Law News
Coroner rules on Synagogue tragedy July 8

The Lagos coroner probing the circumstances surrounding the deaths of 116 persons in the September 12, 2014 Synagogue Church Of All Nations building collapse, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe, has fixed July 8, 2015 to give his verdict.

Komolafe fixed the date on Tuesday after he had entertained final written addresses and summary arguments from the lawyers representing the various parties.

The inquest, which began on October 13, 2014, had taken testimonies from various individuals and agencies that were summoned.

Canvassing his final argument on Tuesday, counsel for SCOAN, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, said it was obvious from the various testimonies and evidences placed before the coroner that the six-storey guest house did not collapse as a result of structural defect.

He said the building was properly contracted to competent engineers and was built to standard.

The lawyer added that if there was any need to question anyone on the reason for the collapse of the guest house, it should be the engineers and not the church.

While supporting the claim that the building was felled through sabotage, Ojo made reference to the testimony of a 37-year-old graduate of Chemistry from the University of Maiduguri, Mr. Biedomo Iguniewe, who had suggested that the building might have collapsed due to infrasonic radiation.

Ojo said Biedomo’s evidence was never contradicted.

While insisting that non-existence of a building approval had no bearing on the structural integrity of a building, Ojo advised the Lagos State government to take appropriate steps to regularise the building construction and approval applications shown to be pending with the relevant state agencies.

In its submission, the Building Collapse Prevention Guild said it was unable to establish any foundational failures in the collapsed building. The guild however insisted that the collapse might have been caused by structural failure.

In its own submission, the Lagos State government insisted that the inquest must be guided by section 40 of the coroner’s law, which bestowed on it the responsibility to find out who the deceased were, when and how they died.

The government noted that since the issue of the identities of the deceased and when they died had been resolved by the pathological report prepared by the state Chief Forensic Pathology, Prof. John Obafunwa, the inquest must only concern itself with how the victims died.

The state noted that in finding how the victims died, four issues must be resolved, which are lack of access to the collapsed building site, illegality in the construction of the building, alleged sabotage and structural defects.

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