By Abdulwahab Abdulah & Bartholomew Madukwe
LAGOS—The coroner inquest into the collapsed building at
the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, took off
yesterday with the Coroner Judge, Magistrate Oyetade
Komolafe requesting the South Africa government to allow
families of the deceased to donate blood for DNA test
towards identifying the victims, also some disables who
claimed to have benefited from the goodwill of the church
founder, Pastor T. B. Joshua flooded the court with placard
asking who owns the private jet that flew close to the
TB Joshua-Synagogue Church
Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe said he will facilitate early
release of their corpses for burial after identification.
Also, the Coroner Judge, disclosed that the court was not
constituted to witchhunt, but to find the cause of the
building collapse and the deaths as well as making
necessary recommendations to prevent future occurrence in
line with the state coroner law.
In his appeal, Magistrate Komolafe explained that the DNA
examination was a major aspect of the inquest, noting that it
would be difficult for the pathologists to carry out their work
if the deceased relatives were not available to identify their
Majority of the victims recovered from the debris of the
building collapse were South Africans.
Komolafe said: “I sympathize with the families of the victims
as well as South Africa government, but I want to seize this
opportunity to state the importance of the DNA to this
“Relatives of victims should donate blood to enable the
pathologists identify the bodies. The medical team and
pathologists are working because the court has directed
them to carry out the activities and report back.
“It is important for the South African embassy to ensure that
relatives of the victims come forward for the pathologist to
get the needed samples to compare with the bodies.
“Those corpses have to be properly identified and when that
is done and the process completed, the bodies will be
released to the South African government and they can take
them home if they so wish.
“We have to work together. We should not allow anything to
cause misunderstanding between Nigeria and South Africa
because we are one, at least we are blacks. Please, let us
work together to make this process a success.”
Church assures on support
While the church represented by Prince Lateef Komolafe
also promised an absolute support to the Coroner, the court
urged necessary parties in the proceedings to cooperate
with the court so as to come out with adequate information
Considering the procedure to be adopted to enhance
smooth and speedy result, Magistrate Komolafe agreed with
counsels representing the parties by allowing them to file
their testimonies through affidavit deposition as well as
allowing oral evidence from witnesses.
He stated that the court was not going to be rigid in the
application of the rules of evidence and other court rules
except where it becomes extremely necessary.
However, he warned that he will not spare any witness who
disregard a court summon by compelling his appearance.
Counsel to the church, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and the
state represented by Mr. Gbolahan Adeniran and the State
Police Command, represented by Mr. Chukwu Agwu had had
a tough time agreeing on when to visit the scene of the
Fagbemi had requested the court to grant his client more
time to enable them upload necessary documents,
evidences at the court registryas well as arranged their
witnesses, who he said will include some foreigners .
While the Officer in Charge of Legal Matters, Lagos State
Police Command, Agwu, aligned himself with the request of
Fagbemi, the state Counsel opposed the request on the
ground that the church supposed to have gathered its
witnesses considering when the time when the incident
The police lawyer submitted that he got the summon to
appear before the court as at close of business last Friday,
arguing he would need time to get documents ready and
prepare some deputy commissioners of police for the
The arguments compelled the court to stand down the case
for 15minutes to enable counsels agreeing on a date for the
next sitting of the court and the time to visit the locus (site of
Moment after the resumption, the court finally fixed
Thursday for visit to the “locus”(site of the collapsed
The Coroner Judge, equally appealed to all those who failed
to appear at the inaugural sitting to appear before the court
at the next adjournment.
He listed them to include the National Emergency
Management Authority(NEMA), Nigerian Security and Civil
Defence Corps(NSCDC), Office of the Lagos State Surveyor
General and Lagos State Emergency Management Authority
(LASEMA) among others.
He directed all counsels to upload all the documents and
evidences they intend to file and for responses to be made
before the next adjourned date, Thursday October 16, when
the court will visit the church while fixed October 24 to begin
the proceeding proper.
Beside the proceedings, some disables who claimed to have
benefited from the goodwill of the church founder, Pastor T.
B. Joshua flooded the court with placard asking for justice to
be done in the case.
Some of them who came on wheel chairs, were carrying
placards with various inscriptions such as: “Who is the
owner of the private jet that flew close to the building; CCTV
footage can’t tell lies. Please investigate; Tell us the truth:
Structural defect or a controlled blast;
“Why targeting foreigners; It is control demolition, not
structural failure; Tell us the truth, what collapsed the
building; Awareness matters, don’t give way to terrorists.”
By Abdulwahab Abdulah & Bartholomew Madukwe