The coroner’s inquest investigating the circumstances which led to the collapse of a six-storey guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) on Thursday admitted as exhibit the building plan of the collapsed guest house and other adjoining structures within the church premises.
A town planner, Mr. Bisi Adedire, while submitting the plan also informed the court that the collapsed building got the approval of the Lagos State government.
The Coroner’s inquest which was presided over by Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe was inaugurated by the state Government under the state Coroner’s System Law No.7 of 2007 to investigate the cause and circumstances resulting in the death of 166 people following the collapse on September 12 and bring its findings and recommendations to the appropriate authorities.
Adedire also told the court that the church had allegedly paid over N20 million to the state government for the building approval.
He said whether a building got approval or not, what determines its strength is the way the materials used on the building were applied.
“An approval can be secured even for a building that is already in existence,” he said.
The state Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Develpoment, Mr. Oluwatoyin Ayinde, had told the inquest while giving evidence that the collapsed guest house had no government approval.
Earlier in his testimony, the Deputy General Manager, Air Traffic Control, with the Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), Mr. Rafiq Olubukola Arogunjo confirmed that the aircraft that allegedly hovered around the collapsed guest house, while orbiting did not fly below 1,100 feet.
The witness also told the court that the aircraft actually flew near the building but admitted that the concept of nearness remains ambiguous.
Arogunjo’s attention was also drawn to some contradictions in his evidence and some of the exhibits submitted by his agency.
“We observed that the pilot maintained 1,100 feet at all material times during the training operation.
“There is no way I would have known the intention of the pilot on the day of the incident. I can also confirm that the flight plan was submitted to me, but cannot remember the name of the pilot that flew the aircraft that flew on the day of the incident.
“I don’t also know what the aircraft was carrying that day, and the identity of those in the aircraft is not known to me. I have no knowledge of the gadgets on board the flight and I don’t know the use with which the flight was deployed on the day under review.
“The control tower would not be able to know what the pilot was doing with aircraft whenever the said aircraft goes off the visibility of the radar.
“We also carried out a scientific analysis on the distance between the collapsed guest house and the aircraft. There was never a time the aircraft flew over the collapsed building.
“The aircraft evidently flew near the building that collapsed at 1,100 feet. I have heard about an aircraft on a sabotage mission release invisible substance on a target lased with explosive device with the aim of bombing a target.
“I cannot confirm if the aircraft had such a substance and we did not loose sight on radar of the aircraft on the day of the incident,” the witness said.