We Observed Aircraft Flying Low Over Synagogue Building Before Collapse, Police Tell Court

 

Synagogue
File photo of the scene of the Synagogue Church building which collapsed in 2014.

 

The Synagogue Church of All Nations has opened its defence on a charge of building without approval brought against it by the Lagos State.

An Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Alaba Yahaya Haruna, who testified on Friday, told a Lagos High Court hearing the case that one of his patrol teams observed an aircraft flying low over the building located in the Ikotun Egbe area just before it collapsed.

Haruna, an Area Commander of the Eastern Ports Command, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of the Ikotun Egbe Police Station, Lagos, at the time the building collapsed.

The registered trustees of the church are facing trial alongside two engineers who built the building: Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, and their companies, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited.

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They are facing 110 counts of involuntary manslaughter following the collapse of one of the Church buildings in September 2014, which led to the death of 116 people.

Led in evidence by the Church’s counsel, Oluseye Diyan, the witness relived the incident.

“On that fateful day on September 12, 2014 at about 12:30 hours, there was a radio communication from the police control room at Ikeja that they were receiving calls from the public of an aircraft flying at low altitude over the church. I was directed by the Area Command to confirm the incident and monitor the aircraft’s activities.

“I wanted to go out and direct my men to watch out for the aircraft when I received another report of an airplane flying at a very low altitude. I went outside but I couldn’t see it, by that time it had gone. I received a call later from Inspector Lucky Ugbaja, stationed at the church that one of the church’s buildings had collapsed,” Haruna explained.

According to him, the radio room had earlier called the Police Airport Command to confirm whether it was carrying out any activity in the SCOAN vicinity.

Haruna said when he arrived the church’s premises there was a large crowd and the few policemen there were trying to manage the situation. More onlookers kept trooping in and the crowd spilled to the roads outside the church, causing serious traffic gridlock.

“We were overwhelmed,” Haruna told the judge, adding that he called for more policemen, which was provided.

He said his men cordoned off the scene in an attempt to restrict entrance to only those who could assist the church members and other worshippers in the rescue operation.

“Those I met there were SCOAN worshippers, they were bringing out so many people from under the rubble. Most of the victims were alive. Some were injured, some were not.

“Later, the Red Cross, Life Savers, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) arrived and joined us in the rescue,” Haruna added.

The witness stated that the LASEMA General Manager complained of difficulty in gaining access to the scene of the collapse because of the crowd and that the journalists in his entourage were denied access, following which he apologised and ordered his men to let the journalists in.

He said the rescue mission lasted about seven days.

During Cross Examination by the prosecution counsel, Babajide Martins, the police officer insisted that he could not recall any instance when LASEMA officials, or the then Commissioner for Physical Planning, Toyin Ayinde, were prevented by the church members from gaining access to the collapse site.

“Apart from the LASEMA GM who said he had a Herculean task passing through the crowd, others had no problems passing through.

When asked why he concluded that the rescuers were church members or worshippers, Haruna said “commonsense suggests that they were.”

Following the prosecution’s application for an adjournment, Justice Lawal-Akapo adjourned further proceedings till June 28.

Court Defers Trial Of Synagogue Church, Engineers Till June 3

Synagogue, CourtA Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has fixed June 3 for the trial of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN).

The two engineers, who constructed the collapsed six-storey guest house belonging to the church, will also be tried on the same date.

Trial was supposed to commence on Wednesday, June 1, but was stalled after the Director of Lagos State Public Prosecution, Mrs Idowu Alakija, informed the court that she had just served the proof of evidence to the defence team in court earlier in the morning.

She asked the court to stand down the matter to enable the defence team study the documents after which she would call her first witness and proceed with the trial.

However, counsel to the trustees of the Synagogue Church, Lateef Fagbemi, objected to the request for a stand down.

He asked the court to instead, adjourn proceedings for at least a day to enable the defence team study the proof of evidence and call its experts to analyse it.

The presiding judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, had to adjourn the trial in the interest of fair hearing, to enable the defence team more time to study the proof of evidence.

The Synagogue Church building which collapsed on September 12, 2014 in the Ikotun area of Lagos State, southwest Nigeria was said to have killed no fewer than 116 persons, most of them foreign nationals.

The registered trustees of SCOAN, the two engineers, Akinbela Fatiregun and Oladele Ogundeji, alongside their companies – Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company, and Jandy Trust Limited are being tried on 111 charges of involuntary manslaughter and failure to obtain building approval contrary to Section 41 of the Urban and Regional Planning Law of Lagos State.

