Rescue workers search for survivors after a Synagogue Church of All Nations building collapsed in Lagos last year. File picture: Sunday Alamba
Rescue workers search for survivors after a Synagogue Church of All Nations building collapsed in Lagos last year. File picture: Sunday Alamba
Supporters of SCOAN founder carry placards outside Coroner Court on Wednesday while verdict was still being read by Mr. Komolafe at the High Court in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. 080715 Picture: Handout/Supplied
Supporters of SCOAN founder carry placards outside Coroner Court on Wednesday while verdict was still being read by Mr. Komolafe at the High Court in Ikeja, Lagos, Nigeria. 080715 Picture: Handout/Supplied

Lagos - The coroner inquest set up by the Lagos state government to investigate the collapse of a guest house in the Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan) has indicted the church for negligence.

In his verdict on Wednesday, coroner Oyetade Komolafe, a chief magistrate, ordered the prosecution of the contractors who constructed the collapsed building.

“Synagogue Church of All Nations should be investigated and be proceeded against under the law by the relevant authority for not possessing necessary building permits,” he said.

“The relevant authority should carry out a detailed ‘fitness for habitation test’ on all the structures/buildings within the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, situated at Segun Irefin St, Ikotun, Lagos State,” Komolafe said.

He also recommended that the architect, Oladele Ogundeji, and the contractor, Akinpela Fatiregun, of Hardrock Construction, be tried by a relevant authority for criminal negligence.

The coroner’s inquest was instituted 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 and how those who died were killed.

Komolafe, who read out the names, sexes, ages and addresses of the victims, said 116 people died as a result of the collapsed building, adding that six of them were yet to be identified by medical examiners.

He said 85 victims were South Africans, 22 Nigerians, two Beninoise and one Togolese. “It comprises 60 males and 56 females; among the male victims was a child of about six years.

“The varying injuries seen on the victims are consistent with blunt-force trauma that would normally be sustained from a collapsed building’.”

Komolafe in the judgment dismissed the suggestions of the church and its witnesses that the collapse was caused by a mysterious aircraft.

He said that from the CCTV footage of the incident and the testimony of the witness from the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency, the said aircraft flew more than 1 100 feet above the building.

“The aircraft was 103 floors above the collapsed building. There was no direct hovering of the aircraft above the building, and people could be seen going about their normal business activities when the incident occurred,” the coroner said.

He also dismissed the testimony of explosives and weapons expert Biedomo Iguniwei that the building may have collapsed due to infrasonic radiation.

There was no carbon monoxide found in the lungs of any of the victims to have suggested there was a bomb or fire incident.

Komolafe added that the reports tendered by the Nigerian Building and Research Institute, Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria and the Building Collapse Prevention Guild all pointed to a structural defect in the construction of the building.

He said the agencies had claimed that the building collapsed due to the undersizing of its beams and columns.

The coroner recommended that individuals or organisations must endeavour to obtain relevant building permits before starting any building construction.

He advised individuals and organisations to use the services of qualified and competent engineers or consultants in carrying out building construction.

The coroner also recommended the transfer of CSP Haruna Alaba, the divisional police officer, from Ikotun police station for not fulfilling his responsibilities.

The coroner urged the government and ancillary bodies to educate the public on the need to allow the statutory/first responders to perform their duties during rescue operations and not take over their duties.

He called for the costs of obtaining necessary building permits to be lowered in order to encourage individuals and organisations to go through the due process of obtaining them before building.

Independent Foreign Service