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Defence closes case in collapsed Synagogue guest house

By Yetunde Ayobami Ojo
24 December 2019   |   2:12 am
Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) and other defendants have closed their defense before a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere, in a case filed against them by Lagos State government.

Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN)

Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) and other defendants have closed their defense before a Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere, in a case filed against them by Lagos State government.

Defendants closed their case in an on-going trial of the Registered Trustees of SCOAN and the engineers, Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun alongside their companies – Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd, before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo

They are facing a 110-count charge of involuntary manslaughter brought against them following the collapsed of a six story-building guest house belonging to SCOAN on September 12, 2014, which claimed 114 lives. Their offences allegedly contravened Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011 but they had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

However, at the resumed hearing last week, the last defense witness, Professor Patrick Nwankwo, told the court that the mode of collapse of the guest house negated the characteristics of collapsed building with structural defects.He was crossed examined by the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, Mr. Yaquob Gbadebo Oshoala.

Nwankwo, a Professor of Structural Engineering and Construction Materials, held that “Any defective building, whether emanating from under or over reinforcement or poor construction materials should have a ductile type of collapse.

“That of Synagogue Guest House was too catastrophic and such could only have been caused by an external factor”, he stated.Asked by counsel to first defendant, Olalekan Ojo (SAN) what he meant by “the type of collapse”, he answered: “If defective or substandard materials were used, the mode of collapse would be ductile and gradual.”

“The characteristics of a building coming down on itself are different. If it is structural defect or use of defective materials, the mode of collapse will be ductile and gradual.“This is not the case with the collapsed Synagogue Church guest house. This building has about 12 frames. The frames, beams and columns would not have collapsed at the same time. It can only happen by some external forces”, he said.

Nwankwo added that he was motivated to conduct investigation on the collapsed building because of its unusual mode of collapse.
. The European-trained expert who had earlier conducted various researches on collapsed structures in the country said he was not involved in the previous enquiries instituted by Corona Inquest on the collapsed church building.

Earlier, during the cross-examination by Mr Oluseye Diyan, Chief Efe Akpofure (SAN) and Mrs. Titi Akinlawon (SAN), the witness stated that there were appropriate international standard codes guiding construction industry and he had examined the collapsed Synagogue Church building’s structural elements and that its design and construction works met all the required codes.JusticeLawal-Akapo subsequently adjourned the case till January 24, 2020.