DMGS building collapse: Review panel of inquiry – Lawyers tell Soludo

A team of legal practitioners has asked Governor Charles Soludo of Anambra State to review the panel of inquiry constituted to review the recent collapse of Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS) Centenary building.

In a letter sent to the Governor on behalf of the DMGS Old Boys and Diocese on the Niger, the team, led by Barr Nnamdi Ibegbu, SAN, urged the Governor to withdraw two members of the panel.

The lawyers named the two members as Prof Akaolisa Ezeagu, chairman of the panel and Engr. Sir Victor Meju, key member of the panel, alleging they reportedly made prejudiced comments and publications following the ugly incident.

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

“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 was alleged to have erroneously stated that preliminary investigation points to foundation problem,” the letter read.

The legal team further cited the Punch Newspaper of June 14, 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 was alleged to have said that the collapse could be traced to a faulty foundation and substandard materials used for construction. He went further to say that the approval was given for a two- storey building, but that our clients decided to add more floors to it.

They expressed worry that the public and the Diocese might not get fair hearing with the duo who were said to have demonstrated manifest bias and unprofessionalism on the matter being members of the panel.

They further informed the Governor that the identified members of the panel acted unprofessionally, expressing doubts about their ability to provide unbiased decision in the panel.

“We urge the Governor, most respectfully to withdraw the two persons from the panel or in the alternative the two persons be allowed to honorably recuse themselves from the panel, so that natural justice, equity, good conscience and fairness shall prevail in the deliberation and report of the panel,” the letter further added.

Applauding Soludo for setting up the panel to investigate both immediate and remote causes of building collapses in parts of the state, the team expressed confidence that the initiative would assist in ensuring utmost professionalism in the construction sector in the state.

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