Collapsed Synagogue building not registered, approved by Lagos govt

The Synagogue Church building which collapsed early September killing 116 people was never registered or approved by Lagos State authorities, a hearing into the cause of the disaster, heard Thursday.

The Lagos State Government said the collapsed guest house within the premises of the church, had no building permit. The building collapsed on September 12, killing more than 100, majority of them South Africans.

The Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olutoyin Ayinde, made the information known while testifying at the ongoing Coroner’s inquest into the incident.

Mr. Ayinde told the inquest chaired by Oyetade Komolafe that investigations carried out by the ministry showed that the six-storey building had no approval.

“From our records, we saw the approval in the name of Synagogue Church of All Nations dated Jan.26, 2004,” he said. “The approval was just for the main auditorium of the church. It was an approval for a five-floor development.”

He said on a visit to the site, a government team discovered that the building had been raised to an eighth floor; making the additional three floors illegal structures.

“For the collapsed building, we did not find anything relating to it in our records. It does not have our approval,” Mr. Ayinde said.

The commissioner also expressed safety concerns over the additional floors being constructed at the church auditorium.

“In the ongoing construction, there is a lift shaft that is being developed and one of the columns is not taking off from the ground floor. It is erected on a water tank.

“I don’t know if an engineer certified that but it should be investigated,” he said.
He added that the state government had developed an electronic document management system, EDMS, that captured all the building plans in the state from 1990 to 2012.

Mr. Ayinde said that following the visit to the church on September 21, his ministry wrote to the church requesting the architectural drawing of the collapsed building, names and addresses of the contractors, sub-contractors, consultants, and engineers; as well as evidence of laboratory test on the structure.

“Till date, we’ve not had a reply from the General Overseer,” he said.

According to the commissioner, other on-going construction at the church, during their visit, were of concern to his team.

“By the additional construction we saw on site, we are inclined to express some fears because we also saw some few things that were not right in the construction industry,” said Mr. Ayinde.

“One of the columns in the eight storey is resting on a water tank, not from the ground level. I don’t know which engineer allowed that to happen.”

Three days after the building collapse, Mr. Ayinde said officials from his ministry were sent to the church to check the coordinates of the site.

During cross examination by Olalekan Ojo, SCOAN’s lawyer, Mr. Ayinde said he did not have an offhand knowledge of the number of collapsed buildings in Lagos State.

Mr. Ayinde, however, admitted that approval plans had nothing to do with the structural stability of a building.

“Buildings do not stand firm or fall because there is no plan or building approval, unless you have conducted a test,” he said. “The mere fact that a person was granted a driver’s licence is not a guarantee he will drive safely. But if you do not have a plan for your building, you have created an avenue for the building to fail.”

Joseph Agbenla, the Surveyor-General of Lagos State, also testified before the coroner on Thursday.

Earlier, the South African High Commissioner, who had been billed to testify on Thursday requested for more time to conclude negotiations for legal representation. The coroner agreed.

Also, a lawyer attempted to remind the court that the coroner was joined in a suit challenging the composition of the inquest at the Federal High Court, Lagos. A visibly unimpressed Oyetade Komolafe, the coroner, asked the lawyer to leave the court room.

Olukoya Ogungbeje, a Lagos based lawyer, had approached a Federal High Court in Lagos praying for an order restraining the coroner from conducting further proceedings on the inquest. Joined as defendants in his suit were the Lagos State government, the attorney general of the state, and Mr. Komolafe (the coroner) as first to third defendants.

The matter is yet to be assigned to a judge. The inquest continues on November 5.


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  • amazing2012

    TB Joshua has sacrificed the blood of this innocent people to his evil spirit.

  • Godwin

    How come Premium Times did not report Ayinde’s inconsistencies relating to the issue of controlled demolition – as this report reveale?

    Under cross-examination by counsel to The SCOAN, Ojo Olalekan, Mr. Adedamola had agreed that the building, going by the first CCTV footage he watched, collapsed symmetrically typical of induced or controlled demolition. Moments later, while being cross-examined by counsel to the state, Akingbolahon Adeniran, he contradicted his earlier stance, claiming that after a second look at the CCTV footage, he had discovered that the building collapsed asymmetrically typical of structurally-deficient buildings.

    Furthermore, he agreed that a lack of building approval bears no semblance to its structural integrity. He said, “That a building does not have a plan is not a determinant of structural defects because there are buildings with plans officially that have collapsed. Yes, a building in Jakande Estate, Isolo recently collapsed due to structural defects even though it had a duly approved plan. When I watched the clips of the collapsed Synagogue building before the commencement of the coroner’s inquest, the building fell in one swoop which is typical of symmetric fall. I have heard of induced demolition but haven’t seen one before. In induced demolition, the building falls symmetrically as against asymmetric collapse, where a building falls due to structural defects. By this, the building collapses from the weakest point. However, the building I watched collapse in the CCTV footage didn’t tilt towards any weaker part”.

    • Please send this IMPORTANT MESSAGE to all who can do something about it:

      Like the U.K. Charity Commission, Nigeria needs to start prosecuting
      Religious Fraudsters. Also, Nigerian Officials must stop mixing Government with Religion.

  • Guguru

    Very sad! People died as a result.

  • tundemash

    Slam the rogue TB Joshua with multiple murder charges.

  • Dan Fulani

    How would it be if this were a mosque?