The founder of The Synagogue Church of all Nations, Temitope Joshua,popularly known as T.B. Joshua, has described the victims of last Friday’s building collapse in the church as “martyrs of the Kingdom of God.”
In an official statement issued by the church, Wednesday, Mr. Joshua also denied claims that the church had not cooperated with government agencies during search and rescue operations.
“Since the day of this incident, The Synagogue Church of All Nations, its members and partners, have worked in collaboration with the Nigerian, South African and other nations’ authorities to ensure that survivors are rescued, attended to with the best medical treatment, cared for in the most humane and hospitable manner and reunited with their families, while those who passed on- martyrs of the Kingdom of God – are retrieved, identified and treated respectfully,” Mr. Joshua said.
“Amongst those we are working hand-in-hand with are: The Federal Government of Nigeria, the Government of the Republic of South Africa, Lagos State Government, the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), the Lagos State Ministry of Health – doctors and nurses, the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON), the Red Cross, the Nigeria Police Force and various Non-governmental and humanitarian organizations and construction and engineering corporations.”
A five-storey building inside the church’s premises at Ikotun, Lagos, collapsed last Friday as three additional floors were being added to the original two-storey structure.
The Lagos State government has said that it is investigating whether the church obtained building approval before it began the construction.
As at Wednesday night, the death toll had risen to 80 dead and 131 rescued, according to the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA.
On Tuesday, President Jacob Zuma of South Africa announced that 67 South Africans perished in the building collapse. The South African authorities also cited the church’s non-cooperation with its officials as one of their greatest challenges.
While Mr. Joshua did not address the claims on whether or not the church obtained government approval for the collapsed building, he emphasised that the church had “provided assistance” to rescue agencies.
“It is very sad that inaccurate reports are coming from some quarters that we are not cooperating with the rescue teams and other agencies in collating information and providing assistance on the incident,” Mr. Joshua said.
“Contrary to this, we want to categorically state that the church has provided assistance when and where required and continues to do so – good Christians are good citizens.
“We emphasise our commitment to cooperate with all relevant authorities in establishing the cause of the collapse of the building.
“The church views this tragedy as part of an attack on The Synagogue Church of All Nations and in particular, Prophet T.B. Joshua. In due course, God will reveal the perpetrators of this unfortunate tragedy,” he added.