No plan to confiscate site until…, says Lagos govt
By Evelyn Usman
Lagos—Six days after a five-storey building used as guest house by the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN collapsed, killing scores of persons and injuring several others, the church was yet to produce names of lodgers in the building.
Although the South African government had Tuesday claimed that 67 of its citizens perished in the collapsed building but rescue operators are faced with the challenge of identifying the nationalities of the dead and survivors, owing to what they alleged as reluctance from SCOAN to produce the names.
Besides, indication emerged that some countries, among which is Australia, have been calling in to ascertain the plight of their citizens feared might be victims.
Death toll now 80
This is as the death toll rose to 80 yesterday with the recovery of additional 17 victims comprising 12 women and five men, with the number of survivors still 131.
Fielding questions from newsmen on the contradiction in the number of death between rescue operators and President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, the South West spokesperson for the National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA Ibrahim Farinloye, maintained that as at Tuesday, when Zuma came up with his figure, the death toll was 63.
Farinloye said, “I don’t know where President Zuma got his information from. He is not on ground here but we are. So, we presume he is operating based on information made available to him. We are working on what we got based on operation. As I speak, we have record of 80 persons dead and 131 rescued alive. The figure rose to 80 because we recovered two bodies by 11pm on Tuesday and another two at about 3am today (Wednesday) and the rest between 10am and 4pm. We will continue working until we get to the last level of excavation because it is possible that more bodies are still trapped underneath the rubble.
On list of victims
However, a member of the church, who spoke on condition on anonymity to Vanguard, assured that SCOAN was likely to come out with the list today.
The worker said: ”We were overwhelmed by the incident. And we were fully involved in the rescue. I assure you that we will come out with the list by tomorrow (today) because there is no way you can hide the corpses, as some of them need to be flown to their respective countries”.
We won’t confiscate site just yet—LAGOS
Meanwhile, the Lagos State Government has stated that it had no plan to confiscate the site of the collapsed building until investigation into its cause was concluded.
In a statement yesterday by the Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Olutoyin Ayinde, it said;
“Government does not arbitrarily take over properties when investigation is still on-going. The state government is conducting a preliminary investigation into the cause(s) of the collapse and would leave no stone unturned. If there is any violation of relevant planning law, residents are assured that government would take appropriate action.”
He said that ‘there are no plans to take over the collapsed structure site until thorough and detailed investigation as to the cause(s) of the collapse has been concluded.
“A team of engineers from the ministry and other government agencies are taking samples from the foundation and materials from the wreckage of the building for detailed analysis and testing to ascertain the structural integrity of the building”.
On the “Strange Plane Theory”, alleged to have dangerously flown low over the building minutes before its collapse, Ayinde disclosed that the ministry had submitted the video clips, as provided by the church to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) with the co-ordinate of the collapsed site for investigation and professional comment.