…As CBN, SEC green light for Access, Diamond merger***
Five more structurally defective Lagos Island buildings were yesterday brought down by the Lagos State Government.
This brings the number of demolished buildings to 13 since Friday when the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) started the exercise to prevent another disaster after Wednesday’s incident on Massey Street, Ita-Faji, Lagos Island. Twenty people were killed; forty-five others were injured when the four-storey building collapsed. Most of the dead were children.
Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development Prince Rotimi Ogunleye described the exercise as a holistic response to the challenges posed by derelict structures and unapproved schools.
LASBCA Acting General Manager Tayo Fakuloju and Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development Permanent Secretary Mrs Boladele Dapo-Thomas led the team that carried out the demolition.
The houses pulled down yesterday were 25, Elegbata Street, Apongbon, 199, Tokunbo Street, 27, Inabiri Street, 16, Egatin Street and 45, John Street – all on Lagos Island.
They joined eight others demolished on Friday and Saturday – 60, Freeman, 47 Smith, 16, Apatira, 28, Apatira, 39 Alli, 21, Okediji, 34 Seriki and 33 Ojo Giwa streets.
The government, Fakuloju said, has taken over the collapsed Massey Street building.
Mrs Dapo-Thomas said the government will not rest on its oars until “we have sanitise the whole Island and Lagos metropolis of distressed and dilapidated buildings and stem the era of building collapse in the state.”
She said that the fate of sealed 34, Beckley Street will be determined soon.
Ogunleye, in a statement advised landlords and developers, whose structures have been marked for demolition to pull them down or risk forfeiting them.
Commiserating with the bereaved families, he solicited the cooperation of the public to rid the state of distressed buildings.
According to him, the ministry had identified 149 distressed and defective buildings, of which 40 have been demolished.
He said 38 others were slated for demolition before Wednesday’s unfortunate incident.
“In some instances where the owners and occupiers were served with notices and evacuated, people secretly returned to re-occupy the buildings despite the sealing off of the structures by the LASBCA,” he said.
Ogunleye said that LASBCA would step up the ongoing demolition of the affected buildings, adding that all parts of the state would be reached.
He warned that the government will invoke Section 74 of the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law on forfeiture against any owner or developer whose negligence leads to building collapse.
The Medical Director of the Lagos Island General Hospital, Dr Ismail Ganikale, yesterday said more survivors had been discharged.
According to him, seven children and two adults are left in the hospital.
“On Friday, we had 13 patients (10 children and three adults). Four were discharged yesterday (Saturday). We have nine left. We will wait for our consultants tomorrow (today) to determine the fate of others,” Ganikale said.
The Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project (SERAP) has urged Lagos and Oyo state governors to to address the human rights impacts of the building collapse in their respective states.
This, SERAP said, is to avoid further damage to the human rights of the people affected.
The organisation urged the two governors to ensure access of victims and their families for effective remedies in a transparent manner, “specifically, access to justice, adequate compensation, reparation, and guarantees that incidents like these can never happen again.”
SERAP, in a statement issued yesterday by its Deputy Director, Kolawole Oluwadare, blamed collapsed building tragedies on weak enforcement of building regulations and oversight by the two states.
It said the twin incidents require urgent action and reforms.
SERAP said its concern for the victims stemmed from the fact that responses so far by the governments of the two states have been insufficient to deal with the massive extent of the human costs of the incidents.
In the meantime, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) have approved the merger of Access Bank Plc and Diamond Bank Plc, the last major regulatory hurdle for the consummation of the business combination.
Both banks at the weekend confirmed receipt of the final approval from the financial services authorities.
The final go-ahead came on the heels of the recent approval of the merger by shareholders of both banks at a meeting specially convened by the order of the Federal High Court (FHC). The CBN and the SEC had earlier granted “approval–in-principle”, a no-objection approval, to the merger.
With the final approval of the scheme, the banks will now submit the scheme of merger to the FHC for its judicial sanction, which seals the merger.
Under the merger terms, Diamond Bank will transfer all its assets, liabilities and undertakings to Access Bank and the entire issued share capital of Diamond Bank shall be cancelled and Diamond Bank shall be dissolved without being wound up.
In exchange, Diamond Bank’s shareholders shall receive a cash consideration of N1 per share and two ordinary shares of the enlarged Access Bank for every seven ordinary shares of Diamond Bank held as at the effective date.
Access Bank will be the post-merger entity with its Group Managing Director Herbert Wigwe continuing to lead the post-merger management as chief executive. The business combination is expected to leapfrog post-merger Access Bank as Nigeria’s largest bank by total assets and one of Africa’s largest retail banks.
At the separate court-ordered meeting in Lagos, shareholders had overwhelmingly approved the scheme of merger for the business combination and authorised the directors of the banks to take such actions as may be necessary to give effect to the scheme including listing of the scheme shares on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).
Directors and management of the banks believed the merger will create significant values for all stakeholders, underlining the inherent synergies and value accretion in the business combination.
The combination is expected to form a leading Tier 1 Nigerian bank and the largest bank in Africa by number of customers, spanning three continents, 12 countries, 3,100 Automated Teller Machine (ATM), more than 33,000 Point of Sales (PoS) terminals, 27 million clients and more than 10 million mobile customers.
Diamond and Access bank share many of the same areas of focus, including women, youth, entrepreneurs and the financially excluded and will be able to further develop their positioning and market leadership in these growth sectors. Diamond Bank’s corporate customers will also be able to benefit directly from Access Bank’s corporate expertise in trade finance, cash management, treasury and corporate finance.
Wigwe said the two banks share several common values and technologies that make the business combination a seamless one.
According to him, the merger of the banks will create significant opportunities and benefits to customers, shareholders, staff and other stakeholders.
He noted that the combination of Diamond Bank’s strong retail customer franchise and Access Bank’s proven risk and capital management expertise will create a post-merger bank with strong value creation potential.