Thursday, November 6, 2014 7:20 pm
The Nigerian Police on Thursday said it was still investigating the recent collapse of a guesthouse within the Synagogue Church of All Nations to ascertain whether it was due to sabotage.
CSP Haruna Alaba, the Divisional Police Officer (DPO), Ikotun Police Station, disclosed this while testifying before the Coroner’s Inquest into the cause of the collapse of the six-storey building, in which 116 people died on 12 September.
Led in evidence by Mr Chukwu Agwu, the Police counsel, the DPO said that the circumstances surrounding the collapse of the building warranted the police to explore all possible angles.
Alaba said after watching a video clip of controlled demolition of buildings shown on Emmanuel TV, he was of the opinion that the Synagogue incident could have been an act of sabotage.
According to him, with the low level of security awareness, it could have been possible for somebody to plant a bomb within the church’s premises.
He said: “We are looking at possible sabotage and we are investigating that.”
The witness said the investigation was being conducted by DSP Olusola Agboyi from the Department of Criminal Investigation, Yaba, Lagos.
Alaba told the inquest presided over by Mr Oyetade Komolafe, that he could not remember whether the Bomb Disposal Unit visited the scene after the incident.
When cross examined by Mr Olalekan Ojo, the church’s counsel, the DPO said that on the day of the incident, the police got a distress call that an aircraft was flying low around the 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 at a high altitude.
“However, this particular one was flying very low and that was why they called our control room,” the DPO added.
He said a few hours later, one of his officers assigned to the Synagogue Church called him that one of the buildings within the church had collapsed.
According to him, 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 said.
Alaba also debunked claims 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 an ambulance, adding that the church provided 11 ambulances while the Nigerian Red Cross Society and Life Savers provided one each.
Meanwhile, the coroner on Thursday 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 Nov. 5, but his counsel told the court that the prophet was yet to be served with the witness summons.
Komolafe also directed the church to produce the Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage of the collapsed scene from Sept. 12 to Sept. 19.
He also ordered the DPO to submit a certified true copy of the Ikotun Police Station register of the incident to the court.
The inquest was adjourned till Nov.19 for further hearing.