Sunday, March 7, 2021

Synagogue Church building had no cracks, defective signs before collapse, witness tells court


Rayyan Alhassan
Rayyan Alhassan
Rayyan Alhassan is a 30-year-old graduate of Journalism and Mass Communication at Sikkim Manipal University, Ghana. He is the acting Managing Editor at the Daily Nigerian newspaper, a position he has held for the past 3 years. He can be reached via [email protected], or, or @Rayyan88 on Twitter.
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A witness, Architect Dayo Fabiyi, has told a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere that the Synagogue Church of all Nations, SCOAN building was in generally good conditions with no defections before its collapse.

Recall that in September 12, 2014, the SCOAN church building had collapsed in Lagos, killing over 116 worshipers.

However, Mrs Fabiyi told the court, presided by Justice Lateefat Lawal-Akapo, that there were no cracks, deflection or any defect noticed on the building the last time it was checked before it collapsed.

READ ALSO: 3,235 Nigerians die in building collapse – official

 “I usually carried out my duties on Tuesdays and Fridays and I go round the facilities to check the general conditions of the buildings so as to be sure everything is in order,” Mrs Fabiyi added.

Defendants in the matter are two engineers; Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, who were charged alongside their companies – Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd.

They are facing trial on a 110-count charge of involuntary manslaughter while the Registered Trustees of SCOAN were charged with a one-count charge of building without approval. They were accused of violating Section 75 of the Urban and Regional Planning Law of Lagos State, 2010 as well as Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011 and arraigned on April 19, 2016.

At the resumed hearing of the matter, the witness who said he bagged Bsc in Architecture and Masters in Environmental design while being led in evidence by the defense counsel, Olalekan Ojo, SAN, informed the court that he is also a volunteer worker at SCOAN Maintenance Department since February 2014, adding that as a maintenance  personnel; “we often spend over an hour during the routine check and September 14, 2014, was the last day we carried out a check on the building before the incident.

However, during cross-examination by the state prosecutor, Dr Jide Martins, he affirmed that he was not involved in the investigation of the beams of the collapsed building but maintained that cracks and defections are always visible to the eyes.

READ ALSO: Two-storey-building collapses in Warri

He also agreed that he did not use any mechanical devices to check for defections during his maintenance but during ‘re-examination by  the first defendant’s counsel, Diyun Oluseye, he said that it is not only civil engineers that notices cracks on a building and mechanical devices are only used to investigate deflections after the building has already collapsed not before

“The building must show signs that it’s been stressed or weak before it collapses but SCOAN building did not show any signs of stress,” he said.

Earlier, another defense witness, Engr. Ebenezer Ologuntoye had told the court that apart from foundational failure, other factors could be responsible for a building collapse and had said that scientific tests conducted on the foundation of the collapsed building indicated that the foundation of the building and the bearing capacity were adequate.

The witness who said he was involved in the Mile 12/Ikorodu Road project, though not directly contracted by the Lagos State Government disclosed that, “as a civil engineer, apart from foundational failure, other factors can be responsible for the collapse of a building.”

The sixth defense witness, Mr Olusegun Jimoh, the head of data unit in the Nigeria Metrological Agency in Abuja who was subpoenaed to court to present the certified true copy of the maximum and minimum atmospheric temperatures collated over time in Lagos State attested that, “we have a data processing unit which we use in sending such data to clients who requested for it. In this case, the data was sent by hard copy and the data sent covered the maximum and minimum temperatures of each month from January to December of 2004 to 2018 in Lagos,” Jimoh said.

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