Aircraft not flying directly over collapsed church building, says witness

Site of the collapsed building of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria

Site of the collapsed building of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria

Contrary to claims by the Synagogue Church of All Nations that aircraft flew over the seven-storey guest house before it collapsed, a witness, Mr. Olutoyin Ayinde, told an Ikeja High Court on Wednesday that it was not true.

“We found that the aircraft were not flying directly over the building,’’ said Ayinde, a former Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development.

He stated this while being led in evidence by Mrs. Idowu Alakija, the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).

Ayinde had served during the administration of former Gov.Babatunde Fashola.

He said: “During my visit with Gov. Fashola in company of two General Managers of the agencies under my ministry to the site of the building collapse, the General Overseer of the church gave us a CCTV recording of an aircraft hovering over the building shortly before the incident.

“My office wrote to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) seeking advice on the CCTV recording we received.

“We got the flight corridor and a report from the NCAA which showed that the distance between the aircraft and the top of the building is between 137 and 288 meters.

“We found that the aircraft were not flying directly over the building.’’

Ayinde is the second prosecution witness who had testified at the ongoing trial of the two engineers charged with criminal manslaughter in the collapsed building which killed 116 persons including 85 South Africans.

“We took pictures of the site and also did a video recording of the visit of the delegation to the site.”

The DPP sought to tender the documents by Ayinde as evidence.

“My Lord, we seek to tender the application for building approval for the Synagogue Church auditorium, letter from the NCAA, flight path coordinates, the survey of the collapsed building as well as pictures as evidence.”

The Defence led by Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), however, objected to the tendering of the documents.

“My Lord, we oppose the tendering of these documents as they were just served on us as additional proof of evidence.

”We need to have a foreknowledge of what is in those documents to enable us to confer with our clients.”

Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo asked the counsel for possible dates of adjournment to enable them to examine the documents.

NAN also reports that the lawyers, however, could not agree on a date for adjournment and the judge had to impose a date on them.

“I waited patiently for counsel to come up with a date but they could not. I have no choice but to impose these dates on the counsel.

He fixed June 27, June 28 and June 29 for the continuation of trial.

Akinbela Fatiregun and Oladele Ogundeji alongside their companies — Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd and the trustees of Synagogue — are facing a 111-count charge bordering on gross negligence and criminal manslaughter in the guest house which collapsed on Sept. 12, 2014.

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