Experts urge govt to seize collapsed Synagogue property

THE PUNCH Newspaper

Built environment experts have urged the Lagos State Government to confiscate the site of the collapsed six-storey building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations.

The incident, as of Monday evening, had claimed 49 lives, while no fewer than 130 people were said to have been rescued.

A former Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr. Bolaji Abosede, said the government should check its record to see the approval granted the church. He added that if Synagogue was found to have erected any structure without approval, there should be no double standards in the application of the law.

He said, “Lagos should check its record and once it is found out that the church is negligent; the government should confiscate the land, no double standard.

“If the owner of the building did not apply for approval or professionals were not involved, then he is liable for the disaster.”

Also, the President, Building Collapse Prevention Guild, Mr. Kunle Awobodu, lamented that the government was not addressing the issue of building collapse seriously in the country.

He said the government should equip the necessary agencies in charge of housing in the state to prevent tragedies such as the Synagogue collapse.

He urged the appropriate authorities to exercise discretion on confiscation, saying structures belonging to the government had also collapsed.

“We are investigating the Synagogue issue and we think the government should address the issue of building collapse more seriously by applying the relevant laws,” he said.

COREN, Lagos investigate

The Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria on Monday vowed to unravel the immediate and remote causes of the collapse of the six-storey building.

The council, in a statement issued in Abuja by its President, Kashim Ali, said it had mobilised its team of Engineering Regulation Monitoring Inspectors to visit the site of the collapsed building.

It said while preliminary report of the visit had been received, a more detailed investigation was ongoing.

The statement reads in part, “Council wishes to commiserate with the governor, the government, the people of Lagos State and the General Overseer of the Church, Prophet T. B. Joshua and his congregation, over this unfortunate loss.

“COREN has mobilised its team of Engineering Regulation Monitoring Inspectors to visit the site. The preliminary report of the visit has been received and this is being processed while a more detailed investigation is ongoing.”

Meanwhile, the Lagos State Building Control Agency has set up a panel to investigate the cause of the collapsed building.

A source at the agency told one of our correspondents that the result of the integrity test on the building would be out in 10 days.

“We can’t make further comments until the results of the test are out in 10 days time. We have to conduct integrity test on the building,” the source said.

The General Manager of the agency, Mrs. Abimbola Animashaun, had earlier said the church had no approval for a six-storey structure.

Relatives storm church

Some relatives of victims of the building collapse on Monday stormed the SCOAN premises, searching for news of their loved ones.

The relative of one of the dead victims, identified simply as Gbenga, one of the carpenters in the church, was at the scene.

They went to the church with a coffin in a commercial bus. They were, however, denied entry by security men at the gate.

They became agitated and soon there was a confrontation between the relatives and security men. The incident was brought under control by some officials of the church who pleaded for calm.

One of the relatives later told PUNCH Metro that they had identified the corpse of Gbenga, but could not claim the corpse because they were told to get approval from the church authorities or the police.

The relative, who declined to mention his name, said, “Gbenga left home since Friday for this place to work. He was a carpenter and one of the labourers working on the building before it collapsed.

“We were able to indentify his corpse at the morgue. We wanted to take the corpse for burial, but they are saying we should get a clearance from the police or the church authorities. We are Muslims and Gbenga must be buried according to Islamic rites.”

Meanwhile, the parents of a three year-old girl rescued from the site and taken to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital, Ikeja, have yet to be found.

The girl, who is receiving treatment at the hospital, has yet to be claimed by her parents or any guardian.

The Consultant and head, Surgical Emergency Department of the Hospital, Dr. Ibrahim Mustapha, told our correspondent on Monday that though the girl was fit to be discharged, she could not go home as her parents had yet to be identified .

Mustapha said another victim, a male, who sustained some bruises on the head and arm was also fit to be discharged.

He said, “The two victims of the collapsed building are responding well to treatment and will be discharged soon. One of the victims, a child, will be discharged today, but we cannot find her parents.

“We are hoping that any parent or relative looking for their child will come to LASUTH with proof.”

The other survivor, who refused to give his name, told PUNCH Metro that he had come to visit a friend at the guest house on Friday before the building collapsed.

Police to probe terror claim

The Assistant Inspector General of Police, Zone 2 Command, Onikan, Umar Manko has said the police were investigating the cause of the building collapse and the claim by the founder of the church, Prophet T.B. Joshua, that Boko Haram was responsible.

Manko made the statement during a visit to the church on Monday.

Manko said, “His (Joshua) claim is just an allegation, subject to investigation.

“The outcome of the police investigation will determine the real cause of the building collapse.”

Also, The National Emergency Management Agency said the police had approved the release of sniffer dogs to assist in locating trapped victims.

NEMA Public Relations Officer, South West Zone, Ibrahim Farinloye, said this through a text message sent to one of our correspondents.

He added that the death toll in the incident that occured on Friday had risen to 49, while the number of the survivors still remained at 130.


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