The story has been told of how a 17-year-old student met face-to-face with death in the Jos building collapse.
The building collapse
Seventeen-year-old Taye Folorunso is yet to recover from the trauma of the collapse of a three-storey building that perished 12 persons in Butcher line, Jos in North Local Government Area of Plateau State. A JSS two student of Township Secondary School Jos, Folorunso had gone to visit his father in his shop, which shared the same fence with the collapsed building.
He was in the shop that evening of Monday, July 14, 2019, when the building collapsed. He heard a strange sound from the shop which brought him outside.
He sighted the building as it was about to collapse on his father’s shop, he came out to run but he fell down outside the shop while the building was falling down. He saw people running but couldn’t run because he had sustained fatal injury on his leg. He fell down and concluded that nothing would stop the building from falling on him.
He said his last prayer and closed his eyes while other people were running for safety. He was trapped by the injury he sustained as he stood up to run but the building fell beside him: “I saw death coming my way, I thought I was going to die. It was face-to-face but God prevented the building from falling on me. When I heard the sound I came out to run but I fell down and had a dislocation on my leg. I couldn’t run further and people were running for safety.
“I was shouting for help but no one was willing to make sacrifice because they thought that the building was going to fall on me. My father was not in the shop when the building collapsed.” He was rushed to the Plateau State Specialist Hospital, Jos, where he was revived. He was picked up unconscious by sympathizers to the hospital.
Consumed in the collapsed building also was the owner of the structure, Alhaji Kabiru Lawal Nalele. He was buried in the rubbles for four hours before his death body was recovered. A 34-year-old electric welder, Mubarak, who was said to have prepared to go for prayers but was dragged into the house by the landlord for repairs also perished in the collapsed building.
Apart from eight members of a family wiped out, four persons who came to buy drugs were also trapped, bringing the total number of the dead to 12. Nalele, owner of Nalele Pharmacy, Mango Street, Jos, also lost three of his daughters, three grand children and his daughter in-law, Mariam.
He had dedicated the ground floor of the building to pharmaceutical business where two of his daughters, Rukaya and Amina were selling drugs. Sefia had three children, Rukaya had two children while Amina just got married and was pregnant with twins. Mariam the daughter-in-law perished with two of her babies that the family was planning for the naming ceremony.
Shortly after the collapse, a combined team of rescue operation comprising of National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Federal Road Safety Corp (FRSC), Nigerian Red Cross and sympathizers battled to recover corpses.
A younger brother to the deceased, Alhaji Habibu Lawal Nalele, was speechless. He explained that his brother bought the house built with mould blocks. But he pulled down the structure and made it a three-storey building.
The structure was three years old and occupied by Rufai and Abdulrahman, the eldest and younger son of the late Nalele: “The collapsed three-storey building belonged to my elder brother who died in the collapsed building. He brought an electric welder to repair a door in the house. His intention was to remove the door and fixe another one because there was a crack on the door.
“The welder had gone inside the house while other people were carrying their legitimate activities within and outside the building. Alhaji Kabiru and the welder, Mubarak, were working inside the building when it collapsed. Two of his daughters, Amina and Rukaya, selling drugs at the Pharmacy down stairs also died.
“The wife of the eldest son, Rufai, died with two children. Two other women who were our relatives also died. In all, we lost eight people from our family, five others were people who came to buy one thing or the other.
“The building has shops outside where drugs are sold on the ground floor. Alhaji Kabiru was inside with the welder to repair a door. He wanted to remove the door and put another one. It was on the process that the building collapsed on them. Alhaji Nalele did not live in the building he lived at Mangoro Street, Jos. It is his children resided in the building, There was a warehouse where he kept drugs and other items for sell.”
The eldest son, Rufai, who lost his wife, Mariam and two children, was also lucky that he was not at home when the incident occurred. His attention was drawn to the incident by a friend. He wept profusely:
“We didn’t have the premonition that the building was going to collapse. I can’t explain how it all happened but I am surprised over the incident. I have lost almost all that I have laboured for, my wife, two children and properties worth millions of naira. I have lost my father, my sisters and relations, it is very pathetic, I have to start life all over.”
Luckily, wife of the younger son, Abdulraman, survived. She was rescued by sympathizers. It took more than one hour to remove her from the debris. She was rushed to the hospital, treated and discharged.
Head of Research and Rescue, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) North Central Zone, Nurudeen Musa, confirmed that 12 persons perished in the collapsed building and were buried according to Islamic rites.
Since the incident, the Jos Metropolitan Development Board (JMDB), has began the demolition of buildings with default. Its acting General Manager, Kefas John, said the exercise has been going on but the board did not have sufficient equipment to carry out the job.
He noted that demolition of default buildings takes a lot of money and the board usually hires the equipment to carry out the exercise. He noted that the board would not just wake up to demolish a building until the building is marked and the owner advised on what to do: “It is when he refuses to yield to professional advice that the building is marked for demolition.”