Synagogue Building Collapse: Court To Rule On February 8

SynagogueThe Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has fixed February 8 to rule on the applications filed by the two engineers indicted in the collapse of the six-storey building belonging to the Synagogue Church Of All Nations.

The collapsed building which came down in the Ikotun area of Lagos State in September 2014 led to the death of 116 persons, mostly nationals of South Africa.

In the application, the engineers, Oladele Ogundele and Akinbola Fatiregun, who have been charged on 110 counts of involuntary manslaughter, are challenging the validity of the service of the charges on them.

The Presiding Judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, had on December 11, 2015, granted an application by the prosecution to serve the engineers through substituted means by pasting the court processes on the front doors of their residential houses in the Alagbado and Ikeja areas of Lagos.

This was done to compel the engineers to come before the court to face the charges against them.

Through their lawyers, however, the two defendants are contending that the order to serve them by substituted means was wrongfully granted by Justice Lawal-Akapo.

Court Restrains Prosecution Of Synagogue Collapsed Building Engineers

SynagogueThe Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has restrained the Lagos State Government from prosecuting the two engineers who built the collapsed guest house of the Synagogue Church of All Nations.

Justice Ibrahim Buba on Tuesday granted an order of injunction barring the Commissioner of Police from arresting and detaining the two men.

The judge gave the ruling on an application for an injunction pending the appeal filed by the engineers.

In an earlier judgement on Fundamental Rights Enforcement suit filed by the engineers to stop their prosecution by the Government, Justice Buba held that the men “had not made a case for infringement of their fundamental human rights even on the merit of the application”.

He dismissed their applications on November 11, 2015 paving the way for their arraignment and trial.

The engineers have, however, approached the court of appeal to challenge this ruling.

Justice Buba, who granted their application to stay the proceedings against them by the Lagos State Government, said his ruling would subsist until the engineers’ appeal against his earlier ruling was determined by the Court of Appeal.

He urged the prosecution to ensure that the appeal was heard expeditiously and threatened to vacate the restraining order if the engineers failed to prosecute their appeal promptly.

On Monday the Lagos State government had sought to arraign both men, their engineering company, Hardrock Construction Company, one Jadyn Trust Limited and the registered trustees of the Synagogue Church before a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

The State government slammed a 111-count charge against them.

Their arraignment was however stalled owing to the absence of both men & their company in court.

Arraignment Of Synagogue Church Trustees Stalled

SCOAN-Collapse-2The planned arraignment of the Registered Trustees of ‎the Synagogue Church of All Nations and two engineers who constructed its collapsed six-storey building was stalled on Monday at the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

The arraignment was stalled due to the absence of three out of the five defendants charged by the Lagos State Government.

While the registered trustees of the church and Jadny Trust Limited, the first & second defendants were represented by counsel in court, the 3rd to 5th defendants, Hardrock Construction Engineering Company and the two Engineers, Oladele Ogundeji & Akinbela Fatiregun were not represented.

The State’s Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr Niji Kazeem, told the presiding Justice, Lateef Lawal-Akapo, that the state had not been able to serve the three defendants with a copy of the charge.

Mr Kazeem said the service could not be effected because the state did not have valid addresses for them.

The court has however, directed the counsel, Mr Oluseun Abimbola, who represented the first & second defendants to furnish the prosecution with the valid addresses of the 3rd to 5th defendants.

Involuntary Manslaughter

Meanwhile, the state has slammed a 111-count charge against the accused persons.

In count one, the registered trustees of the Synagogue church and the other defendants were charged with failure to obtain building approval contrary to Section 41 of the Urban & Regional Planning Law of Lagos State.

In count 2 to 111, the other accused persons were charged with involuntary manslaughter which led to the death of 116 persons mostly South Africans on September 12, 2014.

The court has been adjourned till December 11.

A statement by the Deputy Director, Public Affairs of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Bola Akingbade, confirmed the scheduled arraignment.

Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos had earlier dismissed the fundamental human rights enforcement suits filed by the engineers who constructed the collapsed six-storey building to stop their planned trial.

Synagogue Building Collapse: Lagos Court To Arraign TB Joshua, Others

SynagogueA Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja would on Monday arraign the trustees of Synagogue Church Of All Nations, SCOAN over the collapse of a six-storey building in the church on September 12, 2014, which led to the death of 116 persons.

The trustees will be arraigned before Justice Lawal Akapo alongside the engineers that constructed the collapsed building.

