The collapse of a three-storey building in the Kubwa area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in August 2022 has brought the issue of building collapse back to the spotlight in Nigeria. Building collapses have been a recurring dilemma in the country as it occurs frequently. Building collapses in Nigeria occurred as far back as the 1970s. For instance, a multi-storey building under construction collapsed in the Mokola area of Ibadan, the Oyo State capital, in October 1974, and a residential building in Barnawa Housing Estate, Kaduna, caved-in in August 1977.
Data from government agencies and anecdotal sources indicate that over 221 buildings collapsed across various Nigerian cities from 1974 to 2019, according to a piece published by the Brookings Institution. Alas, more buildings have collapsed across the country since 2019. A good number of these buildings collapsed while they were still under construction. However, there have also been some buildings which collapsed a few years after they have been completed and were occupied by people.
Unfortunately, these building collapses have led to the untimely death of many Nigerians – both the old and young, and the rich and poor. Many others have sustained varying injuries, with some leading to permanent disabilities. In addition, families have been displaced and left homeless due to the cave-in of their homes, and business investments have been flushed down the drain.
10 prominent building collapses in Nigeria
Sague Comprehensive School building collapse
Location: Rivers State | Year: June 1990
On 15 June 1990, Sague Comprehensive Primary and Secondary School collapsed in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. Students, teachers, and other staff members were present in the school building – a three-storey building – as it collapsed, as it was a Friday. A total of 50 persons were confirmed to have been killed as a result of the collapse. It remains one of the deadliest incidents of building collapse affecting educational institutions in the country.
Bank of Industry building collapse
Location: Lagos State | Year: March 2006
A 24-storey building belonging to the Bank of Industry (BOI) in the Broad Street area of Lagos Island, Lagos Island, caved in on 22 March 2006. The building collapsed days after a fire had gutted two floors in the building. The top nine floors of the building crumbled and devastated the structure of the remaining parts, which did not cave in. The cause of the collapse was reportedly due to heavy winds and rain, as the fire weakened the structure. Four persons were said to have died, while 23 others sustained injuries.
The remaining part of the building was brought down in a controlled demolition by a team of foreign demolition experts in 2008.
‘Titanic’ building collapse
Location: Lagos State | Year: July 2006
A four-storey apartment building, popularly known as ‘Titanic,’ crashed down on 19 July 2006 in the Ebute-Metta area of Lagos State. The building comprised 36 flats, a penthouse, and some shops. The building was reportedly barely three years old at the time it collapsed. A total of 57 people were said to have been killed, while 50 others were rescued but suffered various degrees of injuries.
Utako shopping building collapse
Location: Abuja, FCT | Year: July 2008
On 29 July 2008, a four-Storey shopping centre under construction collapsed in Utako District, Abuja. The building, located on Solomon Lar Way in Utako District and made of 10 blocks of shopping centres, reportedly caved in in the early hours of the day on the workers as they were midway through casting concrete floors. Those said to have been affected by the incident included bricklayers, carpenters, and plumbers, as well as the food sellers who serviced the labourers working on the site. About 70 people were said to have died, while others were rushed to hospitals in the FCT with various injuries.
Synagogue Church building collapse
Location: Lagos | Year: September 2014
The guest house of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) collapsed in the Ikotun-Egbe area of Lagos State on 12 September 2014. The tragic incident occurred at a period when the church was filled with worshippers, with some of them residing in the guest house provided by the church management. A total of 300 people were said to have been trapped following the collapse of the building, with 115 people – of which 84 of them were South Africans – confirmed dead.
After the accusations and counter-accusations between the church management and the Lagos State government, a Coroner’s inquest indicted the church and the contractors of the building over the structural failure of the building, which was said to have been the cause of the collapse.
Lekki building collapse
Location: Lagos | Year: March 2016
A five-story building under construction at Lekki Gardens Horizon 1, in the Lekki Phase 1 area of Lagos, collapsed on 8 March 2016. The building was said to have crumbled to ashes at around 3 am. A total of 34 persons were confirmed to have died as a result of the incident, the majority of whom were the labourers on site. Also included in the list of casualties was a woman and her six-month-old baby who had gone to the site to collect money from her husband, one of the workers. The man also did not survive.
After investigations, it was discovered that the building collapsed because the estate developers had added several flats beyond the stipulated limit approved by the Lagos State Building Control Agency.
Uyo church building collapse
Location: Akwa Ibom | Year: December 2016
On 10 December 2016, the roof of the Reigners Bible Church International in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, collapsed. The event reportedly occurred at around 11 am during the ordination of a bishop. It was learnt that the church was under construction and work was “hurried up” ahead of the ordination ceremony. According to an employee of the University of Uyo Teaching Hospital, who was interviewed by the AP, at least 160 people were killed.
Nigeria and Akwa Ibom State, in particular, were lucky not to have had a very senior government official killed in the incident as Udom Emmanuel, the state Governor, was present when the church building collapsed.
Ita Faji building collapse
Location: Lagos State | Year: March 2019
On 13 March 2019, a three-story building in the Ita-Faji area in Lagos Island collapsed. The affected building, located at No. 53, Massey Street, Ita-Faji, housed a school and had a penthouse, as well. The school – Ohen Nursery and Primary School – was on the second floor of the building and housed about 100 students before its collapse. The incident led to the death of 20 people. Of the 65 people in the building, 37 persons were rescued alive by rescuers.
According to the Lagos State government, the building was originally registered as a residential building, and its use was changed from the intended purpose. Apart from the school operating illegally in a residential building, the government noted that the building in question had been marked for demolition twice before the collapse.
Ikoyi building collapse
Location: Lagos State | Year: November 2021
On 1 November 2021, a 21-storey building under construction at Gerrard Road in the Ikoyi area of Lagos collapsed. The building, which was developed by Fourscore Homes Limited, collapsed at around 2:45 pm as one of the towers of the structure – named the 360 Degrees Towers – collapsed. The high-rise block of luxury flats was meant to provide occupants with a panoramic view of Ikoyi; instead, it led to the death of about 42 people, including Femi Osibona, the head of the Fourscore Homes.
During the post-mortem analysis, The Lagos State Building Control Agency said it had approved plans for 15 floors, but 21 floors had been constructed. The investigation is still ongoing as of press time.