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Five bodies yet to be identified in Synagogue building tragedy

Site of the collapsed building of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria

Site of the collapsed building of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos, Nigeria

Two years after a six-storey guesthouse belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) collapsed in Lagos, killing 116 worshippers, five bodies of the deceased are yet to be identified and claimed by their families.

This was disclosed yesterday at the resumed hearing of the trial in a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja. Briefing Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, a Consultant Pathologist to the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH) and the former Vice Chancellor of the Lagos State University (LASU), Prof. John Obafunwa, also told the court that multiple injuries, traumatic asphyxia, severe blood loss, severe fracture and compression of the skull within the brain tissue, congested heart failure against the background of hypertension, and accumulation of blood in the chest cavity resulted in the death of the victims.

Led in evidence yesterday by the counsel to the Lagos State government, who is the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Idowu Alakija, Obafunwa explained that “to avoid any decomposition, we had to embalm the bodies in the various mortuaries and were equally given identification numbers.

“On September 22, 2014, I received a Coroners’ order to commence a post-mortem examination for identification purposes. The bodies were finger printed, examined externally, opened up and examined internally, and samples were taken from various organs to examine them under the microscope. We took samples of bones, muscles, pulled hair where available for the purposes of DNA analysis and those samples were sent to a laboratory in South Africa in the middle of October, 2014.

“We also collected DNA samples from the relations of the deceased victims. In the process we were able to identify 110 victims from the 116 that died.”

The state government thereafter charged the Registered Trustees of SCOAN alongside two engineers; Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun and their companies, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited to court on 111-count charge over their alleged involvement in the collapsed six-storey guesthouse.

The charge borders on criminal negligence, manslaughter and failure to obtain building permit. The judge subsequently adjourned continuation of trial till January 19, 2017.

In a related development, the Lagos State government is set to commence the prosecution of suspects linked to the collapse of a five-story building in March this year in Lekki area of the state, which led to the death of 30 persons.

In a briefing yesterday, the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, stated that his office has concluded all necessary legal advice and ready to prosecute a total of nine suspects deemed culpable in the building’s collapse.

It would be recalled that on March 8, 2016, a property being built by Lekki Gardens Estate Limited and Get Too Rich Investment Limited known as Horizon 1 Extension, House H15, Lekki, collapsed claiming the lives of 30 people.

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