Building collapse: DMGS, Church lawyers reject Panel Chairman, COREN Chief for bias


By Tony Okafor, Awka

The legal team representing Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS), Onitsha, Anambra State, and the Diocese on the Niger has rejected two members of the panel investigating the recent collapse of the Centenary Building at DMGS.

Prof. Akaolisa Ezeagu, the panel chairman, and Engr. Sir Victor Meju, a key member, are accused of making biased comments and publications following the incident.

The lawyers have called on the Anambra State Governor, Prof Chukwuma Soludo,to remove the duo from the panel, citing a clear demonstration of bias.

Sir Oselloka Offoh, Director of Communications for the Diocese, disclosed this in a statement made available to our correspondent, revealing that a letter had been sent to the Governor on behalf of the DMGS Old Boys and the Diocese.

The building collapse, which occurred some days back resulted in about three casualties and raised concerns about the structural integrity of the school’s infrastructure.

Offor said in a letter sent to the Governor on behalf of the DMGS Old Boys and Diocese on the Niger, a team of legal Practitioners led by Barrister Nnamdi Ibegbu, Senior Advocate of Nigeria SAN, expressed worry that the public and the Diocese might not get a fair hearing with these persons who had demonstrated manifest bias and unprofessionalism on the matter being members of the panel.

According to Offor, the Legal Team cited the Sun Newspaper of 16th June 2024, under the column, Voice of the Nation- with heading “No Approval Given For The Collapsed Onitsha School Building-NBRRI” where Prof Akaolisa Ezeagu made comments and came to the conclusion publicly that there was no authorization from any quarters before the gigantic structure was erected.

The statement read in part,”The Prof had also in the same news publication even before the commencement of investigations attributed the collapse to the foundation, which he claimed was as a result of disconnect between the building team and the Technical Engineer. Prof Ezeagu also in the same publication erroneously stated that preliminary investigation points to foundation problem.

“The Legal Team for the DMGS and Niger Diocese further cited the Punch Newspaper of 14th June 2024 with headline ” Three More Victims Rescued from Anambra Collapsed Building As Probe Begins” Engr. Sir Victor Meju, a Mechanical Engineer, and Chairman COREN, Anambra State Chapter, in the Newspaper stated that the collapse could be traced to a faulty Foundation and substandard materials used for construction.

“He went further to state that the approval was given for a two- storey building, but that our clients decided to add more floors to it.
“The Legal Team told the Governor that the two persons, Prof Akaolisa Ezeagu and Engr. Sir Victor Meju have acted unprofessionally and that it is doubtful that they will give unbiased decision in the panel.

“The Legal Team pleaded with the Governor most respectfully to withdraw the two persons from the panel or in the alternative the two persons be allowed to honorable recuse themselves from the panel, so that Natural Justice, Equity, Good Conscience and Fairness shall prevail in the deliberation and report of the panel.

“They however commended the Governor for setting up the Panel of Enquiry to investigate the immediate and remote causes of building collapses in parts of the state.
The Legal Team believes that this laudable initiative by the Governor Wil help to ensure utmost professionalism in the construction sector

The panel was set up by the state government to investigate the incident and recommend measures to prevent similar occurrences in the future.

The Governor’s office has yet to respond to the lawyers’ demands.

By Ifeizu Joe

Ifeizu is a seasoned journalist and Managing Editor of TheRazor. He has wide knowledge of Anambra State and has reported the state objectively for over a decade.

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