Police Investigate Synagogue Building Collapse


Officials of South African Search and Rescue and Victims Identification Center arrive at the site

Henry Ojelu

Officials of South African Search and Rescue and Victims Identification Center arrive at the site
Officials of South African Search and Rescue and Victims Identification Center arrive at the site

CSP Haruna Alaba, the Divisional Police Officer, Ikotun Police Station, today said the police is investigating the September 12 collapse of a guest house within the Synagogue Church of All Nations to determine if it was due to possible sabotage.

Haruna made this known while testifying before the Lagos State Coroner, Mr Oyetade Komolafe, who is investigating the building collapse which killed 116 persons.

The witness who was led in evidence by the Police lawyer, Mr Chukwu Agwu, said the police was investigating anything that could have led to the incident, including the possibility of sabotage by external forces.

According to him, a video being shown on Emmanuel TV of collapsed buildings and controlled demolitions, has further prompted the police to carry out more investigations.

Alaba said he was of the opinion that the Synagogue church incident could have been an act of sabotage due to the low level of security awareness in the area.

The witness said the investigation was being conducted by DSP Olusola Agboyi from the Department of Criminal Investigation, Yaba, Lagos but could not confirm if the Bomb Disposal Unit had visited the church.

Under-cross examination by the church’s counsel, Mr Olalekan Ojo, he said on the day of the incident that the police got a distress call that an aircraft flying low in Ikotun area.

“My Lord, the aircraft was flying at a very low altitude. From Ikotun angle, we see aircrafts flying almost everyday but it is usually on a high altitude.

“However, this particular one was flying very low and that was why they called our control room,” the DPO added.

He said a few hours later, one of his officers assigned to the Synagogue Church, called him that one of the buildings within the church had collapsed.

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According to him, he immediately moved to the church which some officers and barricaded the two entrances to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage of the situation.

“On that day, people were confused. There was panic and that was why the police barricaded the entrances to the scene.

“The barricade was not to prevent or delay emergency response agencies from performing their duties, ” he emphasised.

Alaba also debunked the claims by the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), that their officials were assaulted.

He said both agencies came to the scene without an ambulance, adding that the church provided 11 ambulances while the Nigerian Red Cross Society and Life Savers provided one each.

Meanwhile, the coroner on Thursday ordered that the founder of the church, Prophet Temitope Joshua, should appear before the court to give evidence.

Joshua was earlier slated to appear on Nov.5 but his counsel told the court that he had yet to be served with the witness summons.

Komolafe also directed the church to produce the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage of the collapsed scene from Sept.12 to Sept.19.

He also asked DPO to submit a certified true copy of the Ikotun Police Station register of the period of the incident to the court.

The inquest was adjourned till November 19 for further hearing.

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