Synagogue Building Collapse: Low Turnout Stalls Inquest

SynagogueLawyers and interested parties failed to turn up for the Lagos State Coroners Court sitting in Ikeja, into the cause of the collapsed guest house owned by the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN).

A situation that showed that judiciary activities is yet to commence in full force in Lagos although the judiciary workers strike is over.

This consequently led the court, presided over by Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, to adjourn till Tuesday, February 17, 2015 for continuation of hearing.

Before fixing the date, Chief Magistrate Komolafe had expressed the court’s determination to see to the end of the matter in two weeks’ time.

He urged lawyers and interested parties not to deploy delay tactics as proceedings continue.

The magistrate also announced that the remaining days in the week would be used to give interested parties the opportunity to view the CCTV footage already before the court.

The strike earlier embarked upon by members of the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN), had frustrated the adjourned sitting of the court.

The building, a guest house in the premises of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations, collapsed on September 12, 2014, leaving over 80 persons dead.

After the collapse, the Founder of the church, Prophet T.B. Joshua, released a video that showed an aircraft flying over the building several times before its collapse.

The Nigerian President visited the Synagogue Church and the scene of the incident. He promised that the incident would be investigated.

Synagogue: Magistrate Dismisses Application Seeking Suspension Of Inquest

Synagogue building collapseThe Coroner probing the September 12 Synagogue building collapse, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe, has dismissed an application seeking a temporary suspension of the inquest.

Komolafe, while dismissing the application, described it as an abuse of court processes.

The Founder of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations, Prophet T.B. Joshua, filed the application asking Komolafe to put on hold further inquisition into the cause of death of the victims of the collapsed building.

No fewer than 116 persons lost their lives while several others sustained varying degrees of injuries in the tragic incident.

Joshua’s application for stay of proceedings dated November 11, 2014 came on the heels of an application he had filed before a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.

In the said application before Justice Lateefat Okunnu, Joshua asked for a judicial review of the coroner’s proceedings, which began on October 13.

Among others, he had asked the High Court to determine whether the witness summons served on him to appear before the coroner to give testimony was not a violation of his right.

He further contested that the coroner had been extending his inquisitions into areas beyond its statutory purview.

According to Joshua’s lawyer, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, the duty of the coroner was limited to determining what killed the victims of the collapsed building and nothing more.

Ojo argued that it was beyond the scope of the coroner to delve into the questions of what was responsible for the collapse of the building itself.

According to Ojo, it was not the duty of the coroner to inquire into issues bordering on building approval, soil and/or material tests of the collapsed building.

He had therefore asked the coroner to suspend further inquisitions till when Justice Okunnu would rule on the issues raised.

Ruling on Joshua’s application on Wednesday, Komolafe held that it was an abuse of court processes.

The Coroner said that since there were no parties such as applicants and respondents or plaintiffs and defendants in the coroner’s court but only witnesses and interested parties, Joshua had no premise upon which to bring the application for stay of proceedings.

Komolafe added that granting such request would amount to him acting beyond his statutory power.

The Coroner held further that the application for stay of proceeding did not conform with Order 40 Rule 6 of the Lagos State Civil Procedural Rules, 2012.

The coroner upheld the argument of Lagos State Government that filing an application before a higher court did not automatically amount to an order to stay proceedings at the lower court.

Komolafe held, “From the order made by the High Court of Lagos State, there is no part wherein it was stated that the proceedings of the Coroner should be stayed as provided for under Rule 40 Order 6, paragraph (a) of Lagos State Civil Procedural Rule, 2012.

“It is for this reason of avoiding this kind of abuse of processes of the court that the lawmakers provided for Order 40 Rule 6, paragraph (a) of the High Court of Lagos State Civil Procedural Rules, 2012 for cases of judicial review.”

Komolafe held that if Justice Okunnu had intended to give an order to restrain the proceedings of the Coroner Court, she would have done it at the point when she gave Joshua the leave to ask for a judicial review of Coroner’s inquest.

He, therefore, adjourned till Friday, December 12, 2014 to proceed with the inquest.

Synagogue Building Collapse: Police Say Controlled Demolition Possible

Synagogue The Nigerian Police say that the Synagogue six-storey building could have been felled by a technique known as controlled demolition.

The Homicide Department of the State Criminal Investigation Department, Panti, Lagos, has explained that controlled demolition is when a building is felled using a chemical or electronic device.

