…. SCOAN rejects Coroner’s verdict
Following the verdict of the Coroner’s inquest on the September 12, 2014 Synagogue building collapse which indicted the church, the Lagos state governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode has pledged to prosecute the founder, Pastor T.B Joshua, the structural engineer, contractor as well as the church, The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations.
It will be recalled that the six-storey building killed 116 people, 22 of whom were Nigerians, 85 South Africans, two Benioise and one Togolese.
The Governor, in a statement signed by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Aruna, said his government would enforce the sanctity of the law in the state while urging Lagos residents to respect the rule of Law.
“His Excellency hereby reiterates his Government’s commitment to uphold and enforce the sanctity of the law in the state and calls on all Lagos resident to respect the rule of law”, the statement said.
The Governor said the state government “will cause the prosecution of the contractor, Engineer Akinbela Fatiregun of Hardrock Engineering Company Limited and Structural Engineer, Oladele Ogundeji who constructed and supervised the collapsed building respectively at the Synagogue Church of All Nations for professional negligence”.
The Governor said that the state government would also prosecute the Synagogue Church of All Nations for neglecting to obtain building approval before commencing the building, contrary to the provisions of the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2010.
“He enjoins land owners within the state who intend to embark on construction to employ the services of qualified and competent engineers who must obtain building permit before construction”, the statement said.
The Coroner’s inquest, presided over by Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe had called for investigation of the church and suggested detailed fitness test on all the structures within the premises.
While giving the summary of his findings, Chief Magistrate Komolafe pointed out that the death of the victims was consistent with blunt force trauma that would normally be sustained from a collapsed building.
“Structural failure due to the combination of designs and detailing errors caused the building to collapse,” he held.
However, a statement by the church’s counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, claimed that the coroner report ‘left many issues unaddressed and questions unanswered.’
The statement read in part: “The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) rejects the verdict of the coroner on the grounds that it is unreasonable, one-sided and biased. The church maintains its stand that the incident was as a result of sabotage.
“From the verdict given yesterday, we would like the public to take note of the following: There was no finding that the church engaged the services of unqualified or incompetent professionals for the construction of the building.
“There was no finding that the church procured substandard materials for the construction of the building, as confirmed by officials of the Standards Organization of Nigeria (SON) who gave evidence at the coroner and certified the materials used were all approved and of good quality.
“There was evidence that the church had started processing the relevant building approval before the incident, which had been approved and assessed for payment by the appropriate government bodies.
“There was no finding that connected the incident with the lack of a building permit.”