A statement by the Deputy Director, Public Affairs of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Bola Akingbade, confirmed the scheduled arraignment.

Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos had dismissed the fundamental human rights enforcement suits filed by the engineers who constructed the collapsed six-storey building to stop their planned trial.

The engineers — Mr Oladele Ogundeji and Mr Akinbela Fatiregun — had filed two separate suits before Justice Buba seeking an order restraining the Police from inviting, arresting or prosecuting them over the victims’ death.

The Lagos State government had set up a coroner inquest to unravel what went wrong, and via a verdict delivered on August 7, 2015 by Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, the coroner had indicted the engineers and recommended them for investigation and prosecution for criminal negligence.

Court Dismisses Synagogue Engineers’ Bid To Evade Prosecution

Court Dismisses Synagogue Engineers’ Bid To Evade ProsecutionThe Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has dismissed the fundamental human rights enforcement suits filed by the engineers who constructed the collapsed six-story building at the Synagogue Church Of All Nations.

The collapse of the building, which occurred on September 12, 2014 in Ikotun area of Lagos State, Nigeria’s commercial city, led to the death of 116 persons in which most of them were foreigners.

Criminal Negligence

The Lagos State Government had promptly set up a Coroner’s Inquest to unravel what went wrong.

The Coroner Magistrate, Oyetade Komolafe, through a verdict delivered on August 7, 2015, indicted the engineers and the church and recommended them for investigation and prosecution for criminal negligence.

The engineers, Mr Oladele Ogundeji and Mr Akinbela Fatiregun, swiftly filed two separate suits before Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court, seeking an order restraining the police from inviting, arresting or prosecuting them over the victims’ death.

In his ruling on the defendants’ preliminary objection, Justice Buba held that the engineers “had not made out a case of infringement of their fundamental rights even on the merit of the application”.

He also held that the Coroner Law was an enactment of the Lagos State House of Assembly which was constitutionally empowered to make laws in the state, adding that “the Federal High Court cannot dabble into the affairs of the state to start dishing out injunctive orders”.

The judge then maintained that the prayers by the engineers, asking for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Lagos State Attorney General or any officer under his authority from initiating or commencing criminal proceedings against them, cannot be granted in the circumstance of the case under review.

The Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, subsequently hailed Justice Buba on his verdict.

He said that the State government would immediately seek the arraignment and prosecution of the suspects at the Lagos High Court, where charges were already pending before Justice Lawal Akapo.

Court Says TB Joshua Must Appear Before Coroner

T.B. JoshuaA Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on Friday affirmed the witness summons issued on the Founder of  Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Prophet T.B. Joshua, to appear before the Coroner probing the cause of death of the 116 persons in the church’s collapsed building on September 12, 2014.

The presiding judge, Justice Lateefa Okunnu, also held that the Coroner, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe, had the power to inquire into the cause of the building collapse in his mandate to determine the direct cause and manner of the victims’ death.

The Judge further held that the allegation of bias levelled against Komolafe by T.B. Joshua in the conduct of the inquest was unsubstantiated as the proof that T.B. Joshua adduced were mere conjectures which lacked any evidential weight.

“Having read the transcripts from the proceedings, I regret that I do not share the applicants’ point of view that the respondent had been biased or unfair and had breached the principle of natural justice,” Okunnu held.

The Judge also struck out the Coroner’s court as a respondent in the suit, on the grounds that it was not a juristic person that could be sued.

Following the collapse of the SCOAN’s six-storey guest house on September 12, last year, killing about 116 persons and injuring many, the Lagos State Government had set up the Coroner’s inquest to determine the cause of death and the circumstances leading to the mishap.

But weeks into the Coroner’s inquest, which began on October 13, 2014, T.B. Joshua had approached Okunnu asking for a judicial review of the Coroner’s proceedings.

In the said application, the prophet asked Okunnu to determine whether the witness summons served on him to appear and testify before the Coroner was not a breach of his right to fair hearing when no material fact had been placed against him before the Coroner.

He also asked the Judge to determine whether it was not beyond the power of the Coroner to venture into the possible cause of the building collapse.

T.B. Joshua also alleged that the Coroner had shown bias against him, arguing that the Coroner compromised his neutrality and demonstrated personal interest at the point when he threatened to order Joshua’s arrest for failure to honour the witness summons.

T.B. Joshua’s lawyers, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Olalekan Ojo, also contended that the duty of the Coroner did not go beyond ascertaining the reason for the victims’ death.

