Synagogue building: Coroner admits structural, architectural designs as exhibits

The coroner inquest into the collapsed six-storey guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations on Friday admitted the structural and architectural design as exhibits. 


Headed by a magistrate, Komolafe Oyetade, the inquest listened to the testimony of the structural engineer, Oladele Ogundeji. 


Mr. Ogundeji during his cross examination agreed with the testimony of the contractor, Akingbola Fatiregun, that the building did not collapse due to structural failure. 


He further maintained that the quality of materials used for the building was up to standard as he relied on the result of the Lagos state Material Testing Agency which confirmed that the building materials including the reinforcement steel and cement was standard.


‎The structural engineer maintained the project ‎was a technological course as the building materials could be verified. 


“The Lagos government through its agency okayed the columns, reinforcement and foundation footage despite the stress due to the collapse, yet the materials still passed the tests,” he told the coroner. 


“The client told me that the client will procure materials, contractor will provide labour. I gave specification for granite- three-quarter downward. For the reinforcement, I told the client to go to go to the manufacturer and it was gotten from a major distributor. I asked the client to request for the test certificate of the reinforcements and it was given. I saw the test certificates and they (the materials) passed the test.” 


The witness added that ‎the cement used for the construction of the building was not more than two weeks old.


“I advised the client to buy cement from the factory and they went ahead to buy from a major distributor of Dangote and I told them the cement should not be more than two weeks old.”


He said the building followed specifications in the plan adding that he ensured he was on site anytime casting work was going on. “I go there personally, I do not send my workers” he said. 


‎He disagreed with the suggestion by the Lagos ‎State Material Testing Agency‎ that the foundation of the collapsed building was inadequate. The agency in its report said a raft foundation would have been better. 


“My reaction would be maybe the person the person has not done his work well. Maybe he’s not done a six storey building before. No structural engineer can design such a building with a geo-technical engineer. We need their data,” he stated. 


‎Mr. Ogundeji, just like the contractor, linked the collapse to a controlled demolition. 


“It came down all of a sudden within about four seconds and if it were structural failure, it won’t have come down like that. From my point of view, it must have been induced scientifically. I don’t know the means. It’s a 30metres tall building, before it reached ground, it should have tilt,” he told the coroner. 


When questioned about the building approval, just like the contractor, Mr. Ogundeji said it was the client’s responsibility to get the building approval. 


“The client supposed to get approval. Notwithstanding, the drawings by the engineers were enough to start work on a site,” he said. 


Questioned if he could work without the approval, he said, “Yes, I can work without approval. As a supervising engineer, the certified copies of architectural and engineering drawing were enough for me to work.”


The coroner inquest, set up to investigate the cause of the collapsed guest house which killed over 100 persons, was adjourned till Monday, March 2.

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