IKEJA -The Coroner’s inquest into the collapse of a guest house within the Synagogue Church of All Nations was on Thursday stalled due to a breakdown of the court’s automated verbatim recorder.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the inquest was set up by the Lagos State Government following the building collapse on Sept.12, which resulted in the death of 116 people.
The Coroner, Mr Oyetade Komolafe, had slated Thursday for the police investigator, the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), and the Lagos State Ministry of Works to give evidence.
Also scheduled to appear before the inquest were the founder of the church, Prophet Temitope Joshua and the contractor who constructed the collapsed building.
However, the proceeding was halted mid-way into the evidence of the SON witness, Mr Bede Obayi, who had earlier presented the organisation’s preliminary report on the incident to the court.
Obayi, who is the Head, Inspectorate and Compliant Department of SON, told the court that he was an expert in the field of metallurgical and material engineering with over 26 years experience.
He said immediately SON received the news of the building collapse, a team was assembled to visit the site and investigate whether it was caused by the use of substandard materials.
According to him, the team took samples of iron rods and concrete debris from the site, which were taken to three different laboratories for testing.
The witness said steel reinforcements from four different manufacturing firms were used in the construction of the collapsed building.
He said:” We took a part of the sample to a laboratory of a steel manufacturing company in Nigeria that was not implicated in our investigation.
“We also took samples to each of the companies involved to see if they actually supplied the materials.
“We further took another set to SON laboratory in Enugu,” Obayi said.
He said the concrete debris was taken to the Lagos State Material Testing Laboratory.
The witness explained that the origin of the samples was not disclosed to the laboratories in order to prevent undue influence on the outcome of the tests.
“We have got three results but they are not enough to draw a definite conclusion; it is only the contractor and the owner of the building that will be able to give us the history of the construction.
“We feel their own inputs are very germane,” Obayi said.
Meanwhile, the coroner has directed the police investigator, DSP Olushola Agboyi, to carry out further investigation to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the incident.
Agboyi had earlier narrowed the factors to structural failure, internal sabotage and a Nigerian Air Force plane which hovered around the church premises before the building collapsed.
The hearing continues on Friday.(NAN)