Synagogue: We're not ruling out sabotage - Police

By The Citizen

The Police have said they were not ruling out sabotage in the collapse of a Guest House within the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos.

The Divisional Police Officer, Ikotun Police Station, CSP Haruna Alaba, stated this yesterday while testifying before the Lagos State Coroner, Mr. Oyetade Komolafe, who is investigating the September 12 building collapse that killed over 100 persons.

Led in evidence by the counsel to the Nigeria Police, Mr. Chukwu Agwu, he said the force was investigating anything that could have led to the incident, including the 'possibility of sabotage by external forces.'

According to him, a video being shown on Emmanuel TV (a television station belonging to the Synagogue church) of collapsed buildings and controlled demolitions, has further prompted the police to carry out more investigations.

Alaba said he was of the opinion that the Synagogue church incident could have been an act of sabotage due to the low level of security awareness in the area.

He told the coroner that the investigation was being conducted by DSP Olusola Agboyi from the Department of Criminal Investigation, Yaba, Lagos.

He, however, could not confirm if the Bomb Disposal Unit had visited the church.

During cross-examination by counsel to the church, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, the police officer said on the day of the incident, the police got a distress call that an aircraft was flying low in Ikotun area.

'My Lord, the aircraft was flying at a very low altitude. From Ikotun angle, we see aircrafts flying almost every day but it is usually on a high altitude.

'However, this particular one was flying very low and that was why they called our control room,' the DPO stated.

He said a few hours after the report of the low-flying aircraft, one of the officers he assigned to the Synagogue Church, called to say that a building within the church had collapsed.

Alaba said he immediately moved to the church with some officers and barricaded the two entrances to prevent hoodlums from taking advantage of the situation.

'On that day, people were confused. There was panic and that was why the police barricaded the entrances to the scene.

The barricade was not to prevent or delay emergency response agencies from performing their duties,' he added.

Alaba, however, debunked the allegation by the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) and National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) that their officials were assaulted.

He said both agencies came to the scene without any ambulance, adding that the church provided 11 ambulances, while the Nigerian Red Cross Society and Life Savers provided one each.

Meanwhile, the coroner, yesterday ordered that the founder of the church, Prophet Temitope Joshua, should appear before the court to give evidence.

Joshua was earlier slated to appear on Tuesday but his counsel told the court that he was yet to be served with the witness summons.

Aside the invitation of Synagogue's founder, the coroner also directed the church to produce the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage of the rescue operation at the scene of the collapsed building from September 12 to 19, while

CSP Alaba should submit a certified true copy of the Ikotun Police Station register of the period of the incident to the court.

The inquest was adjourned till Nov.19 for further hearing. - The Sun.