by Adedayo Ademuwagun
The coroner’s inquest concerning the Synagogue church building crash entered its second week today at the Lagos High Court in Ikeja.
Three witnesses testified at the sitting today. They’re Prof. John Obafunwa, the Lagos chief medical examiner; Oladotun Lasoju for the Lagos Material Testing Laboratory, and Ibrahim Farinloye for the National Emergency Management Agency.
Prof. Obafunwa said their autopsy showed that the dead victims died of crush injuries. He said, ‘The bodies were mutilated and severely crushed. They had multiple injuries, fractured bones, fractured limbs as well as skull injuries,’
The pathologist also said his team had begun DNA and dental analysis of the bodies in order to identify the people. He said the team is working with the South African Department of Health and would submit its final report soon.
Meanwhile, the coroner again urged families of victims to come to the court and submit identification details so they can get their bodies.
In his own testimony, Lasoju said the Lagos Material Testing Laboratory has begun testing materials that were used to construct the building. He said, “We visited the site as part of the rudiments in the investigation. I want to assure the court that the Lagos State Material Testing Laboratory is working assiduously and I believe the result will be out in a maximum period of three weeks.”
Farinloye’s testimony was the high point of today’s hearing. He was grilled for close to three hours about his agency, NEMA’s response to the accident from the first day onward. Farinloye is the NEMA head of operations, search and rescue.
He told the court that the church people harassed him and his men and impeded them from working when they got to the place on the first day. But the church’s lawyers questioned his narrative and tried to disprove his testimony. They tried to establish that the NEMA team didn’t arrive quickly enough and with all the needed equipment, and that the church had begun the rescue work before NEMA arrived.
The church’s lawyers also tried to prove that Farinloye made a mistake in thinking that the people who blocked him and his men were members or officials of the church, and tried to prove that NEMA faced problems because they didn’t liaise with authorised officials of the church. The NEMA boss sounded incoherent during this interrogation.
Meanwhile, people who tried to enter the court premises with placards in support of TB Joshua were blocked at the gates. This included the physically challenged people who were locked out last Friday.
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 Wednesday, October 29.