After an inquest that lasted 10 months, the Coroner appointed by the Lagos State government to probe the collapse of a six-storey building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) that killed 116 people, has indicted the church of “criminal negligence” and recommended that it be prosecuted.
The Coroner, Oyetade Komolafe, who is also a Chief Magistrate, also ruled that the contractors in charge of the building, Oladele ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun of Hardrock Construction Limited should be tried alongside the church, for criminal negligence.
On 12 September, 2014, the six-storey building which was being refurbished from its original two-storey collapsed killing 116 worshipers, mostly South Africans, who were having lunch in the ground floor.
The Lagos state government said the church did not obtain the requisite permit to add more floors to the building.
The founder of the Church, Temitope Joshua, claimed the building was sabotaged. He claimed that a “mysterious” aircraft which allegedly flew over the building moments before it collapsed, was responsible for the collapse. He later said the jihadist group, Boko Haram, were responsible for the collapse.
The church also did everything to frustrate the inquest including contesting the summons by the judge, for Mr. Joshua to testify during the inquest.
Mr. Oyetade held that SCOAN did not obtain the relevant building permit/approval from the Lagos State Government in respect of the collapsed building, adding that the foundation failure is a remote cause of the collapse of the six storey building.
“The church must be investigated and prosecuted for not obtaining the relevant approval before embarking on the construction of the building,” Oyetade Komolafe said.
“The church was culpable because of criminal negligence resulting in the death of the victims. Structural failure due to the combination of designs and detailing errors caused the building to collapse,” he held.
Mr. Oyetade said the injuries sustained by the dead was consistent with blunt force trauma that would usually be sustained from a collapsed building.
He noted that most of the victims sustained various injuries ranging from haemorrhage, loss of limbs, crushed bones, multiple rib fractures, perforation of the lungs, destruction of left tibia vessels, strangulation, and chest wounds.
He said the alleged aircraft which SCOAN claimed hovered over the building minutes before it collapsed was not the cause of the collapse of the building.
Mr. Oyetade called out the names of the 116 victims and gave specific detail on the causes of their deaths. He said 60 of them were males and 56 females including a six-year-old child. He said six of the victims were yet to be identified. Eighty-five of the victims were South Africans, 22 Nigerians, 2 Beninoise and 2 Togolese nationals.
Mr. Komolafe also ruled that the Haruna Alaba, Divisional Police Officer (DPO) of Ikotun, where the church is domiciled should be transferred as he has become too compromised to lead a credible investigation. He said Mr. Alaba failed to take note of what was happening in his area and had to rely on information from the police headquarters.
Support PREMIUM TIMES' journalism of integrity and credibility
Good journalism costs a lot of money. Yet only good journalism can ensure the possibility of a good society, an accountable democracy, and a transparent government.
For continued free access to the best investigative journalism in the country we ask you to consider making a modest support to this noble endeavour.
By contributing to PREMIUM TIMES, you are helping to sustain a journalism of relevance and ensuring it remains free and available to all.
TEXT AD: To advertise here . Call Willie +2347088095401...