According to them, it was beyond the Coroner to enquire into the possible reason why the building, wherein the victims perished, collapsed in terms of building approval and the quality of materials used in the construction.

They, therefore, urged the court to stop the Coroner from further extending his inquisitions into areas beyond his statutory scope.

They further asked the court to pronounce as null and void, all previous proceedings already conducted by the magistrate in excess of jurisdiction.

But Okunnu, on Friday, resolved all the issues raised in favour of the Coroner.

The Judge held that it was up to the Coroner to determine what types of material evidence and witnesses that would be relevant to his findings, adding that he had unlimited power to summon anyone in the execution of his duty.

“It is the Coroner himself that largely hunts for the evidence that he considers to be useful to him,” Okunnu held, adding that the Coroner “is a master of his own proceedings.”

The Judge added that by virtue of Section 26 and 27 of the Coroner System Laws of Lagos State, 2007, the Coroner was empowered to compel the attendance of any witness he considered to be useful to his inquisitions, including Joshua.

She held, “The Coroner has the prerogative of calling witnesses who he believes would be of assistance to his fact-finding mission.”

In the final analysis, the Judge adjudged Joshua’s application to be lacking in merit and consequently dismissed it.

Meanwhile, a Structural Engineer and Consultant to the Lagos State Material Testing Agency, Saheed Ariyori, on Friday told the Coroner that his examination revealed that there were no signs of stress on the building prior to its collapse.

The witness, who had earlier asserted that faulty or inadequate foundation was responsible for the collapse, however, admitted that he was not a professional in the field of sub-soil investigation, adding that there was an error of calculation in the report he tendered before the Coroner.

Further hearing in the inquest has been adjourned till March 12, 2015.

Synagogue Collapse: Court Adjourns Suit To Prohibit TB Joshua From Appearing Before Coroner

court-on-Synagogue The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos State capital, has adjourned the ruling on the prohibition suit initiated by the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), alongside its Founder, Prophet Temitope Joshua, till March 6.

The Court, presided over by Justice Lateefat Okunnu, adjourned to the 6th of March to rule whether or not the coroner is a juristic personality.

The Judge, who was supposed to rule on Tuesday, raised the issue of whether or not the coroner could be sued or not.

She stated the outstanding issue that needed to be clarified before she could give her ruling on the matter, noting that the councils should file their process on the issue within two days.

Meanwhile at the Synagogue coroners’ inquest going on at the Coroners Court, the Chief Security Officer of SCOAN, Sunday Okoji, gave testimony as to whether or not the Statutory respondents were at the crash site all through the period.

The coroner adjourned the suit till the March 6 for continuation of inquest.

Court Earlier Set Aside March 3, 2015 For Ruling

Meanwhile, the same court had earlier set aside March 3, 2015 as the day to deliver ruling on the prohibition suit.

The Judge arrived at the decision, shortly after lead counsel to SCOAN, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), replied on point of law to the arguments raised by lawyer to the Lagos State Government before the court.

The suit was instituted against the Lagos State Coroners Court sitting in Ikeja, and the Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, who was presiding over the court.

Specifically, SCOAN wanted the court to stay further proceedings of the inquest and suspend further actions on Joshua’s invitation to appear to give evidence before it, pending the determination of his suit against Chief Magistrate Komolafe before the High Court.

SCOAN alongside its Founder had filed the suit pursuant to Order 40 Rule 5 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure Rules) 2012 and signed by O.M Abimbola.

Synagogue Building Collapse: Court To Deliver Ruling On March 3

SynagogueLagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, presided over by Justice Lateefa Okunnu, on Thursday set aside March 3, 2015 as the day to deliver ruling on the prohibition suit initiated by the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), alongside its founder, Prophet Temitope Joshua.

The Judge arrived at the decision, shortly after lead counsel to SCOAN, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), replied on point of law to the argument raised by lawyer to the Lagos State Government before the court.

The suit was instituted against the Lagos State Coroners Court sitting in Ikeja, and the Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, who was presiding over the court.

Specifically, SCOAN wanted the court to stay further proceedings of the inquest and suspend further actions on Joshua’s invitation to appear to give evidence before it, pending the determination of his suit against Chief Magistrate Komolafe before the High Court.

SCOAN alongside its Founder had filed the suit pursuant to Order 40 Rule 5 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure Rules) 2012 and signed by  O.M Abimbola.

