One of my neighbours cheated death but the developer’s wife, whose 9-year-old dog, Lucky, died buried deep in the rubble, seemed more concerned about two other things.
She was worried someone called 112.
“I heard you’re a pressman,” she told me and asked “did you put it on air because they told me it’s now on radio?”
Yes. Seriously. This woman, and her husband, could’ve had a dead man on her hands and her dog just died but she’s worried about LASEMA’s presence. And she’s not happy the incident turned radio news.
Around 5:30am yesterday, I heard what sounded like heavy rain and thunder but it didn’t last more than three seconds. I still can’t tell if it was the sound that woke me. It was loud.
During the brief quiet interlude, it dawned on me something terrible must have happened. Then I heard another noise. This time my neighbours were shouting the name of another neighbour at the top of their lungs.
“Igwe! Igwe! Igwe! Igwe!”
That woman and her developer husband are not in police net probably because my neighbour lived to tell the story — a miraculous tale.
“I didn’t see it coming,” Igwe told me.
“A vibration moved my bed to another end of the room as rubble from the building broke through my roof and wall and landed where the bed was!”
Igwe’s back was in contact with the wall so he was mildly bruised as the bed moved. But he’s okay. And that’s why madam and her supporters were unhappy I called 112.
“Shebi we are in the same community na, shebi nobody died na” she said. “Would you have called them if it was your house that collapsed?”
It was like she would scold me for calling DSVRT if someone raped one of her sons.
Another lady openly questioned why anyone would “snitch” on the community. It was painful and that’s “just the tip”.
“Afterall, the building tore into our own fence too but we didn’t call the government,” she said.
And that was when I (almost?) lost it.
“Did you go to school at all? Are you educated? Are you okay? Is your head correct?”
I grilled her like I was a secret service operative who suspected she knew the whereabouts of #DapchiGirls.
That wasn’t the only crazy thing that happened. Before my learned suspect rung her snitch bell, some “boys” and men who were apparently on Team Madam said juju brought the building down.
“For some time now, we come here early in the morning and meet sacrifice at the gate,” one said.
Another retold how he removed the last sacrifice placed at the entrance.
Another said Lucky the late dog, still under the rubble as I typed this, had been refusing food for three days. They said it had premonition something terrible would happen.
Madam told me she had issues with one of her neighbours who accused her of encroaching on their land. She suggested the sacrifices was their handiwork.
The sad thing was almost everyone around the building knew workers began piling brick walls and concrete pillars on the decking about three days after it was moulded. Experts told me they should have waited three weeks.
I laughed, painfully.
“Why are you laughing? Ah! Ah! Are you not Yoruba? Ah! This one is not Yoruba o. Ah!”
I just smh.
Instead of making effort to rescue the dog, these guys were talking about how “jazz” could make Aso Rock collapse. Sigh.
They said it was just a dog, no biggie. I don’t like dogs but I feel if you own one (security or pet) you should care for it. It dawned on me most Nigerians keep dogs for security purposes or to flaunt status.
Dogs don suffer! We don’t value anything that breathes, and that included our own selves. So pets and animal maiguards are on their own
Igwe, after receiving medical treatment, told me he heard the dog bark once after the building came down. That was it. The dog must be dead now and no one cared.
We don’t value life.
As we watched LASEMA seal the building, some of the labourers working on the structure that once was came around. I wondered what would have happened had they slept over in the building. Then I remembered someone from Team Madam telling me if Igwe had died we would have said “eeyah” and buried his remains and that would be it! Chai!
It pained me. I asked the LASEMA guys what would happen next. They said LABSCA would come test the structure and could demolish it. He said the building had to be demolished because it posed a threat to surrounding structures. One man from neighborhood watch even said the government could seize the land (I think that’s a senseless stretch).
Before noon, however, someone broke the seal and I saw Team Madam dealing with the rubble. No more LABSCA. Whatever happened to the threat the rubble posed to surrounding buildings? I heard madam visited their office as LASEMA team lead advised. Case closed?
My neighbours have been worried from the first day that structure sprung. We now fear this developer could get a second chance to get someone killed because government officials failed to act.
The one-storey building is located at Mogbonjubola Street (Off Bajulaiye Road), Bariga, Lagos.