On Friday 3rd June 2016, the trial of the engineers that handled the construction of the collapsed guest house belonging to The Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN) resumed at Lagos High Court, Ikeja.
A witness from the Lagos State Government, Engineer Victor Oyenuga presented a report of the panel set up by the Counsel of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN) and the Nigerian Building and Roads Research Institute (NIBRRI) to investigate the possible cause of the controversial collapse in September 2014.
While being cross-examined by the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecution, Idowu Alakija, Oyenuga, who is the former President of the Institution of Structural Engineers of Nigeria, revealed that the only fault found in the building’s structure was on ‘beam seven’ which he claimed was not adequate enough to carry the weight of the building.
He however told the court that the purported inadequacy of the said beam was not significant enough to be blamed for the collapse of the building, observing that “only God can determine the actual cause”.
Testifying further, Engineer Oyenuga overruled the possibility of foundational failure being the cause of the collapse. He observed that independent investigations revealed that the collapsed building had a loading capacity of 330 kN/m2 whereas 800 is the maximum capacity for a structure of that size.
He concluded by admitting that the foundation did not exceed the loading capacity even when the initial report from COREN and NBBRI estimated the capacity at 550 kN/m2. This revelation contradicts one of the findings of the coroner’s court that stated that foundational failure was one of the causes of the building’s collapse.
It would be recalled that the ongoing trial was one of the recommendations of the coroner’s court, which stated that structural errors were behind the collapse. The outcome was immediately dismissed by The SCOAN as being biased and one-sided, an assertion reiterated by several human rights groups and concerned observers, who have since called on the government to review the report of the coroner.
Counsel to the defendants, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) thereafter urged the court to adjourn for further hearing. Justice Lawal Akapo, who was commended by court observers for his calm and impartial disposition, adjourned further hearing to Monday, June 20, 2016.
Nosa Osazuwa ( Email: firstname.lastname@example.org ) was present during court proceedings. He wrote in from Lagos, Nigeria.
*Photo Caption – Rescue workers Tuesday September 16, 2014 search for survivors in the rubble of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Lagos- Nigeria collapsed building. The building collapsed September 12, 2014.