SCOAN trial starts again, and then stops

Lagos State have discovered SCOAN didn't have a valid building permit for any of their buildings

After 6 months of silence, the SCOAN trial finally got underway again today – for a few minutes, until being adjourned for another month until February 17th due to a prosecution witness being delayed and not being able to attend. Another delay, after so many other delays – but at least the case hasn’t been forgotten. Hopefully 2017 will be the year the victims and families finally get justice.

2 years on – when will the SCOAN victims get justice?

The collapse building that killed 116 people

The collapse building that killed 115 people

Two years ago today, 115 people seeking healing and an encounter with God died when the building they were staying in collapsed on top of them. Countless others were injured, some never being able to walk or work again. In July 2015, the coroner released his report – proving that the building collapsed was inevitable due to a litany of serious structural failings, for example:

  • Inadequate beams of 750mm by 225mm (should have been 900mm by 300mm)
  • Inadequately reinforced columns (should have been reinforced with 12 x Y25 bars or 20 x Y20mm bars. Instead they used 10 x Y20 bars (as seen in the video released by SCOAN).
  • Inadequate bearing pressure for the central column due to the 2m x 2m x 0.9m foundations.
  • Failure to introduce rigid zones for bracing the structure and did not design the frames as an unbraced structure.
  • Failure to provide movement joints that could have absorbed any movement due to creep, contraction, expansion and differential settlement etc..
  • 8 out of the 12 main beams of the structure failed because they were undersized, under-reinforced (both in tension and shear), the tension bars were poorly anchored to the column supports and 8 x Y20 was used instead of 14 x Y20.
  • The ground floor columns were slender and readily gave in to buckling

The coroner Oyetade Komolafe ruled that SCOAN were criminally negligent, and should be investigated and prosecuted, “The church was culpable because of criminal negligence resulting in the death of the victims” (Source: BBC).

In April 2016, after many attempts by SCOAN to disrupt or stall the court proceedings, charges were finally read. The charges are “failure to obtain building approval contrary to Section 75 of the Urban and Regional Planning Law of Lagos State 2010 and involuntary manslaughter causing death contrary to Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011“. In June 2016, the trial started, but after a couple of days it went silent without conclusion. SCOAN have not been cleared of the charges, but nor have they been found guilty – the whole case has gone silent.

Where is the justice for the many families who have lost loved ones, or those whose lives will never be the same again due to their horrific injuries? Come on Lagos Stage Government, you can do better than this – show your authority and bring this case to a conclusion. Even if you are a SCOAN supporter, surely you can agree with us that it is not in SCOAN’s favour to have this unconcluded criminal investigation over their head? Reports show that visitors to SCOAN has reduced by up to 90%. Either SCOAN is guilty and should face the consequences of their lethal actions, or they should have their name cleared. This limbo situation is in nobodies favour (except SCOAN, if they know they are guilty).

Day 2 of trial: Is the SCOAN site about to be demolished?

Lagos State have discovered SCOAN didn't have a valid building permit for any of their buildings

Lagos State have revealed SCOAN didn’t have a valid building permit for any of their buildings

Day 1 of the criminal trial against SCOAN and their engineers revealed the bombshell that SCOAN had constructed a 6 storey building without the services of a structural engineer. Day 2 (20th June) revealed that SCOAN was only in possession of a single building permit, but that was now invalid:

“The Electronic Document Management System was searched and the only building approval for the church did not cover the site of the collapse building. “The document, a five – storey building approval was meant for the church auditorium but as at the time of the collapse, the church auditorium had gone from five floors to eight floors. “By the Ministry’s definition, the approval the church had for the auditorium is no longer valid and there was no application for approval registered for the collapsed building (emphasis ours, source).

So not a single building at SCOAN has a valid permit. That means none of them will have been properly inspected, and given the shocking revelation that SCOAN seem to think structural engineers are optional, none of these buildings will be safe. According to former Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development Mr. Olutoyin Adedamola Ayinde “what SCOAN did constituted a breach, thus rendering the earlier approval invalid and the punishment [is] demolition under physical planning laws of Lagos State” (source).

So if Lagos State uphold the law, the entire SCOAN compound has to be bulldozered. If this doesn’t happen, it is only a matter of time before more people are killed. Incredibly, even the SCOAN website documents the fact that this is the forth building collapse they have experienced. On their “About The SCOAN” page, it says “Before moving to our present position, The SCOAN has had three previous locations. The roof of the first church was blown off by a storm, the second church was washed away by a flood while the third church also collapsed due to severe weather conditions.” Buildings built to the correct standards do not get washed away in a flood. We hope and pray those held captive will have an opportunity to leave before things get even more messy or more people lose their life.

Visits to SCOAN down by as much as 90%

SCOAN auditorium during busier times

SCOAN auditorium during busier times

A few days ago the trial finally got underway, and day one revealed a massive bombshell. The six storey building that collapsed, was built without the services of a structural engineer. Yes, that’s right – six storeys built without involving anyone who is trained to know whether or not the structure will be safe. This is a major blow to SCOAN that will be hard to recover from, and is likely only the first of many other revelations.  Continue reading

TB Joshua trial off to a “shaky start”

The collapse building that killed 116 people

The collapse building that killed 116 people

Yesterday the trial of SCOAN trustees and the building engineers finally made a start, and you’ve got to hand it to SCOAN – they’ve bought top of the range lawyers. Finally a use for all the money TB Joshua has snaffled away in offshore accounts. No sooner had the first witness taken to the stand, and SCOAN lawyers objected due to the fact they had not been provided with the witnesses statement in advance. Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo upheld the argument, insisted all witness statements should be served to them, and adjourned the matter until June the 1st.

