Synagogue: Court fixes January 19 for trial of contractors, Engineers

…As LASG Pledges To Investigate Alleged Fresh Stampede

A Lagos High Court in Ikeja has fixed January 19, 2017 for continuation of trial of the contractors and engineers involved in the construction of a guest house belonging to Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) which collapsed on September 12, 2014 and killed 116 persons.  The Lagos State Government is prosecuting the SCOAN Trustees, two engineers – Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun; and their companies – Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited, before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo on 111-count charge for their involvement in the collapsed building.

The defendants were last month arraigned on 111-count charges bordering on criminal negligence, manslaughter and failure to obtain building permit.

During his testimony at the last adjourned date, Lagos State Chief Medical Examiner, Professor John Obafunwa told the court that five dead bodies who fell victim of the incident were still yet to be identified.

Led in evidence by Mrs. Idowu Alakija, the State’s Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Obafunwa, who is a Consultant Pathologist to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and the former Vice-Chancellor of the Lagos State University (LASU), said the victims of the collapsed building died due to multiple injuries, traumatic asphyxia, severe blood loss, severe fracture and compression of the skull with the brain tissue, congested heart failure against the background of hypertension and accumulation of blood in the chest cavity.

The Chief Medical Examiner said: “To avoid any decomposition, we have to embalm the bodies in the various mortuaries and were equally given identification numbers.

“On the 22nd of September 2014, I received a Coroners’ order to commence a post-mortem examination for identification purposes.

“The bodies were finger printed, examined externally, opened up and examined internally, and samples were taken from various organs to examine them under the microscope.

“We took samples of bones, muscles, pulled hair where available for the purposes of DNA analysis and those samples were sent to a laboratory in South Africa about middle of October, 2014.

“We also collected DNA samples from the relations of the deceased victims and the whole idea was to identify the cause of the death of the affected victims and in the process we were able to identify one hundred and ten (110) victims from the one hundred and sixteen (116) that died apart from the one that died after ten days he was admitted at LASUTH,” Obafunwa narrated.

He also said that all the dead bodies were issued a death certificate each after identification, and that the immediate cause of their death was indicated therein.

Meanwhile, the State Government has said that it was aware of the alleged stampede in the premises of the Synagogue Church in Ikotun area of the State last weekend which reportedly led to the death of about three victims.

The State’s Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, in a statement, said government would ensure proper and thorough investigation of the incident and take appropriate and necessary step on the outcome of the investigation.

Kazeem also reiterated the commitment of the present administration in the State to ensure security and safety of all residents and visitors.

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