The Head, Homicide Investigation and Crime Scene Management, DSP Olusola Agoyi, who was testifying at the resumed sitting of the Coroner, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe, probing the cause of the September 12 tragedy, said that the speed and the rate at which the Synagogue building caved in, coupled with some dust-like smoke that followed were peculiar elements seen only in a building felled by controlled demolition.

The investigator said that it was not impossible for a saboteur to have disguised into the church premises as a lodger or a visitor.

The Coroner, Magistrate Komolafe, was however not impressed with the level of investigation done. He, therefore, instructed the Police to do a proper investigation as he would be called back to testify.

The representative of the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), Bede Ogbeya, in his report, stated that the result of the test carried out revealed that the site had compressive strength and surface hardness value below the minimum standard requirement.

As the proceedings continued in the court room, a large crowd had gathered outside the court to wait for the arrival of the church founder, Prophet Temitope Joshua, but he was no where insight and the Coroner was again disappointed that the Prophet was not in court.

He, therefore, adjourned due to a malfunction of the recording device till Friday, November 21, warning that if Joshua still failed to show up, a bench warrant would be issued for his arrest.

It was still unclear why the prophet did not show up in court and if he eventually would.

Synagogue Building Collapse: S.Africa To Send Special Envoy To Nigeria

Synagogue building collapseSouth Africa is sending a high level governmental team to Nigeria with regard to the repatriation of the bodies of their citizens who died in the Synagogue Guest House collapse in September.

Addressing a post-cabinet press conference in Cape Town and via video link to Pretoria on Thursday, Minister in the Presidency and the special envoy leading the visiting delegation, Mr Jeff Hadebe, said that the purpose of the visit was to meet with the Federal Government and the Lagos State Government first-hand, with a view to expediting action on the repatriation of the bodies.

More than 80 South Africans are believed to be among the 116 people who died in the Synagogue building collapse.

DNA matching is said to still be ongoing at a laboratory in Stellenbosch, in South Africa.

Synagogue Building Collapse: Coroner’s Inquest To Begin October 13

building collapseThe Coroner’s inquest into the death of over 80 persons persons in a collapsed building in the premises of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations at Ikotun will commence at the Coroner Court on Monday October 13.

The Corona Court is within the premises of the High Court in Ikeja.

The Lagos State government had instituted a coroner’s inquest under the Lagos State Coroner’s System law No. 7 of 2007 for the purpose of establishing the cause and manner of the collapsed building incident of Friday, September 12.

In a statement by the Lagos State Judiciary, some media organisations which include the News Agency of Nigeria, P.M. News, Vanguard, Channels Tv, Television Continental, Daily Independent Newspaper, The Nation and the Punch Newspaper are expected to present themselves and give evidence at the inquest.

Some other expected organisations and bodies include, the Lagos State Building Control Agency, Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development Alausa Ministry of Works, Ministry of Tourism & Intergovernmental Relations, Office of the Surveyor-General of Lagos State and Prophet T.B. Joshua, founder of the Synagogue Church of All Nations.

The case will be handled by the Coroner, O.A. Komolafe which had mandated his registrar to schedule the expected organisations, bodies and persons for appearance.

In the statement, the judiciary requested that members of the public with evidence material that will assist the court in its findings should indicate their interest to tender it by contacting the registrar at the coroner’s court before the hearing commence by 9:00am local time.

The inquest was instigated by the State Attorney General & Commissioner for Justice, Mr Ade Ipaye, under section 15 of the coroner law which provides that a coroner shall hold an inquest whenever he is informed that the death of a deceased person lying within his coroner district was as a result of a violent, unnatural or suspicious occurrence.

Mr Ipaye highlighted that 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 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,” he said.

The State Attorney General further explained that the law required the verdict of a coroner as certified in writing to be forwarded to the state attorney general and such verdict may form the basis of criminal prosecutions depending on the evidence collected’.

Don’t Blame T.B Joshua For Synagoue Building Collapse – S.African Survivor Warns

Anthony Van Der BylA South African eye-witness, Anthony Van Der Byl, who was at the scene when the Synagogue building collapsed, has warned that people should not blame the leader of the church, T.B Joshua, for the incident but rather, they should investigate the “strange aircraft” which was captured hovering around the building.

The Founder and General Overseer of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Temitope Joshua, popularly referred to as T.B Joshua, had linked the collapse of the six storey building within the premises of the church headquarters in Lagos, to a “strange aircraft” which he said hovered around the building before it collapsed.

