Law News
Senate probes Synagogue’s building collapse

THE senate yesterday commenced a probe of the September 12 collapse of the building within the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, in Lagos State.

This is just as the youth wing of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, ANC, party has declared  that the founder of the church, Prophet T B Joshua should be barred from travelling until the investigation was complete. The Lagos State Government on its part explained why it is yet to come out with its position on the building collapse. A total of 115 persons allegedly lost their lives in the collapse while 131 people were rescued alive. 85 of the dead were said to be South Africans.

ANC wants TB Joshua barred from travelling
Meanwhile, South Africa, has expressed displeasure over claims that lives could have been saved had church officials not blocked access to rescue workers for three days.

A day after President Jacob Zuma of South Africa announced that scores of South Africans died in the incident and declared a day of mourning, Joshua announced he would travel to South Africa to meet survivors and their families.

FROM THE JAWS OF DEATH: South African Lindiwe Ndwandwe, points at the direction where she was rescued on September 20, after five days in the rubble of the collapsed guesthouse of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, Ikotun, Lagos. Photo by AFP.

Following TB Joshua’s plans to travel to South Africa, the youth wing of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress, ANC, party has declared that Joshua should be barred from travelling until the investigation was complete.

“TB Joshua should not be allowed to come to South Africa until we know what happened to our fellow countrymen at his church,” said a statement signed by Rebone Tau, chairman of the youth league’s international relations committee.

Also, Lagos lawyer, and human rights activist Femi Falana has raised an alarm that since this is an election year, the case may be swept under the carpet as some bigwigs in the society may be involved.

He said, “the probe of the collapse might indict some people, don’t forget too, that it is an election year and they don’t want to offend some bigwigs in the church and society through a probe.”

Joshua’s network took a full-page advertisement  on Monday, asking the Federal Government to probe the building collapse, which he has linked to a low-flying plane apparently seen circling over the building before it collapsed.

The probe should “bring to book all those involved in the obvious terror attack of the Church aimed at not only embarrassing and discrediting Prophet T.B. Joshua… but the entire nation of Nigeria,” the advert said.

Why we are yet to take action — LASG

However, Lagos State Government, yesterday, said it was waiting for a comprehensive report on the ongoing investigation into the cause of the collapse  before coming out with the appropriate position on the matter.

The government, promised that its agencies are already working to get a comprehensive report that would clearly tell Nigerians what truly happened.

Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Aderemi Ibirogba and the Special Adviser to the Governor on Media, Mr. Hakeem Bello, appealed to the media for understanding, stressing that the state government was working closely with the committee set up by the Federal Government to unravel the true cause(s) of the collapse.

According to them, “We are all aware that the Federal Government has set up a committee, what we are saying is that in order for us not to pre-empt  that committee and hold anyone responsible the best thing is for us to put this conference on hold.

“Agencies of government are working together so that at the end of the day we will have a comprehensive report. Before that is out, it will not be right for us to tell you the situation.”
He assured that as soon as investigation is concluded, the state government would come out with a position.

The commissioner said, “We know that time is of essence here and I believe the committee will work within the shortest time possible. For all your questions and concerns, I believe the comprehensive report will be exhaustive”.

Why buildings collapse —SENATE
The Senate, in a motion of public urgent interest, titled ‘The alarming rate of Building Collapse in Nigeria’ which was sponsored by Senator Abdulmumin Hassan representing Jigawa South West, was worried at the rate of building collapse in the country.

The Deputy Senate President, Senator Ike Ekweremadu who presided over the plenary said, “One of the reasons why buildings collapse is because some professionals delve into areas they are not very conversant with. There are instances of Surveyors doing the work of architects, doing the work of engineers or builders. When we have that kind of scenario, it is expected that the building may not have the required quality and prone to collapse.

“Secondly, a situation where those who supervise these buildings accept money and approve different stages without even visiting the sites, gives room for some kind of lapses that could lead to collapse of buildings.

“So I believe that those who are supposed to supervise buildings, regulate the industry and ensure compliance are not doing their work and where we have building collapse, those involved need to be punished and of course the professionals involved either lose their licenses or suspended from practice for a particular period to ensure that others will do their work the way it is supposed to be done.”

The senate in the resolution after observing one minute silence in honour of the victims of the Synagogue Church collapse in Lagos and other victims of building collapse across the country, urged all rescue operations in the country including the National Emergency management Agency, NEMA, Fire Service, Red Cross, Nigeria Police, Nigeria Army and the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps to always be at alert and facilitate rescue of lives and property in similar incidents.

It also urged the Federal and States ministries of Land and Housing, Standard Organisation of Nigeria, Council for Registration of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN and other regulatory agencies to wake up and ensure compliance with building rules and regulations.

Senator Hassan had in the motion lamented that the rate of building collapse in Nigeria in the recent past was not only alarming but horrifying, unfortunate and quite worrisome, adding that the menace had so far claimed several lives and property worth billions of naira.

Nigeria losing international relationship
In his contribution, Senator Ben Ayade representing Cross River North said that the rate of building collapse in the country was capable of making the country lose its relationship with the international community as well as lose business opportunities.

Senator Ayade also complained that religious leaders had become a problem as they always allege that one was attacking God whenever they were corrected or told on how to do things aright.

He said, “There is a relationship between this incident and the African concept of a Church and a worship place. Religious  organisations over times have assumed celestial height in a way and manner that most times, it is also difficult for those who are responsible for enforcing regulations to be able to enforce these regulations on Churches.

“I say this from the background of experience where it is almost a sacrilege from any arm of government to go to a Church building project to stop their construction work for any reason. This is not to provide an escapist explanation for what has happened, but what is very clear also is that if you look at those who are the regulators, they lack the basic tools in engineering.

“I also want to emphasize very clearly that even when we provide all the legal and complete steps on how the way and manner to regulate a structure, the time line the periodicity is never obeyed.”

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