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Collapsed Synagogue Guest House Trial: Expert Exposes “Mischievous” Report By LASG

By Ihechukwu Njoku
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Defendants in the case of the collapsed Synagogue Church Guest house closed their case at the weekend with the cross examination of their last witness in a Lagos High Court sitting at Igbosere on Friday 20th December 2019.

During resumed proceedings, the court heard further evidence that the mode of collapse of the church guest house had no characteristics of a building which collapsed due to structural defects.

Professor Patrick Nwankwo stated this while being crossed examined by the Lagos State Director of Public Prosection, Mr Yequob Oshoala.

Nwankwo, a Professor of Structural Engineering and Construction Materials, gave his expert analysis as a witness at the instance of Engr Oladele Ogundeji, who is facing trial for the collapsed building as its Supervising Engineer.

“Any defective building – whether emanating from under or over reinforcement or poor constructional materials – will have a ductile or gradual type of collapse,” he explained.

“This was not the case with the collapsed Synagogue church guest house. The frames, beams, columns would not all have collapsed at the same time; it can only happen by some external forces,” he revealed.

While responding to questions from the DPP, Professor Nwankwo said he was motivated to investigate the collapsed Synagogue church building due to its unusual mode of collapse, coupled with his professional and academic concern.

“I wanted to ensure any reports I submitted to the court were thorough and did not compromise the integrity of my profession,” he explained.

Professor Nwankwo faulted the initial report presented to the court by Lagos State Government – which relied heavily on projections from Orion Design Software – which suggested structural failure caused the collapse.

As an expert in that particular software, Nwankwo revealed the interpretation presented to the court in its earlier hearings was “completely wrong” and could even be termed “mischievous”.

“Since the calculations were wrong, the report’s findings cannot be relied upon,” he explained, adding that the report he submitted actually met the “required code of practice in Nigeria”.

Earlier in the cross examination by Mr Oluseye Diyan, Chief Efe Akpofure SAN and Mrs Titi Akinlawon SAN, the erudite scholar insisted that the construction of the building met with appropriate international standards guiding the industry.

The building, which tragically collapsed on September 12th 2014, served as a guest-house for foreign pilgrims visiting TB Joshua's popular church in Ikotun-Egbe.

Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo adjourned the case to January 24, 2020

Ihechukwu Njoku is a freelance Nigerian journalist...