Synagogue: Collapsed building has no govt approval, says Lagos Planning Commissioner
The Lagos State Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Develpoment, Oluwatoyin Ayinde, has said that the collapsed six-storey building of the Synagogue Church of All Nations has no government approval.
Ayinde stated this on Thursday while giving testimony before the coroner probing the cause of the building collapse.
No fewer than 116 persons died while several others sustained varying degrees of injuries in the September 12, 2014 tragedy.
Ayinde said investigations conducted by his ministry after the accident revealed that though the six-storey building had a record of survey, it however had no approval of the government.
He said the only thing found in the records was an approval for the church's main auditorium, adding that though that auditorium had now been raised to eight floors, the approval given was only for five floors.
The commissioner, who described all unapproved structures in the church's premises as illegal, stated that there was the need to investigate what he described as unusual practices going on within the church premises.
Ayinde wondered why, for instance, one of the columns supporting the additional three floors placed on the main auditorium had to take off from the top of a water tank.
He said, 'The approval that we saw was in the name of the Synagogue Church of All Nations dated January 26, 2004 but that approval was just for the main auditorium and one of the things we discovered was that it was an approval for a five-floor development. But on our visit to the site, we discovered that the building had been taken to eight floors; we do not have the records of the additional floors, making those floors illegal construction.
'Did we see anything on the collapsed building? No. In our records, the collapsed building has no approval.'
He added, 'I'd like to say that with the additional structure we saw on site, we are inclined to express some fears. We have seen, for example, that one of the columns is not taking off from the ground floor, but it is resting on an existing water tank and I don't know whether any engineer certified that construction. This needs to be investigated because it is an unusual practice to start a column middle way.'
While expressing doubts over the claim by the church that the collapse of the building was connected with some aircrafts that had hovered over it shortly before the accident, Ayinde stated that his investigations revealed that the distance between the said aircraft and the top of the building was one and a half the length of a football pitch.
He added that the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority had written a letter to his ministry showing a request by the Nigeria Air Force that some of their aircrafts were going to be having rehearsals at that time around that place.
He said, 'What we wanted to know was which aircrafts were flying at that particular time? Two, at what altitude were they flying? And three, what was the coordinate of their flight path?' - Punch.