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Collapsed Synagogue church building had no structural engineer – Witness

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A witness, Dr Olusegun Oyenuga, told an Ikeja High Court on Friday that the collapsed seven-storey guest house of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) had no structural engineer.

Oyenuga made the statement in the trial of two engineers charged with 111 counts bordering on gross negligence and criminal manslaughter in the deaths of 116 people, including 85 South Africans, in the building.

“There was no structural engineer for SCOAN to the best of our knowledge. During the compilation of the report into the cause of the collapsed building, no structural engineer for the church came forward.

“The court needs to educate the public that every structure needs a structural engineer.

“A civil engineer is not necessarily a structural engineer unless registered by the Council of Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN),” he said.

Oyenuga in his evidence listed his educational qualifications as an HND in Civil Engineering from Yaba College of Technology in 1978, a first class BSc degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Lagos in1981.

He listed his professional qualifications, namely fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Structural Engineers, a past President of the institution who served from 2009 to 2011 and a current registered engineer of COREN.

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The engineer, who was led in evidence by Mrs Idowu Alakija, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), told the court how investigations into the collapsed building were carried out by his committee.

“I was a member of the committee that generated a report on the SCOAN building collapse. COREN put up an advert that all engineers involved in the construction of the collapsed building report to the COREN office at Ikoyi but no one showed up.

“I and other members of the committee went to the site of the building collapse to conduct some analysis and design tests.

“We requested drawings from the church and one Mr G.A. Akinfenwa came to our office to drop two documents; a structural drawing and a calculation and drawing for beam seven which was a major beam.

“These documents were of no use as it was not made available to the committee by SCOAN until after we had made our findings.

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“Our investigations revealed that the Mr G.A. Akinfenwa sent to our office by SCOAN was not a registered member of COREN,” he said.

Oyenuga told the court that findings of the committee revealed that there were some structural defects that were discovered which might have led to the building collapse.

“Our findings revealed that the super structure was undersized in terms of the re-inforcement of the beams and columns, the foundation was also not adequate but it may not have been the cause of the collapse.

“On the bearing capacity of the soil, the maximum bearing capacity should be 800 and what should be ideally used for construction are 330 and the church used 550.

“This may have been responsible for the collapse.”

Oyenuga added that no certificate of fitness issued by an engineer or an individual in charge of the collapsed structure was given to his committee.

Akinbela Fatiregun and Oladele Ogundeji alongside their companies, Hardrock

Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited and the trustees of SCOAN are facing trial over the deaths of 116 persons.

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The engineers are accused of building the seven-storey guest house which led to the deaths on Sept. 12, 2014.

After Oyenuga’s testimony, lead counsel for the defence, Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), requested for an adjournment to enable the defence to prepare for cross-examination of the witness.

“My Lord, can we come back on Friday to cross-examine the witness?” he asked.

Alakija, however, objected to Fagbemi’s request for an adjournment.

“On the last adjourned date, the defence asked for time to read the proof of evidence to aid their cross-examination.

“I think they have already been given sufficient time to do so,” she said.

Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, however, told the counsel that he had other pending matters to attend to in court and had to adjourn the case.

“By consent of all counsel, the trial is adjourned to 11:30am on June 20, 21 and 22 for continuation of trial,” the judge said.

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