Lagos inquest starts?tomorrow

2014-10-12 15:00

The inquest into the death of 116 people – including 80 South Africans – in the six-storey guesthouse collapse at the Synagogue Church of All ­Nations in Lagos, Nigeria, begins tomorrow.

TB Joshua, the controversial head of the church, is one of the witnesses ­subpoenaed to attend the inquest at the Ikeja High Court, along with the contractors supervising the renovation of the guesthouse.

Two South African eyewitnesses, Lindiwe Ndwandwe (33) and an unidentified citizen; and Rebone Tau, the chair­person of the ANC Youth League’s international relations committee, will also give evidence.

So too will Nigerian media houses, which have reported extensively on the matter; the Ministries, Departments and Agencies of Lagos State; state police command; security agencies; and the Nigerian Red Cross.

The inquest will determine who or what was responsible for the collapse and whether any criminal charges should be laid.

It is unclear how long it will sit. The church is sticking to its story that the building was brought down by controlled demolition after a mystery aircraft flew over it several times.

Ken Emeakayi, the spokesperson for the Emmanuel Television arm of Synagogue, told Channels Television: “We are investigating the incident for the world to know what actually happened. When you look at the clip, you will see that it was not just the aircraft hovering. At the point of the incident, there was [an] explosion.

“It is possible it was either dropped or planted and the aircraft will have to come and detonate it. The persons in the building said that the noise they heard suggested it was an explosion. Those involved in the act might not have been aware of the security cameras?... We are calling for an investigation.”

Nigerians are split between those who believe the church broke the law by ­embarking on renovating its guesthouse without statutory approval, and those who buy into the conspiracy theories about the incident being an attack on Joshua and the reputation of his church.

Joshua is a divisive figure in Nigeria. He has been ostracised by his peers in the Christian Association of Nigeria – a body that represents the more orthodox denominations like the Catholics and Anglicans as well as the evangelicals. Nor is he part of the Pentecostal Fellowship of Nigeria, which has denounced him in the past.

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