Synagogue Church And The Coroner’s Verdict | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Synagogue Church And The Coroner’s Verdict

Posted: Jul 16, 2015 at 2:55 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Nigerians can now start believing that their lives are precious to government after all. For the first time ever, a case of building-collapse was brought before a magistrate’s court and verdict was given. That was after many incidents of building collapse were reported over the years and no prosecution was made, either by the concerned governments or the Nigeria Police, to bring the culprits to book.

The Tribunal of Inquiry into Building Collapse in Lagos State reports that 135 buildings collapsed in the state alone between 2007 and 2013, yet the state government did nothing to implement laws, which prescribed the operations of all stakeholders in the construction industry in the state. This little attention paid by government in the past to the series of building-collapse across the country has made people wonder whether both the Federal and State Governments consider human lives sacrosanct. Nobody was ever brought to justice for committing an offence leading to an avoidable live-consuming building-collapse.

Interestingly, the coroner in Lagos last week indicted the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), for erecting the ill-fated building, which collapsed in September last year and killed 116 people. The Lagos Coroner Magistrate, Oyetade Komolafe who gave the verdict, said that SCOAN erected the collapsed building without procuring the required building permits. He called for an investigation and possible prosecution of the two structural engineers who built the collapsed building, having established that the building fell as a result of structural failure, which emerged from designs and detailing errors.

We commend the Magistrate for a verdict well given, as we need to start paying the required attention to all matters that can endanger human lives. Constructing public buildings is a serious business and it should be left only in the hands of professionals to handle. The incessant reports of building-collapse across the country are worrisome, and they must not be allowed to continue.The coroner had noted that the collapsed building had no approval of the state. This should be properly investigated, because the church earlier claimed that it had all the necessary papers to erect the building. However, SCOAN has dismissed the coroner’s judgment as biased and is insisting that the building collapsed, as a result of sabotage and not as attributed to structural failure by the coroner. This is why we support the order given by the court that the case be investigated and prosecuted. Our belief is that an investigation will shed more light on the matter and establish the truth.

We cannot continue losing innocent lives to careless handling of building constructions. Experts are alleging that cumbersome planning permit process, absence of physical development plans and operative development guides, are some of the reasons buildings are collapsing. They say that it is hard to procure title documents, as prerequisites for granting permit. Government should look into these areas and also check corruption among its staff in the relevant ministry.   Furthermore, we consent to the proposal that fitness test be conducted on all other structures in SCOAN premises, in order to forestall a recurrence of last year’s September tragedy. But we suggest that this measure should be extended, even if randomly, to all public buildings in the country so that we can stop the recurrence of building-collapse once and for all.