Igbo People And Culture

DMGS Centenary Disaster Information Update (25 June 2024)

Update 4: DMGS Centenary Disaster Information


The Anambra State Panel of Inquiry set up to investigate the collapse of the DMGS Centenary building commenced public hearings today at Awka, the Capital of Anambra State.

It was chaired by Engr Sir Victor Meju, the Chairman of the Anambra State chapter of The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN). DMGS and DMGS Centenary are cooperating fully with the investigations. He commended our technical team, other attendees and the Press for honouring the invitation.

Consultant Structural Engineer

The first person to face the panel was Engr Dr Chris Oyeka, BEng, MEng, PhD. Dr Oyeka is widely acknowledged in the industry as one of the foremost structural engineers in Nigeria having held academic positions at both the University of Benin and Igbinedion University and holding an expansive portfolio of consultancy projects.

As requested, he presented his CV to the Panel confirming his professional bona fides and his status as a member of the Nigerian Society of Engineers and a COREN registered engineer in current and good standing. Most of the questions of the day were directed to Engr Oyeka and he addressed each and everyone wholesomely. His professional responses were greatly appreciated.

Approval documents

He confirmed that he was a member of the DMGS Centenary team that submitted the approval application at the Anambra State Physical Planning Board (ANSPPB). On the comment that the approval document was labelled “provisional approval”, he unequivocally stated that this has been a longstanding and verifiable custom and practice of the planning approval bodies. He invited the Panel to contact the Anambra State Physical Planning Board (ANSPPB).

Technical issues

He addressed, with erudition and professional courtesy, questions and theories of the potential cause of the collapse of the building.

  1. Expansion joints
    He convincingly dismissed the theory that the lack of expansion joints could lead to the collapse of the building. He reminded the panel that expansion joints are a super structural element and not a feature at the foundational level.
  2. Base size of the columns: He was questioned why he had wide column bases. His response was enlightening as he painstakingly explained the intricate calculations required to determine that size in relation to the nature of the building, the load and the soil.
  1. Supervision of construction
    Engr Oyeka confirmed that he visited the site twice a week and carried out regular inspections with Engr Nweke whose professional competence he respects. Engr Nweke reports to him and he agrees every stage of the construction with him before it commences and reviews regularly during and after each stage.
  2. Cause of the collapse
    Dr Oyeka informed the Panel that he is professionally inquisitive to know as it is an aberration. He enjoined the Panel that a detailed, albeit difficult, technical assessment with a clear plan will be required to determine the cause of the collapse.


Next on the stand was Engr Chinedu Ibeabuchi, the Director of Optimum works Ltd.

Engr Ibeabuchi answered all the questions thrust at him:

1. He is a both a registered engineer with COREN and a registered builder

2. He worked professionally and effectively with the technical team and always cross checked details with Engr Nweke, the supervising engineer

3. He implemented with scrupulous diligence the engineering and architectural drawings

4. He was responsible for the construction from the foundation level to the soffit of the first floor

5. He left the project after this phase of works by mutual agreement Supervising Engineer Engr Davidson Nweke, BEng, a former Chairman of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, Onitsha chapter and a retired seasoned engineer who worked for the Anambra State government took the stand next.

He provided detailed professional answers to all the technical questions from the Panel. He confirmed he has not yet renewed his COREN registration.


Arc Chidubem Olisa, BSc, MSc, the project architect, was the last to take the stand. He was asked to explain his drawings and he did so with convincing detail. On the issue of placement of columns, he responded that the architect positions the columns and the structural engineer has the authority on the size of the columns. This a well established standard in design and construction in line with Sullivan’s famous axiom, “form follows function.” This means that the purpose of a building should be the starting point for its design. Arc Olisa stands by his design of the Centenary.

Closing remarks

Engr Sir Victor Meju concluded and dismissed the hearings at 6PM. He thanked all for coming and told the technical team that they will be re-invited if needed.

Media interest

Our attention has been drawn to false publications making the rounds with the headline; “Cause of DMGS building collapse revealed, as Consultant’s licence reportedly expired 25 years ago.”

This is patently false as the Consultant Structural Engineer, Engr Dr Chris Oyeka, is a renowned registered engineer in good professional standing with COREN. This fact was confirmed at the hearing. It is clearly obvious that the wide and inaccurate conjectures, baseless insinuations, and premature conclusions no matter the attribution do not explain the cause of the collapse.

We are interested to know the real cause of this failure. We, therefore, continue to hope that resources will be made available to the various inquiries and investigations to seek the difficult technical answers or explanations for the collapse of the Centenary building.

We are aware that the public and media interest in this unfortunate incident is exceedingly high and unfortunately has been heightened by:

1. The nature of the Panel has conflated the collapse of the DMGS Centenary building with the Ochanja market catastrophe – a project of the Anambra State Government that collapsed about 4 months ago.

2. The media and legal controversy surrounding the Panel

3. The public hearing format which encourages sensational reporting devoid of technical assessment and evidence.

We, therefore, urge everyone to wait patiently for the outcome of the investigations before making their judgment and to be wary of the headline-grabbing messages you receive. As the matter is a subject of multiple inquiries, we may not answer all your questions, but we will continue to provide appropriate factual information from time to time.

In the meantime, please direct all enquiries to dmgscentenary@gmail.com

Ozii Baba, a TedX Speaker, is an Onitsha-based storyteller and social entrepreneur. He works directly with children and young people.

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