Collapsed Synagogue church had no valid building permit, witness tells court
Second prosecution witness in the ongoing trial of the two engineers charged with negligence and manslaughter in the case of collapsed building of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) told the court yesterday that the church does not have a valid building permit.
The witness, Mr. Olutoyin Ayinde, former Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development said this yesterday in his testimony before the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja that the auditorium of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) does not have a valid building permit.
Led in evidence by Mrs. Idowu Alakija, Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Ayinde said he got in touch with the District Officer of the Lagos State Physical Planning Permit Authority (LASPPPA) to confirm whether the church had any building approval.
According to the ex-commissioner, the Electronic Document Management System was searched and the only building approval for the church did not cover the site of the collapse building.
“The document, a five-storey building approval was meant for the church auditorium but as at the time of the collapse, the church auditorium had gone from five floors to eight floors.”
“By the Ministry’s definition, the approval the church had for the auditorium is no longer valid and there was no application for approval registered for the collapsed building.”
“The Building Control Agency pasted their sticker on the auditorium, which had surpassed the approved five-storeys but there was no need for sanctions on the other building because it had already collapsed.”
He also told court presided over by Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo that he is a consultant urban planner and a fellow of the Institute of Town Planners Registration Council of Nigeria.
He added that he was a commissioner during the administration of the former Lagos State governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola.
He explained to the court that a building approval enabled owners of buildings to be adequately compensated when road construction or compulsory acquisition by the government takes place, added that on visiting the site of the collapse, there were too many first responders at the scene.
“I visited the site two days after the collapse as I was attending a retreat outside Lagos when the incident occurred as an advanced team to receive the then Governor Fashola.”
“The first thing we noticed were there were too many first responders, many of whom were church members whom we ordered out of the site because they were clogging the responsibilities of the rescuers.”