Synagogue: Lagos court orders showing of collapsed building footage

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The trial of the two engineers charged with killing 116 persons in the collapsed seven-storey guest house of Synagogue Church of All Nations took a new turn on Tuesday when the footage of the disaster was showed in court.

The engineers are Akinbela Fatiregun and Oladele Ogundeji.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the video was showed in the crowded courtroom on the order Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo after admitting it as evidence in a short ruling.

The footage showed an aircraft hovering above the seven-storey building moments before it collapsed and the frightened bystanders.

NAN reports that during the proceedings on June 27, the Defence led by Chief E.L. Akpofure (SAN) had objected to the footage being admitted as evidence because it was “computer-generated, irrelevant and a copy of the original.’’

Akpofure had also noted that a witness for the State, Mr Olutoyin Ayinde, a former Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, had in his evidence, said he could not identify the contents of the compact disc containing the footage until he was allowed to watch it.

However, at the resumed hearing on Tuesday, Justice Lawal-Akapo dismissed the objection of the Defence for lack of merit.

“I find no merit in the objections, they are overruled, the video clip and accompanying documents are admitted in evidence,’’ he ruled.

Lawal-Akapo said the prerogative of a court in admitting a document as evidence was its relevance.

“For a document to be tendered in evidence the guiding principle is relevance and not custody; the questions to ask is whether the document is needed and admissible in law.

“Applying the above test, the document about to be tendered satisfies the above conditions and Section 54 of the Evidence Act.

“The argument of Mr Olalekan Ojo that the document is a secondary evidence is grossly misplaced,’’ the judge said.

During the cross-examination of Ayinde by Akpofure, the former Commissioner, told the court that he visited the site of the collapsed building twice.

“I visited the site twice on Sept.14 and Sept. 21, 2014 and I cleared all unofficial rescuers from the site and left those rescuers recognised by the Federal Government and the Lagos State Government.

“On Sept. 22, my office gave instructions to the investigative agencies to probe the foundation of the building,’’Ayinde said.

NAN also reports that the engineers — Akinbela Fatiregun and Oladele Ogundeji alongside their companies — Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd and the trustees of the church are facing a 111-count charge bordering on gross negligence and criminal manslaughter.

The incident which occurred on Sept. 12, 2014, led to the death of 116 persons, 85 of who were South Africans.

The case has been adjourned to Oct. 10, Oct. 11 and Oct.12 for continuation of trial. (NAN)

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