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Synagogue: We sealed off building before collapse — LSBCA

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By Adekunle Aliyu (with agency report)
Lagos — General Manager of  Lagos State Building Control Agency, Mrs. Abimbola Animashaun-Odunayo, has said that the agency sealed off the guest house building at the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Scoan, in Lagos days before it collapsed, but the church ignored its concerns and continued with construction work.

 TB Joshua-Synagogue Church
TB Joshua-Synagogue Church

The guest house building collapsed on Friday, September 12, 2014, killing about 130 people, including 84 South Africans.

No approval

However, government officials said they did not give Scoan approval to add additional storeys to the original plan.

According to News24Nigeria, Abimbola Animashaun-Odunayo, General Manager at the Lagos State Building Control Agency, said the collapsed building only had approval to be a three-storey structure.

She noted that her agency had sealed off the building a few days before the incident, but the church ignored the concerns expressed by the agency and continued working on the building.

She was, however, evasive on what action the government would take should the church be found reprehensible. She said she would not want to pre-empt the outcome of the investigation and structural integrity test being carried out on the building site.

There is a law which allows the state to take control of any collapsed building, but Animashaun-Odunayo said the outcome of the various tests will determine the action to be taken by government.

Church bars relatives from seeing victims – Families

Meanwhile, family members of those injured in the disaster have accused the church of preventing them from visiting their loved ones in hospital.

During a visit to some of the hospitals where the injured are being treated it was observed that the church had directed hospital authorities to bar members of the public, including some relatives of the injured, from seeing them.

Some of the family members who spoke said all attempts to see their loved ones had been frustrated as they were prevented from gaining access to them.

They, however, admitted that the church has been settling the bills of the patients.

Church maintains it was an attack

Meanwhile, the church has officially declined to comment on a number of allegations relating to the collapse, but an official maintains it was “an attack.”

Ihechukwu Njoku, a member of the church’s media team, said that some of the stories concerning the event are not the true reflection of what really happened.

He insisted that the incident was an attack on the church.

Asked how the plane could have caused the building to fall, he said the church does not want to draw any conclusions yet as the investigation is still on-going.

Victims list

Njoku was also not forthcoming as to why the church has not made available a comprehensive list of names of those affected, almost two weeks after the disaster.

He denied insinuations that the church may not have a record of the names and identities of those who were in the building when it collapsed.

Njoku said the church had been careful with the list in order not to create tension and fear among family members. He noted that the church was working with the relevant authorities on this.

Silence, tension

Church members were not willing to speak on the incident.

Similarly, residents in the area around the church were also not ready to talk for fear of being attacked, as church members have been stationed in the vicinity to monitor the church.

Those who agreed to talk preferred not to disclose their identities. They noted that it was ironic that Pastor TB Joshua could not foresee this disaster and act accordingly, despite the fact that he apparently predicted the outcome of events in the past.

Though the incident occurred almost two weeks ago and the rescue operation had ended, the atmosphere in the area surrounding the church “is still tense. Visitors to the church are properly screened before gaining entry into the church premises.

“Church members who have no business are denied access to the site of the collapsed building, which is opposite the main church.”

Six discharged from hospital in S/Africa

This came as six of the 25 injured people taken to South Africa for treatment were discharged.

The six people were discharged from the Steve Biko Academic Hospital and cleared of any dangerous infections.

“It was five, but now it is gone up to six that have been discharged,” the hospital’s deputy CEO, Dr. Mathabo Mathebula said, adding “none of the (25 admitted) patients had any dangerous infections, they are all fine.”

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