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Relatives of victims of the collapsed 21-storey building at Ikoyi, Lagos yesterday demanded to see their loved ones dead or alive, three days after the disaster.

The high-rise structure, which was under construction, was believed to have over 50 people inside, including artisans, guests and workers of the real estate firm. Several people are still feared trapped in the debris, including a pastor and one of the contractors at the site with over 20 of his workers.

One of the victims’ family members, Abel Godwin, who came to Lagos from Abuja looking for his teenage son, Emmanuel, said all he wanted was to see his son dead or alive. He has been returning to the site since Tuesday.

He told Governor Sanwo-Olu: “I’ve been to the general hospital to check those that are injured and my son was not found. You promised that I would be able to see my son today (yesterday). I came from Abuja and waited till today.

“Can you please sir grant me access to see bodies that have been recovered? What I actually need now is to know if my son is living or dead so I can return to Abuja and wait for the government to do the needful. I am sincerely begging you sir.”

Another relative, Florence, said her younger brother was also working on the site.

“My younger brother was here. He left the house in the first week of October. I spoke with him last on Sunday. I received a call that something happened. I came yesterday and when I got here, one of his colleagues said he was among the people rescued and rushed to the hospital. It’s the hospital that I don’t know.

“I’ve gone to the Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH), Yaba, but I wasn’t allowed in. Yesterday (Wednesday), I went to the General Hospital and the person that I showed pictures confirmed seeing my brother, but that he was unconscious. But I didn’t see him. I want to see him,” she said.

Sanwo-Olu grants special access to father

Governor Sanwo-Olu, however, granted special access to Godwin to check for his son among the bodies so far recovered from the debris. He also assured Florence that names of those in the hospital and those already discharged would be shared with her once she has provided her information at the stand.

According to the governor, it would be unprofessional to allow anyone inspect the bodies now, but said he would “give an exception to the distraught man who came from Abuja after learning of what had happened”.

He added: “I truly cannot express fully how difficult it would be for you. I remember that I saw you yesterday (Wednesday) and mentioned that probably by today (yesterday) you might be able to see your son. So, two things will happen: we can first pick up your cost of staying here in Lagos till you are able to see your son.

“The second thing is we will do an exception, which is one of the things that we do not want to do. We have pictures of the bodies and so you could sit with the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Health in a separate location and you can view the pictures.

“Like I said, it is because we want to do things properly, and properly means let’s do it officially with the pathologist in the event that we need to present this as a criminal case.”

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