Coroner charges Synagogue church on collapsed building

protest-for-SCOAN-702x336The Coroner’s Court investigat­ing the collapse of a building within the premises of the Syna­gogue Church of All Na­tions (SCOAN), has found the church culpable for the tragic incident.

The six-storey building, which served as a guest house, had collapsed on September 12, 2014, killing 116 persons, which included 22 Nigerians and 85 South African nationals, five Be­ninoise and a Togolese. Six of the victims are yet to be identified till date.

The casualties comprised 60 males, 56 females, and a six year old child. The vic­tims, according to the coro­ner died by 12.30 hrs.

The coroner’s inquest was set up by the Lagos State Government to determine the cause of death of the victims.

Ten months after its inau­guration, the coroner deliv­ered its findings yesterday, amid a huge crowd of atten­dants and sponsored protest­ers.

The Coroner, Chief Mag­istrate Oyetade Komolafe, said the church breached all rules and regulations guid­ing construction of build­ings.

According to the coroner, structural failure “due to the combination of designs and detailing errors” caused the building to collapse, saying the church did not obtain building permits or approval in respect of the building.

Magistrate Komolafe said the insinuation that a roving aircraft, which hovered over the building shortly before its collapse, was responsible for the building collapse was out of it, saying foundation failure was the remote cause of the collapsed building.

Consequently, he recom­mended that the “Synagogue Church of All Nations be investigated and prosecuted by the relevant authority for not possessing necessary building permits.”

The coroner court also recommended that detailed ‘fitness for habitation test’ should be carried out on all the structures and buildings within the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, situated at Segun Irefin Street, Ikotun, Lagos State by the relevant author­ity.

Aside the indictment of the church, Chief Magis­trate Komolafe also recom­mended that the two struc­tural engineers that oversaw the construction of the col­lapsed building, Messrs Ol­adele Ogundeji and Akin­bela Fatiregun of Hardrock Construction Company Limited should be tried for criminal negligence by the relevant authority.

The Coroner Court also ordered that the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Iko­tun Police Station, CSP Ha­runa Alaba, should be trans­ferred forthwith from the Ikotun Police Station,saying that the DPO failed to take note of what was happening in his area and had to rely on information from the Police Headquarters.

The Coroner Court, which commenced sitting in October 2014, invited 32 witnesses to testify before it while it received 45 exhib­its.

All the witnesses ap­peared before the court to testify and give details of events that led to the col­lapse of the building but the founder of the church, Temitope Joshua, refused to honour the invitation of the coroner.

Rather, he dragged the Chief Magistrate Komolafe and the Coroner Court be­fore Justice Lateefa Okunnu of a Lagos High Court on the grounds that the court lacked the jurisdiction to summon him.

Justice Okunnu threw out the suit on the grounds that sections 26 and 27 of the Coroner’s System Law of Lagos State 2007 empowers the coroner to summon any witness to assist him in his fact-finding mission, point­ing out that there was noth­ing unusual in the summons extended to Joshua.

The embattled Prophet later took the matter to the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal where the matter is still pending.

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