Synagogue: Witness narrates how emergency response personnel were restrained from collapse site

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A Lagos High Court in Ikeja on Thursday heard that some members of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), barricaded the entrance for emergency response personnel into the church’s collapsed guest house.

A fourth witness for the prosecution, Mr Adesola Kabir, gave the evidence at the resumed hearing of a suit by the Lagos State Government against Engineers of the church over alleged negligence.

Recall that a Guest House within the premises of the Synagogue Church had collapsed on Sept. 12, 2014 leading to the death of over 100 persons.

At the resumed hearing of the case on Thursday, the witness, a Liason Officer with the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), began his testimony.

He insisted that there was a serious argument between his team and the church’s security operatives as regards their entrance into the collapse site.

The witness said that this lingered on for sometime, before they finally gained entrance into the scene.

He testified, “We had some challenges on the part of the members of the church because they did not want us to get to the scene of the collapsed guest house.

“A LASEMA camera was even smashed when we attempted to take photo shots, but at night when the church members had left, we were able to work more.

“When the then Lagos state governor, Babatunde Fashola came, he ordered that LASEMA and other responders should be allowed to do their work.

“It was at that point that we were allowed full access to the collapse site.”

After his testimony, the trial judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, adjourned further trial to Dec. 15.

Recall that following the collapse of the SCOAN’s guest house, the Lagos State Government had set up a coroner’s inquest, to ascertain the cause of death.

The inquest, presided by Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe in its verdict, indicted the Synagogue Church for criminal negligence and recommended that it be prosecuted.

The Coroner also indicted the Church’s structural engineers- Mr Akinbela Fatiregun and Mr Oladele Ogundeji, and recommended that they be investigated and tried for criminal negligence.

Consequently, the Lagos state government had preferred a 111-count charge against the Registered Trustees of SCOAN alongside the two engineers over criminal negligence, manslaughter and failure to obtain a building permit. (NAN)

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