by Akan Ido
The Divisional Police Officer in charge of the Ikotun division, CSP Haruna Alaba, has told the coroner at the ongoing inquest into the collapsed building at The Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) that the possibility of sabotage against the church has not been ruled out as one of the possible causes of the incident that left more than 100 people dead.
According to the Chief Superintendent of Police, going by the documented evidence he had seen, including the CCTV security footage of the collapsed building, it was possible that the building could have been bombed or demolished using explosives. These suspicions, he said, are still being thoroughly investigated to ensure that the true cause of the collapse is ascertained.
Speaking further, the DPO also observed that on the fateful day of the incident, an aircraft flying at a very low altitude had been sighted close to the building shortly before it went down like a pack of cards. Though, he agreed that it was not unusual to see aircraft flying above the Ikotun area due to its proximity to the airport, he however pointed out that the aircraft sighted on the day of the incident was flying unusually low such that even the police radio room went on air to announce the strange occurrence prior to the collapse.
While undergoing cross-examination by counsel to the Lagos State Government, Akingbolahon Adeniran, the DPO explained that despite the near-pandemonium that was witnessed on the day of the incident as a result of massive crowd, he and his men were able to achieve their goal of ensuring the enabling environment for the various rescue operators to carry out their duties.
This submission contradicted the account of the General Manager of LASEMA, Dr. Damilola Oke-Osanyintolu, which suggested that he and his team were assaulted and that the police did not help them in the discharge of their statutory duties. According to DCP Alaba, it was true that he and his men had a hectic time controlling the crowd which had built up around the entrance to the church, the development did not stop them from ensuring a hitch-free rescue operation.
He further observed that there were instances when people who could not properly identify themselves were barred from entering the premises, citing the fact that the measure helped in preventing the influx of criminals, hoodlums and other miscreants who could have seized the emergency situation to carry out their nefarious activities.
He said: “I am surprised that the LASEMA boss claimed that he was assaulted or was not given an enabling environment to operate. That’s not true. We worked together and he never once complained to me during or after the operation that he was hindered.
“My men were solely responsible for the admittance and rejection of personalities into the scene of incident. The church members didn’t constitute any nuisance as speculated in some quarters. What some fail to remember is that there is a market beside the church and that the street the church is located is a public place. Also, the government agencies only brought one excavator that I am aware only worked for a few hours before it packed up. It was Julius Berger who came to the rescue by moving in with heavy duty machines.”
He further added, “The police would not rule out the issue of sabotage because bombs could have been planted anywhere, including air conditioners. We will also investigate the issue of the plane because on that particular day, we got several complaints from our control room about the appearance of aircrafts flying too low for comfort. It created quite a panic among the residents”.
The presiding magistrate adjourned proceedings until Wednesday, 19th November, noting that Prophet T.B. Joshua would be expected in court the following day on Thursday.