Officials of the Lagos state building control agency have taken control of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (Scoan) premises as part of the ongoing investigation into why one of its buildings collapsed recently killing about 115 people.
On September 12, a six-storey hotel building within the Scoan premises, owned by multi-millionaire pastor TB Joshua collapsed at Ikotun in Lagos. Since the accident, the federal government has launched an inquiry to find out what happened amid international calls for those culpable to be brought to book.
Given the large number of foreign nationals who died in the tragedy, the Nigerian government has been under pressure to act. As part of measures introduced to get to the bottom of what happened, the Lagos State Building Control Agency (Lasbca) has taken over responsibility for the sprawling Scoan premises.
Abimbola Animashaun-Odunayo, Lasbca’s general manager, said: “What the synagogue needs to know is that the place is no more in their purview. Everything now belongs to government because that’s what the law stipulates.
“Anytime our officials went there they were prevented, so perhaps, what happened at the synagogue would not have happened if they had allowed government officials do their job. A lot of institutions are too secretive and they will not allow government officials do their jobs properly because they believe that if you are not a member, you cannot have access to their premises.”
She added that the government needs to sensitise public institutions more, so that when an incident happens they give way to rescue team and government officials, otherwise there will be issues like this in future. According to Animashaun-Odunayo, Lasbca will not allow this anymore because the law has given it the power to carry out our work effectively and efficiently.
Ms Animashaun-Odunayo revealed that on the day the building collapsed, church staff did not allow Lasbca staff gain access to the site until the Rapid Response Squad, came to its aid. She pointed out that they have had issues where staff were beaten, harassed and molested in the course of doing our duties in the past.
“They fail to realise that the function of our agency is to save lives, reduce incidence of building collapse to zero. If people are not allowing us to do our job we cannot save lives.
“Yet, the fact is that the building in question was initially a two-storey building before they added four raising it to six. They could not have done that without having competent people overseeing the building. If a raft foundation was done to carry out two-storey building, what did they do to fortify the strength of that foundation to carry out six-storey building? ” Ms Animashaun-Odunayo added.
For now, the Lagos State government has suspended all decisions on the collapsed building until it gets the report from the panel of inquiry set up by the federal government to investigate the incident. Countries like South Africa, that suffered a lot of casualties in the accident, have called for the prosecution of anyone found culpable.
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