The suit was praying Justice Okunnu for an order of prohibition, against the Coroner’s Court of Lagos State and the presiding Magistrate Komolafe from exceeding their jurisdiction in the conduct of Coroner’s inquest into the death of unknown persons in the collapsed building within the premises of SCOAN on September 12, 2014.

According to the suit designated ID/188MJR/2014, SCOAN wanted the Lagos High Court to issue, “An order of Certiorari to quash the proceedings of the 1st and 2nd respondents in the conduct of the coroner’s inquest into the death of unknown persons in the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Ikotun Egbe, Lagos on 12th September, 2014 in suit number CR/AL/01/2014 concerning matters, issues and circumstances other than what directly caused the death of the victims and the manner of their death for having been conducted without or in excess of the statutory jurisdiction of the 1st and 2nd respondents.

“A declaration that the decision of the coroner to summon the applicants to give evidence at a time when no materials were placed before the coroner against the applicants is a breach of the applicants right to fair hearing.

“A declaration that the coroner who relied on his personal knowledge of the facts of the case is not a proper person to preside at the inquest into the death of people at the collapsed building of Synagogue Church of All Nations.

“A declaration that the coroner who relied on extraneous matters not borne out of the records to reach his conclusion that the 2nd applicant is a necessary witness when in fact is not, is in breach of the rules of natural justice and fair hearing guaranteed by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

“An order prohibiting the coroner from conducting further inquest/proceedings relating to the construction of the collapsed building which facts were clearly outside the scope of a coroner’s inquest.

“An order quashing the proceedings of the coroner’s inquest in its entirety for being conducted in breach of the rule of natural justice, likelihood of bias, and for taking proceedings clearly outside the scope of the jurisdiction of the respondent.

“An order prohibiting the respondent from insisting on the personal attendance of the 2nd applicant as such will be without or in excess of jurisdiction, unconstitutional and unlawful.

“An order of injunction to restrain the respondents as presently constituted from further conducting any inquest into the collapsed building of Synagogue Church of All Nations, as the 2nd respondent had demonstrated personal interest in the subject matter and his neutrality clearly compromised.

“An order of injunction restraining the coroner from taking and continuing to take evidence/proceedings on the issue of approval and construction of the collapsed building, which issues were clearly outside the scope of a coroner’s inquest.”

In arguing this application, SCOAN alongside its founder had told the Judge that Chief Magistrate Komolafe, who is the Coroner investigating the collapse of the guest house belonging to the church, had exceeded the jurisdiction of a Coroners Court.

The duo made the assertion through their lawyer, Fagbemi (SAN) while arguing the suit made against Chief Magistrate Komolafe at the Lagos High Court.

The Coroners Inquest was initiated by the Lagos State Government to carryout investigation into the September 12, 2014 collapse of the six-storey building which claimed the life of 116 persons.

In moving the application, Chief Fagbemi (SAN) maintained that the Lagos State Coroner’s Law 2007 only gave powers to the Coroner to determine the cause of death and to identify the body of the deceased.

The SAN further argued that taking evidence on the issues of approval and construction of the collapsed building were clearly outside the scope and jurisdiction of the Coroner’s Court.

The SAN revealed that Chief Magistrate Komolafe had been hearing evidence on such extraneous issues at the inquest which started proceedings on October 13,2014.

The senior lawyer maintained that Sections 32 and 33 of the Coroner Law does not empower the Coroner to summon on manners of persons to appear before the inquest, adding that the Coroner’s summons on Prophet Joshua to personally appear before the inquest was unconstitutional and a breach of his right to fair hearing.

He equally insisted that Chief Magistrate Komolafe had shown personal interest in the subject matter which could lead to being biased against his client.

Chief Fagbemi then prayed Justice Okunnu to grant the application and declare the Coroner proceedings null and void.

In responding, lawyer to the Lagos State Government, Afeez Owokoniran, prayed the court to throw out the suit.

According to the lawyer, the Coroner had extensive powers to investigate the cause and circumstances of death and bring his findings and recommendations to the attention of appropriate authorities.

He said, “In doing this, he has all the powers of a magistrate to summon and compel the attendance of witnesses, including medical examiners, and require them to give evidence, produce documents or present other relevant materials.

“In order to determine the cause of death, the Coroner has the latitude to investigate issues pertaining to building approval, soil testing and materials used in the construction of the collapsed building.”

Building Collapse: Structure Engineer Advocates Diligent Law Enforcement

Eugene_Mojekwu_ProfessorA structural engineer, Professor Eugene Mojekwu, has stressed the need for the Nigerian government to be more diligent with law enforcement to reduce the rate of building collapse.

