Law News
Synagogue Building Collapse: Finally, Church Furnishes Court with Lodgers’ List

The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) on Wednesday finally filed a comprehensive list of the names of lodgers at its guest house which collapsed at Ikotun area of Lagos, before the Coroner Court investigating the circumstances that led to the collapse of the guest house.

The inquest presided over by Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe had repeatedly asked the church to make the list available on the request of the Pathologist and Chief Medical Examiner of the state, Professor John Obafunwa, since the list would aid proper identification of the bodies recovered from the collapsed guest house.

Obafunwa had in his testimony before the court on Tuesday stressed the importance of the lodgers’ list  which would aid the  release of the bodies to their respective families and that it would also aid the quick submission of his final report, which he promised would be ready in three weeks.

The Lagos State Government had constituted the Coroner’s Inquest under the Lagos State Coroner’s System Law No. 7 of 2007, to investigate the cause and circumstances resulting in the death of 166 people following the collapse of the six-storey guest house and bring its findings and recommendations to the appropriate authorities.
Magistrate Komolafe acknowledged receiving the lodgers’ list and also stressed the importance of the list to the inquest.

“The Church yesterday furnished the court with the list and this would go a long way in clarifying so many pending issues,” he said.

Professor Obafunwa, while being cross examined yesterday by counsel to the church, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, refuted claims that the team of forensic experts in Nigeria prevented those from South Africa from taking part in the autopsy of the victims of the disaster.

Obafunwa told the court that the forensic experts from South Africa were scientific forensics who are trained in finger prints.

“There is a difference between a forensic pathologist and a forensic scientific. The team from South Africa were police officers who are trained in finger prints.

“Their expertise was not in doubt as we reviewed protocols together and took them on a tour of our facilities. As regards to international standards, forensics from other countries would need a temporary licence from the Medical Council of Nigeria to get approval,” he said.

The pathologist however did not give a specific answer to a question by Ojo as to the possibility of the collapse being triggered off by an explosive device.

“There is need to wait for my final report. But giving a hypothetical scenario of an explosive material planted in a building which later collapsed, death might arise from a number of factors. Some would die from the effect of the crush, some from the result of fire which could occur before and after death, and there would still be burns.

“Some might also die as a result of severe blood loss because of shrapnel from the explosion and it is not uncommon to see people who are close to the center of the incident completely disintegrated,” Obafunwa replied.

Another witness, Mr. Ige Oladimeji, a representative of the Nigerian Red Cross told the court that the church was of assistance to him and his team throughout their stay at the site of the collapsed building.

“Synagogue provided ten ambulances to help evacuate casualties. In each of the ambulances, there were representatives of the church.

“Nobody prevented us from doing our job. We treated many injuries, arrest of bleedings and also resuscitation of some of the victims. My members participated in the search and rescue operation at the collapsed site.

“I saw other stakeholders including NEMA and LASEMA while entering into the site of the collapsed building.

“Members of the church were so compassionate to ensure that lives were saved. On the second day of the incident, members of my team who worked round the clock confirmed to me that everything went well and more bodies were evacuated since i had left”, Oladimeji said.

Click here to read from source.