by Adedayo Ademuwagun
The coroner’s inquest concerning the Synagogue church building crash continued today at the Lagos High Court in Ikeja. The Red Cross and the Building Collapse Prevention Guild were present to give their report.
The Red Cross spokesman Ige Oladimeji told the court that the church people didn’t bar him and his team from entering the collapse site. He said that when they got to the premises on day 1 and identified themselves as the Red Cross, the people let them in and cooperated with them.
“When we got to the place, we met NEMA and LASEMA there, but we didn’t see them carrying out any rescue operations. Some volunteers, presumably from the church, were already at the site evacuating victims and moving them to the hospital in ambulances. The church provided those ambulances. So what we did was to work with them in the rescue operations. The church response was good,” Oladimeji said.
By the way, the NEMA chief Ibrahim Farinloye said yesterday that the church people prevented him and his men from entering the site place or doing any work on that first day.
The coroner thought the Red Cross should know how many people died or were injured from the accident, but Oladimeji said he doesn’t have any specific data on that. “It was an emergency, and so our focus was to save lives, not record data,” he said.
The Lagos Building Collapse Guild is an NGO that works to raise awareness about construction standards and building collapse prevention. When the coroner asked their spokesman, Engr. Busola Adejobi, how their report is coming along, he said it’s not coming along.
He said, “We’ve visited the site and we’ve collected some of the debris in order to test the quality of the construction material. But we’re an NGO and cannot afford the tests. Also, we’ve asked the church to give us certain details about the building, but they’ve not done this. The government ministry in charge of building approvals have also not given us the information regarding the government approval for the collapsed building. These are the things limiting us.”
The coroner said the guild would still be able to help with the case anyway. He said, “We want to have an independent body taking part in the investigation so it won’t look like it’s a government thing. So we’ll need you to continue with us and when the other agencies are giving their report, you can ask questions and continue to assist us with the investigation.”
This inquest is an inquiry into the manner and cause of the building crash, and it’s headed by Alexander Komolafe. It’s not a regular court in that people aren’t being prosecuted and there are no trials. The purpose of the coroner’s sittings is simply to find out the facts and establish the truth.
The inquest will continue tomorrow Thursday, October 30.