Byl, who lost his wife to the accident, narrated the events leading to the collapse, noting that there was no warning that such a thing would happen.

Byl said he and his wife had been about to eat lunch, before the building collapsed. “We were in the dining room on the ground floor; As we were talking, all of a sudden, I just noticed that the walls on the opposite side broke out.

“It just took about three seconds and then the whole building came on top of us.”

He noted that there was no warning as the entire building came crashing down. None of the pillars had broken off and the building did not tilt to any side.

“Many people all over the world, even the reports in South Africa are trying to point fingers at the structure (the building, how it was built, what material was being used, the building)” he said, adding that he had seen the materials used in building the structure, before the collapse.

“It was top quality material, including the steel”, he insisted, stating that “no one of the news reporters is talking about the footage, that’s been sent to them by the Prophet, on the plane that was hovering around, flying very low.

“No one is talking about that plane”, he argued, urging the public to “stop putting the blame on the prophet.”

He further claimed that the building collapsed as though dynamites had been placed at all corners of the building and detonated.

Byl, who was discharged from the hospital on Sunday, noted that he was yet to see his wife’s corpse as the search process and the different mortuaries was “tormenting”.

According to him, DNA experts from South Africa are working to identify his wife and the other bodies.

He however noted that he had been miraculously healed by T.B Joshua who had touched all his wounds. “A miracle happened. My wounds instantly healed by the power of God,” he said.

Van Der Byl, made these comments via a telephone interview on Channels Television’s Saturday breakfast programme.

Professional Body Calls On Senate To Intervene In Construction Sector

Samuel IlugbekhaiThe President, Nigerian Institute of Structural Engineers, Samuel Ilugbekhai, on Wednesday called on the Senate to intervene in the construction sector and “create an enabling law for the competent practice of structural engineering in Nigeria” in order to prevent building collapses, such as that of the recent Synagogue Building.

Mr Ilugbekhai, who noted that issues concerning building collapse in Nigeria have been discussed for over 30 years, emphasised the need for the general public to have structural engineers on building sites, as only such a professional can guarantee that a building has strength.

“An average building has a team that works on it. The architect conceives the building. The structural engineer gives the building the strength to stand its entire lifetime. So the building standing everyday means that the structural engineer is continuously at work.

“Any day that building suffers any form of defect that makes it come down, it means that structural engineering has failed,” he said, while on Sunrise Daily.

He noted that the Institute has been in existence since 1968 and “till date, none of our members have been found wanting, in terms of any form of collapse”.

He went further to emphasise that “if you are going to build anything, that a human being is going to be inside, a structural engineer must be there”. He noted that even the simplest of all constructions, bungalow, should also have such an engineer on site.

However, it appears that the general public does not often patronise the services of structural engineers.

“I mentioned that for the past 30 years alone (at least which I’m aware of), we have tried to drum the signal of this danger to the ears of those who are supposed to know.”

We mentioned that many letters had been written to “the appropriate authorities” including Council Of Registered Engineers in Nigeria (COREN), the overall regulating body for engineering in Nigeria, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), warning of the impending danger.

“If you are not a structural engineer, don’t dabble into structural engineering.”

He argued that the engineering authorities should have sent out warning signals to all practitioners and also put in place an enabling policy.

“Thank God the Senate has come into it. It is within their reach to do that.”

He suggested that the Institution, which is tailored after the Institute of Structual Engineers in the United Kingdom, should be backed by an act of law.

“What the Senate will just do is create an enabling law for the competent practice of structural engineering in Nigeria.”

He however agreed that the use of substandard materials also play a major role in the collapse of building, adding that inclement or extreme weather conditions, act of God and human factors are the other reasons for building collapse.

“If after over 30 years, we have not been able to remove substandard materials from the market, then there’s an agency who is not working properly”, he noted.

Jonathan Visits Site Of Collapsed Synagogue Church Building

JonathanPresident Goodluck Jonathan has arrived the site of the collapsed six storey guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Ikotun Area of Lagos State, south west Nigeria.

The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) confirmed to reporters in Lagos that 78 people died as a result of the incident while many others were injured.

The Founder and General Overseer of the church, Temitope Joshua, popularly referred to as T.B Joshua, has linked the collapse  to a “strange aircraft” which he said hovered around the building before it collapsed.

While briefing journalists on the incident, the pastor provided a video evidence, showing a flying aircraft, to back his claim.

In the video, a plane was seen flying over the collapsed guest house belonging to the church at four different times, between 11:30 am and 11:54 am – on Friday morning. The building collapsed at about 1pm, on the same day.

