Professional builders in Lagos have faulted the claims by Temitope Joshua, founder of The Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, that a “strange aircraft” that had hovered several times over a building in the premises caused its collapse.
A five-storey building inside the church’s premises in Ikotun, Lagos, collapsed on September 12 as three additional floors were being added to the original two-storey structure.
Eighty-six dead bodies – although several more are feared dead – were recovered from the rubble and 131 rescued, according to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.
Although investigations are still ongoing, NEMA had suggested that the extra floors being added to the building could be a factor in the incident.
But Mr. Joshua, popularly known as T.B. Joshua, citing video footages from the church’s Closed Circuit Television, CCTV, had blamed the incident on a “strange aircraft” that flew several times over the building before it collapsed.
Several church members who survived the incident have also continued to toe Mr. Joshua’s line of argument, dismissing suggestions that a structural default could have caused the incident.
All the survivors spoke after Mr. Joshua had propounded his strange aircraft theory.
Shadrack Mamzini, who took a photograph of the aircraft, said that he initially worried that the aircraft was flying too low for the building.
“By the time the incident happened, there was a lot of talks on it, that maybe the structure was poor… Until the man of God revealed what really happened that I went back to check my photos, all the photos I had taken,” Mr. Mamzini, a South African national, told Emmanuel TV, the church’s TV arm.
Taiwo Temitayo, who said he was trapped under the rubble for 28 hours, described the building collapse as a “demonic attack.”
“One thing I’m 100 percent certain of is that, because I don’t want to start naming things, it wasn’t a building collapse because this was a building that was meant to last for generations,” Mr. Temitayo, 28, told journalists in an interview arranged by the church.
But several professional builders interviewed by PREMIUM TIMES on Monday said that an aircraft hovering above a building cannot lead to its collapse.
“That is not the only structure within that area and I’m sure the aircraft will not be on that their particular one for long, it must have been hovering around,” said Asimiyu Bashir, Chairman of Lagos chapter of the Nigerian Institute of Building.
“Last year, when I was coming back from Benue State or so, I got to Lagos and we could not come down. For over one hour we were hovering around, how many buildings collapsed? And we were looking at the top of buildings the level at which that aircraft came close to the building. I don’t think it’s a possibility,” Mr. Bashir added.
Another professional, Adekemi Okusaga, said that she had never heard where a building collapsed because of an aircraft hovering above it.
“The first question that we want to ask is, they should show us the approval plan,” said Mrs. Okusaga of the Building Collapse-prevention Guild, BCG, a group that aims to tackle building collapse in Lagos.
“Who is the structural engineer? Who is the engineer that supervised the construction. If they are able to give us a clue to all those answers, then we know where we are going,” she added.
‘No approval plan, no insurance’
Last week, the Lagos State government stated that the collapsed building had no approval plan for its construction.
Mr. Bashir said that his association was not also carried along in the project.
“In Lagos State, for any building approval a builder must be involved, and there is a particular form, they call it Form C, that a builder should sign,” Mr. Bashir said.
“Up till today, none of my members in Lagos State have come out to say he signed Form C for that project. Builders are not involved in that and it is a must that they must be involved in things like that,” he added.
Mr. Bashir said that no insurance company had also come forward to declare that it insured the property, since the incident occurred.
“In Lagos State, there is a gazette, any building above two floors must have insurance (cover) on that particular project. No insurance company has come out to say he insured that building.
“People said the approval was buried when that collapsed happened. If none of my members, a registered builder in Lagos State, has come out to say he signed that Form C. No insurance company has laid claims that it insured that building, then something must have gone wrong.
“A committee has been set up by the Lagos State government, they are still working, I don’t want to pre-empt the outcome of the committee,”he added.
A day after the church building collapsed, Mrs. Okusaga said that her organization, which works with artisans as well as professionals, invited all its members to find out those working on the project.
“We brought in our artisans, none of them could tell us that he was the one that did. We couldn’t get anyone to point who did the job,” Mrs. Okusaga said.
“The question now is, who are the professionals that did the job? We are not contesting that they have professionals or that they can’t come from anywhere, but show us the professionals, that is the question.
“In a situation where you are asking for facts and figures and you are not able to get it, the rest is a guess,” she added.
Mrs. Okusaga also said they approached the church to get information on the incident.
“Our own responsibility is to go there, take samples of the material used, which we did; ask for who and who are the professionals on the job, which we did; ask for who and who are the artisans on the job, which we did,” she said.
“We are still expecting answers to our questions,” she added.