The Council of Registered Engineers (COREN) Investigating Panel has heard that the building plan approval for the collapsed section of the Synagogue Church was not found in Lagos State Government records. Mr Oladotun Lasoju, Deputy Director in the Lagos State Ministry of Physical Planning and Urban Development, disclosed this in Abuja on Tuesday.
Lasoju was testifying before the panel investigating the professional conduct of the two engineers involved in the construction of the Synagogue Church of All Nations building which collapsed on Sept. 14, 2014.
The two engineers, Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, are facing criminal charges before a Lagos State High Court for their involvement in the construction of the building. He disclosed that the building plan, which was submitted at the Coroner’s Inquest while it was winding down its investigation, did not carry the seal of approval from the Lagos State government.
He explained that further search through the retrieval system of the Lagos State Physical Permit Agency (LASPPPA), could not find any approval of the said building plan. “We have a retrieval system in place to search for all forms of approvals granted by the government.
“Our search through the Ministry’s archive and that of LASPPPA did not yield any results, as no approval was traceable to the drawing (building plan) in question. “The approval was not forthcoming during the Coroner’s Inquest.
Eventually, when it was submitted, those drawings did not bear any approval from Lagos State government agency’’, Lasoju said. COREN’s witness at the Coroner’s Inquest, Dr Victor Oyenuga, had told the panel that the building plan that was submitted did not bear the name of the person who drew the design.
Oyenuga, a registered engineer and Chairman, Building Collapse Prevention Guild, added that the Coroner’s findings showed that the
“seven stories superstructure (collapsed section) was under-designed.’’
Counsel to the two engineers, Mr Donald Ayibiowu, had staged a walk out during the hearing, following the refusal of the panel to grant his application for adjournment. Ayibiowu had informed the panel that his clients were still in custody after fulfilling all the bail conditions imposed by the court.
He argued that the panel should adjourn to enable his clients attend the hearing, otherwise according to him, it would amount to breach of the principles of fair hearing and justice.
The Chairman of the panel, Mr Nurudeen Rafindadi, said the prayer of the defence counsel cannot be granted since the panel’s job was a fact-finding one and not to decide on the issues at stake. Rafindadi said the panel would avail the defendants records of the proceedings while the counsel would also be given chance to cross examine the two witnesses.
“Your presence here is representative of your clients. So, proceedings have to continue so as not to waste time. “This panel does not have the power to determine anything. Ours is to investigate and pass the findings to the tribunal’’, he said. Rafindadi told newsmen later that the absence of the counsel does not have any implications on the outcome of the matter, if it would eventually get to the tribunal stage