He further alleged that he was the target of the hovering jet.

3 Dead, 5 Rescued in Benin Church Building Collapse

Church BuildingIt was a tragic day  as three people have been confirmed dead after a church building collapsed in Benin City on Friday.

The one-storey building, belonging to Christ Chosen Church Of God, collapsed at about 2pm in the Erhunse area of the city.

About 9 people were said to be demolishing the building, following the relocation of the church to a new structure, when it caved in, trapping the workers inside.

Speaking at the scene of the incident, the Commissioner of Police, Edo State Command, said that he got an anonymous call which prompted his quick intervention as an irate crowd threatened to set ablaze what was left of the property.

Synagogue: South African Relatives Condemn Inadequate Information As Rescue Ends

SynagogueMany anxious relatives are besieging the OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, hoping to see their loved ones return safely from Lagos after the Synagogue church building collapse last Friday.

However, for some it is a very frustrating wait as they complain that they are not getting any information about what has happened to them.

Channels Television Correspondent in South Africa, who was at the airport in Johannesburg early Thursday morning, spoke to some relatives who complained bitterly.

A team of Rescue Response experts from South Africa have joined the Nigerian Government efforts to manage the crisis.

SA officials say 67 South Africans died in the incident and many still unaccounted for.

Meanwhile, back in Nigeria, rescue operation at the site of the collapsed 6-storey guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations has ended on Thursday.

A combined team of the National and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency told journalists that there was no more trace of dead victims.

They revealed that the second phase of data collation and identification of victims has commenced.

The total final death figures released by the agencies is put at 80 with 131 survivors.

South African President, Jacob Zuma , said at least 67 South Africans died in the Friday’s accident at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos and has described it as one of the worst tragedies in South Africa’s recent history.

The collapse occurred when three extra storeys were being added to the existing two of a guest house in the church compound.

Led by the charismatic Prophet T.B. Joshua, the pentecostal church attracts a global following of Christians who believe Joshua is able to perform miracles including curing the ill and raising the dead.

Full Text: President Zuma’s Statement On South Africans In Synagogue Collapsed Building

Fellow South Africans,

I am greatly saddened to announce that 67 South Africans died and scores of others sustained injuries, after a building at the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed on Friday, 12 September 2014, in Lagos, in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This is a particularly difficult time for South Africa. Not in the recent history of our country have we had this large number of our people die in one incident outside the country.

Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues that have lost their loved ones in this heart-breaking tragedy. The whole nation shares the pain of the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who have lost their loved ones. We are all in grief.

As we mourn this sudden and tragic death of our fellow compatriots, I have directed the relevant Government departments and entities to act with the utmost urgency to ensure that we facilitate the movement of relevant family members to Nigeria to identify the bodies of their loved ones and to ensure that we repatriate the remains as soon as possible under the circumstances.

I would like to take this opportunity also to thank all family members and friends who have provided information to Government, which information has assisted the South African High Commission in Nigeria in its efforts to locate our fellow citizens.

I would also like to commend all affected families for their patience and resolve during this very painful period.

On behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, I would like to thank the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for their support during this difficult time. We also send our sincere condolences to the people of Nigeria and all other nations affected by this tragedy.

I would like to assure all affected families that the Government will provide all the necessary support.

Government will keep the public informed of developments around this tragedy.

May the souls of the departed compatriots rest in peace.

I thank you.

Issued by: the Presidency

Pretoria

Website: www.thepresidency.gov.za

Synagogue Building: Death Toll Rises To 60 As Woman Walks Out Alive

Synagogue building debris.The death toll of the collapsed building in the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos has risen to 60, as a 45 year old woman was rescued alive from the debris after four days.

Information provided by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) showed that 131 persons have been rescued from the rubble.

The woman, whose nationality has not been revealed, was found alive at about 2:00am with only minor injuries.

Meanwhile, the standard organisation of Nigeria has begun investigation into the materials used for the construction of the building, with iron rods and sand stones collected for laboratory test.

Earlier report had put the death toll at 45.

The building which was under construction before it collapsed on Friday afternoon, was also being used as a guest house for church members and visitors, especially foreigners.

As at the time of the collapse, people were living in the building.

An investigative panel would be set up as soon as the rescue and recovery phase is over, including the GM of LASEMA, the Ministry of Works, the Ministry of Physical Planning, Ministry of Health, and all other stakeholders.