Owner of the eight-storey building which collapsed in Owerri, Imo State, Mr. Victor Chinedu Anujuru says the purported sealing and take-over of his property by the state government was totally unfair.
Anujuru, who spoke through his lawyer, Chief Soronnadi Njoku in Owerri described himself as the victim rather than a villain in the matter.
Chief Njoku submitted that his client was not given fair hearing by government.
According to him, his client, who is based in Paris, France had urged government to constitute a Judicial Commission of Inquiry which would establish the remote and immediate causes of the collapse of the building.
He maintained that a neutral, objective and impartial Commission of Inquiry would provide a conducive ambience for all concerned; architects, builders, structural engineers, quantity surveyors, his clients or his representatives and government to identify the facts, sieve those facts and draw conclusion as to what caused the collapse of the building.
The former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in the state disclosed that the legal team wrote to the governor and relevant agencies indicating interest to participate in the investigation and offer explanations that might be required from him.
He regretted that apart from the state House of Assembly, no other agency contacted them for any questioning and clarifications, adding that they have not finished making their representation to the House of Assembly before the news that government had sealed the site and is mooting compulsory acquisition.
Njoku argued that his client is not a professional in any area of building, but engaged professionals in all segments to handle the building.
He added that the plan of the building was approved by Owerri Capital Development Authority (OCDA) for seven floor and a pent house, the only variation being that his client agreed with the team of professionals handling the building to convert the pent house into a floor, deck it and use the deck as platform for his solar panels.
Njoku said; “The contention of the owner of the building is that, rather than looking at him as a villain, government ought to look at him as a victim of the unprofessionalism of the supposed experts he contracted to handle the building for him.
“We know that there is no existing law in Imo State stipulating that owner of a collapsed building should forfeit the site to government.
“So far nobody has found our client guilty of any offence or liable for negligence. Going to the point of threatening to seize his land and compulsorily acquire it without first hearing from him and without any liability paid to him, to us is a bit punitive and to the extreme and I am sure that when it is communicated to him, he will know what to do”.