Professor Mojekwu expressed strong conviction that with adequate law enforcement, the errors that could lead to building collapse could be identified and corrected.

He said that the process – from conception to the completion of the construction – was quite involved in the issues of building construction and collapse.

“Each step of that process must be done properly or you could have issues.

“As a structural engineer, you do not have a second chance to do it write. You can only do it right once.

“It starts with the design process, when the owner has decided to build something based on an agreed master plan. It goes to an architect, who designs the building and creates the forms to fit the function of the building and then brings in his consultants,” he said.

The structure engineer said structural engineers made sure the buildings should be able to withstand the loads it will carry by performing necessary calculations which would be transferred to drawings.

“The drawings will go to municipality who will review what we have done. It is supposed to be someone with experience and adequate training and if the review agrees with what we have done, it will be approved,” he explained.

Synagogue Church of All Nations
Debris of the collapsed guest house at the Synagogue Church Of All Nation.

In construction process, the contractors must adhere to specifications and builders are expected to build strictly in accordance with specifications.

Over the years there have been reports that builders cut corners in Nigeria in trying to save cost. This has resulted in several cases of building collapse.

Some months ago, a guest house in the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nation in Ikotun area of Lagos State collapsed, killing at least 80 persons.

The said stories building was still under construction while some floors were already in use for housing guests.

Professor Mojekwu emphasised that it was wrong to add additional floors to a building, exceeding what had been approved.

The church had said the number of floors that was approved was more than what was already constructed.

“So many elements can go wrong at that time. The pillars are meant to support a certain amount of load the same thing as the foundation. So additional floor will be added weight, exceeding what was approved,” Professor Mojekwu explained.

He also pointed out that a lot of mistake could be made at the point of construction, stressing that the amount of water to be added to the concrete mix must not exceed supposed amount.

“We should have a requirement where there has to be a qualified testing agency on site to monitor the placement of reinforcing steel, the concrete mix and other materials. The government needs to be a little more diligent in enforcing laws,” he said.

Court To Hear Suit To Stop Coroner Inquest On November 17

Synagogue building collapseA Federal High Court sitting in Lagos will on Monday November 17, give judgment in a suit filed by a lawyer, Olukoya Ogungbeje seeking to halt the ongoing Coroner inquest into the collapse of a six-story building within the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nations.

The sad incident occurred on September 12, 2014 at the Synagogue Church in Ikotun area of Lagos. A total of 116 persons, mostly foreigners have so far been confirmed dead.

The Lagos State Government had set up the Coroner inquest and appointed Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe to preside over the inquest.
The Coroner had swiftly swung into action and invited everyone that needed to be invited, when the lawyer (Ogungbeje) suddenly approached the federal high court to stop the proceedings of the Coroner inquest.

In the suit, the lawyer contends that the composition of the Coroner inquest was a negation of the principle of natural justice and Section 36 of the Constitution, and as such it was unconstitutional, null and void.

The lawyer also recalled that the Coroner inquest was constituted by the Lagos State Government after some agencies of the state government had indicted the founder of Synagogue Church, Prophet T.B Joshua and his Church.
The church was accused of making additional structures on the building without obtaining the necessary approvals.

Mr Ogungbeje argued that if the inquest is allowed to continue, it would seriously occasion miscarriage of justice, as the same Coroner would base its decision on the testimonies of the same agencies of Lagos State, which had openly indicted Joshua and his Church.

At the hearing today, the applicant (Ogungbeje) adopted these arguments in support of the suit, and urged the court to stop the inquest.

The state government represented by Kamar Bakare, a senior official with the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, equally adopted the counter-affidavit of the respondents in opposition to the suit.

In the counter-affidavit, the government explained that the inquest into the collapsed building was initiated due to public outcry and the need to investigate circumstances surrounding the death of the 116 people.

The government further argued that the inquest was also initiated pursuant to the provisions of Coroner System Law of Lagos State, 2007, duly passed into law by the Lagos State House of Assembly.

According to the government, the inquest is not a regular court, but a fact-finding panel to unravel what actually went down despite the preliminary investigations of the Lagos State Building Control Agency that the church never got approval for the additional structures on the collapsed building.

Besides, the government argued that the applicant (Ogungbeje) lacked the locus standi to sustain the suit as he was neither a member of the Synagogue Church, nor was he personally affected by the inquest.