissioner for Urban Development and Physical Planning, Dr. Reason Onya, who in the wake of the collapsed building stepped aside, had earlier informed the commission that there was no file or document in the ministry relating to the building.
Onya disclosed that the said building was discovered by his men who were on duty, adding that when the team returned to search the files for documents relating to the building , it could not see anything.
He also alleged that the developers had given the building plan and other documents to the ministry claiming that the building was registered, adding that when the ministry could not argue against that, the documents were re validated.
Also, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Employment Generation and Economic Empowerment, Mr. Lawson Ikuru, in his testimony, stated that the Ministry of Building and Planning did not approve the building of a seven-storey building in 2014.
Lawson, who was then the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development and Regional Planning, denied that the ministry approved the building of the structure, pointing out that within his period (2013 to 2015), he did not approve the building of any such structure in the state.
He noted that within the period, the ministry only approved a four-storey building, adding that the issue of the actual plan came to his notice after the building collapsed.
Similarly, the former director in the ministry, Mr. Azubuike Nweye, said the building documents were forged, adding that his signature on the plan was cloned.
Nweye told the commission that when the signature for approval of the building was given, he was not in service, noting that he was on retirement and only came back some months later on contract basis.