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Ikoyi building: Families storm Lagos morgue, identify corpses

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• Tinubu, Nasarawa gov visit site

Emotions ran high on Saturday as families of those who died in the 21-storey building collapse on Gerrard Road, Ikoyi, Lagos, besieged Lagos Mainland Hospital morgue in the Yaba area of the state to identify corpses of their loved ones.

Punch reported that its correspondent, who visited the mortuary on Saturday afternoon, observed a mix of emotions steeped in tears, grief and anger as families went into the mortuary premises.

The skyscraper owned by Fourscore Heights Limited collapsed on Monday, trapping over 50 persons, including the firm’s Managing Director, Osibona, his friend, Wale Bob-Oseni, and personal assistant, Oyinye Enekwe.

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Other deceased persons included a corps member identified as Oyindamola, an aluminium installer, his partner, Kenneth Otu, an engineer and pastor at Redeemed Christian Church of God, Living Water Parish, Ibafo, Ogun State, Ola Ogunfunwa, among others.

However, nine persons survived the incident with three of them treated and discharged from the Lagos Island General Hospital. The six others admitted are Nurudeen Solagbade, Timileyin Oduntan, Waliu Lateef, Ahmed Kinleku (a Benin Republic national), Sunday Monday and Adeniran Mayowa.

Six more survivors located in Lagos hospital

It was said that six more survivors taken to another hospital were discovered on Saturday.  Some of the survivors’ near-death experience under the rubble had been reported by  Sunday PUNCH.

On Saturday, many affected family members visited Lagos Mainland Hospital morgue to find out if their loved ones were among the corpses recovered so far.

They sat under two canopies mounted on the premises as a female attendant called them one after the other into an office from where they were led to the morgue for identification.

“The most recent picture of the missing person and a photocopy of the identity card of his/her blood relation are required,” the attendant announced. “You will then be called in to identify the body but you have to be strong,” she advised.

Otu’s sister, who declined to give her name, broke down in tears as she came out of the office. Flanked by four relations, she was consoled and led out of the premises.

“I have seen his corpse. They said they would contact us to collect it as soon as the governor gives approval,” she told Sunday PUNCH briefly, fighting back tears.

Shortly after, another bereaved family member surfaced from the office, looking downcast. He held his head in distraught, nodding dejectedly as he walked out of the premises together with his relations.

After a while, a light-complexioned woman in a white gown stormed out of the office, holding a piece of paper containing a female photograph.

“Let’s go,” she yelled, beckoning at a family member who had also stepped out of the room.

“They said we should bring her photograph. We went to a business centre to do a printout containing her picture and brought it only for them to say it has to be a hard copy,” the family member explained to some policemen who approached him to find out what was wrong. “Are we happy to be coming here?” the man fumed.

They returned to the office about 30 minutes later to identify their relation’s corpse. The woman emerged from the office afterwards sobbing as she was led out of the facility.

Also, a middle-aged man donning a blue native dress headed to an office inside the mortuary visibly angry. He initially shunned entreaties when some attendants tried to direct him to “the appropriate section.”

He was eventually led to where he checked his relation’s corpse. Minutes later, he came out with a frown, snapping his fingers. A family member quickly walked up to him and parted him on the back.

“It’s okay. I will be fine,” the bereaved man murmured as they both left the facility in tears.

Meanwhile, a crisis is brewing in the Osibona family as his wife and relations are reportedly fighting over the ownership of his property.

It was gathered that the wife, who flew in from the United States of America following the death of her husband, was denied access to the Ikoyi residence of the late developer by his siblings.

Osibona’s wife and siblings were said to have arrived at his residence with mobile policemen to lay claim to his assets, including luxury vehicles, cash, and other valuable items.

But the late developer’s neighbours were said to have shut them out to avoid being caught up in the crisis.

A reliable source close to the family, who confirmed the clash to one of our correspondents, said though the deceased did not die intestate, his family members fought over his assets.

The source said, “There is big fighting going on. The wife had been mostly abroad. There is a will but once a man dies, there is a problem. Instead of them (the family) to focus on the collapsed building, they are looking at the property (on Mosley Road). They are waiting to gain access (to the apartment); they are still there.”

Giving an update on the tragedy on Saturday, the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, disclosed that 42 bodies had been recovered from the site as of 6pm.

The governor in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Gboyega Alaka, also stated that six additional persons rescued from the debris had been traced to another hospital.

He said, “They were taken to the Police Hospital in Falomo for treatment and some of them have been discharged. We have taken the full records of survivors in the incident. And this gives a total of 15 people rescued alive.

“Among the latest survivors are a 38-year-old woman, Glory Samson, Ndajor Ahmed, Yunusa Abubakar, Ajiboye Habib, Jeremiah Samson, and one man identified as Emem. While most of them sustained varying degrees of injury, Samson, 20, is said to be in a coma.”

The governor also said 49 families had filled the missing persons’ register as of Saturday morning, adding that DNA examination was being undertaken on some of the bodies difficult to be identified by their families.

He stated, “There is a sum of money that has been reserved by the state government for succour and to give for befitting burial for those who died in the incident. Families that wish to accept it are being supported for the burial arrangement. Also, survivors in hospitals have been given the financial support to help them settle and cope with challenges of feeding in the aftermath of the incident.”

The All Progressives Congress National Leader, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, and the Nasarawa State Governor, Abdullahi Sule, also visited the scene of the incident on Saturday in company with Sanwo-Olu.

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No part of Lagos is under any lockdown – Lagos police

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The Lagos State Police Command has denied reports that some parts of the state is under a partial lockdown as a preventive measure against security threats.

