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Synagogue building collapse: Church turns down request for documents

Dr Olusegun Oyenuga, a state witness in the ongoing trial of two engineers charged with negligence and manslaughter in the collapsed building of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), told an Ikeja High Court on Monday that the church had not responded to requests for necessary documents.

Oyenuga, a civil engineer, made this revelation while being cross-examined by the lead counsel for the Defence, Mr Lateef Fagbemi (SAN).

“The Council for Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) sent a letter to the Synagogue Church to furnish us with some documents which would aid investigations into collapsed building but we did not receive during our investigations,” he said.

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Oyenuga had listed his educational qualifications as an HND in Civil Engineering from the Yaba College of Technology in 1978, a first class B.sc degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Lagos in 1981.

He also has a Master’s degree in Public Health Engineering from the Imperial College, London, obtained in 1984.

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

While under cross-examination, Oyenuga told the court that the nine-man investigative committee that visited the site of the building collapse was created by COREN in conjunction with the Nigerian Buildings and Roads Research Institute (NIBRRI).

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“The investigative committee consisted of nine people but there was no geophysist in the committee.”

Oyenuga, however, admitted he had no knowledge of who delivered the letter of request from COREN to SCOAN and that did he have an acknowledgement copy of the letter.

Mrs Titi Akinlawon (SAN), a counsel for the Defence, queried Oyenuga’s claim that he received no documents from Synagogue.

“You had alleged in your evidence that you got Exhibits P2 and P3 from the church, in what circumstances did you get those documents?

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“I did not get those documents from the church but rather from the office of the Coroner which was set up to investigate the building collapse,” Oyenuga said.

NAN reports that Akinbela Fatiregun and Oladele Ogundeji alongside their companies — Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd as well as the trustees of Synagogue are facing a 111-count charge bordering on gross negligence and criminal manslaughter.

The Sept. 12, 2014 guest house collapse led to the death of 116 persons, 85 of who were South Africans.

Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo adjourned the case to June 21 for continuation of trial.

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