Spokesman for the command, Benjamin Hundeyin, stated this in a series of tweets on Thursday in a reaction emanating from a Wednesday’s statement credited to the state’s Commissioner of Police, Abiodun Alabi.

Alabi was on Wednesday reported to have said that there was a partial lockdown of the state by security agencies due to the threats of attacks by unknown gunmen.

He was claimed to have said this in Lagos during the state stakeholders’ forum on police accountability quarterly meeting and awards.

But the state PPRO Hundeyin in a response via Twitter said, “@LagosPoliceNG Commissioner of Police, CP Abiodun Alabi, fdc only affirmed that entry and exit points are being closely monitored by security agencies to forestall any security breach in the state.

“He gave this assurance while answering a question bothering on police stop-and-search in some parts of Lagos State. NO PART OF LAGOS IS ON LOCKDOWN, PARTIAL OR TOTAL.

“All residents of Lagos State are enjoined to go about their lawful duties without fear; while remaining vigilant and observing situational awareness at all times.”

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Man ‘Selling Hard Drugs on Jiji’ Arrested in Abuja

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Orakwe Chibuike Celestine

Orakwe Chibuike Celestine, the MD/CEO of Marvelrock Pharmaceuticals and Stores Ltd., has been arrested by the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) for selling illicit and controlled drugs on jiji.ng, a popular e-commerce platform.

The arrest was made known in a statement by Femi Babafemi, the NDLEA’s director of media and advocacy, on Wednesday.

Orakwe, a University of Abuja graduate, registered the pharmaceutical company on December 16, 2014, with the certificate and support of a licensed pharmacist, who opted out of the deal in 2017, according to Babafemi.

“The suspect continued running the business and enrolled it on Jiji.ng platform in 2019. He, however, came under NDLEA’s radar in October 2021 when he advertised many pharmaceutical products such as Tramadol, Ketamine Hydrochloride injection, and Hypnox flunitrazepam tablets, among others, on the Jiji.ng online marketplace,” Babafemi said.

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“Between 26th October 2021 and 8th August 2022, the team of anti-narcotic officers assigned to investigate Orakwe’s drug business activities was able to establish the suspect was selling Tramadol 225mg and other illicit/controlled drugs through the e-commerce platform.

“As a result, the suspect was arrested with some quantities of Tramadol and Swiphnol brand of Rohypnol on Monday 8th August at a drink joint in Jabi area of Abuja where he had gone to make some supplies of orders made through his online channel on Jiji.ng.”

While reacting to the development, Mohammed Marwa, the NDLEA chairman, said the “painstaking investigation and process of arresting the businessman” should send a strong message to those hiding behind the internet to engage in marketing and selling of illicit/controlled drugs.

“The agency will definitely get them to face the consequences of their action,” he said.

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3 Nigerians ‘Steal’ Over $5m From US Universities

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The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has accused three Nigerians living in the United Kingdom of defrauding universities, individuals and companies in the United States of over $5 million.

According to a statement obtained from the US Department of Justice, the FBI extradited Oludayo Kolawole John Adeagbo, Donald Ikenna Echeazu and Olabanji Egbinola to the US from the United Kingdom on August 10.

The three Nigerians allegedly swindled universities and companies in North Carolina, Texas and Virginia out of millions of dollars between 2016 and 2018.

Adeagbo and Echeazu are charged with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy and aggravated identity theft for defrauding a North Carolina university of more than $1.9 million via a business email compromise scheme.

“According to allegations contained in the indictment, from August 30, 2016, to January 12, 2017, Adeagbo and Echeazu conspired with other individuals to obtain information about significant construction projects occurring throughout the United States, including an ongoing multi-million-dollar project at the victim University,” the statement read in part.

“To execute the scheme, the defendants (Adeagbo and Echeazu) allegedly registered a domain name similar to that of the legitimate construction company in charge of the University’s project and created an email address that closely resembled that of an employee of the construction company.

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“Using the fake email address, the co-conspirators allegedly deceived and directed the University to wire a payment of more than $1.9 million to a bank account controlled by an individual working under the direction of defendants. Upon receiving the payment, the co-conspirators allegedly laundered the stolen proceeds through a series of financial transactions designed to conceal the fraud.”

Adeagbo also conspired with others to defraud individuals, local governments and a college in Houston, Texas.

Between November 2016 and July 2018, Adeagbo allegedly conspired with others to take part in cyber-enabled business email compromises to steal more than $3 million from victims in Texas. Adeagbo targeted local government entities, construction companies and a Houston-area college, among others.

He and his co-conspirators registered domain names that looked similar to legitimate companies. They then sent emails from those domains, pretending to be employees at those companies, according to the charges. Adeagbo and his co-conspirators deceived those customers into sending wire payments to bank accounts they controlled.

The Eastern District of Virginia is charging Egbinola with wire fraud and money laundering.

According to a criminal complaint issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, from September 26, 2018, to December 26, 2018, Egbinola allegedly conspired with others to defraud a Virginia-based university.

Egbinola and co-conspirators created and used a fraudulent email account that incorporated the name of a construction company that had a large ongoing contract with the university. Using this email account, Egbinola and co-conspirators deceived the university into transferring $469,819.49 to a bank account they controlled. The money was quickly laundered and transferred overseas through numerous transactions.

FBI investigation showed that Egbinola repeatedly accessed the email account used to defraud the Virginia university.

UK authorities arrested Adeagbo, Echeazu and Egbinola on April 23, 2020. The US ordered their extradition in September 2021. The three filled appeals, but the UK High Court rejected them on July 12, 2022.

Echeazu and Egbinola face up to 20 years in prison if convicted for their crimes, while Adeagbo faces up to 40 years if convicted for his crimes perpetrated in North Carolina and Texas.

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