Continue reading

Date set for SCOAN trial

The Cameroon Concorde website has a good overview of the court proceedings from last Tuesday. Apparently the lawyers representing SCOAN and the contractors made one more attempt at stalling the proceedings, but Justice Lawal-Akapo overruled them and ordered that the charges be read in court, noting that criminal trials are to be heard expeditiously. The charges have been read to the defendants (SCOAN trustees and the two engineers), these charges are “failure to obtain building approval contrary to Section 75 of the Urban and Regional Planning Law of Lagos State 2010 and involuntary manslaughter causing death contrary to Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011“. All defendants have pleaded not guilty.

The two engineers are now being held in Kirikiri prison pending trial which will start on May 19th.

BREAKING: Engineers in custody, SCOAN trustees arraigned

Finally it appears the court are doubling down on their effort to follow through on the recommendations of the coroner to charge the SCOAN trustees and engineers with criminal negligence (and possibly culpable manslaughter). The Nigerian press are reporting that the engineers are now in custody awaiting trial, and the SCOAN trustees have been arraigned.

Now the engineers are in custody, they will now have nothing to gain from keeping quiet about any arrangement they may have had that could implicate SCOAN. Liability between the contractor and SCOAN lies in the communication between the two over the development. Poor documentation of the same will work against the contractor more than SCOAN in my opinion because they are the more knowledgeable of the two. As such, you can bet if the prosecutors focus on the contractors, TB Joshua will never rest easy until the case is concluded because the contractors’ first line of defense will be to shift as much liability as possible to SCOAN (these issues are explored in more depth here).

Let’s see what happens, and hopefully everyone can agree that the bereaved families deserve justice and closure, and this court case is the best way of that being achieved. God knows the truth, let’s pray that it finally comes out.

SCOAN’s latest application to stall case to be heard tomorrow

Quick update to remind you that the court will hear SCOAN’s latest application to shut down the criminal proceedings against them tomorrow. We hope and pray that once these applications have been rejected the path will be clear for the full case to be heard and justice to be done. With the Lekki gardens controversy in very recent memory, people will be watching the outcome with interest.

Another Lagos building collapse puts TB Joshua back in the spotlight

10q18nLast week a building collapsed in an upmarket area in Lagos, killing 31 people. Within two days, the managing director of the residential estate and his contractor were arrested and brought before a magistrate (source). Furthermore, Governor Ambode had ordered all Directors of Lekki Worldwide Estate Limited to submit themselves to the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, Mr. Fatai Owoseni, within the next twenty four hours or face immediate arrest (source).

This, of course is in stark contrast to the way Lagos State Government have dealt with the far deadlier collapse at SCOAN. Neither the contractor or the managing director general overseer have been arrested, despite constantly ignoring court demands.

This blatant injustice has not gone unnoticed, hundreds of Nigerians have been expressing their displeasure and taking to social media to call for TB Joshua’s arrest. Broadcaster “Daddy Freeze” has been leading the campaign, he wrote the following:

I have no qualms seeing a young man who committed a crime pay for that crime. Life is sad, before Richard came along, you could not dream of buying a house in LEKKI for 20million naira, his dream was to make choice housing affordable and available. Somewhere down the line mistakes were made and lives were lost! And yes I agree…… Someone must pay!

Now my questions;
Why is he in handcuffs and remanded in prison when that ‘prophet’ whose building collapsed and killed more people than Ebola, Lassa fever and this alleged ‘LEKKI gardens’ put together is walking free??? Why is that prophet not in handcuffs too??? It was even alleged, that he didn’t show up in court the last time the courts sat. Is this true??? If it is true, then why is Richard ‘remanded’ in prison while Mr prophet ‘comes from home’???

Is there a special court for ‘prophets’ or do we have special ‘laws’ for them???

Is our government afraid of prophets???

Are the people who lost their lives in the Church less valuable than the people who lost their lives in the LEKKI Gardens saga?

My humble advice: Richard should be released to go home and attend hearings from home like the ‘prophet’. Or the ‘prophet’ should be picked up, handcuffed and locked in the same cell with Richard while he attends trial!

Or does the change we voted for include turning Nigeria into the African version of George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’, where “All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others?”

I might not know law and justice, but I definitely know injustice!

I appeal to everyone to lend their voice to this and ensure we have ‘JUSTICE FOR ALL’
Please retweet this hashtag untill we are heard! #Justice4All

This could be a turning point in the whole legal process, what a shame it took the unnecessary deaths of more people before any fuss was made.

Update on TB Joshua criminal trial

To follow up on our last post, it turns out we were right to be suspicious. The post we referred to was nothing but more lies propagated by SCOAN (how can they live with themselves?). The real news is that SCOAN’s umpteenth application to halt proceedings has been rejected and the court will reconvene on the 22nd March. But yes, you guessed it – they have another application to challenge the competence of the charges filed, so the whole unbearable cycle starts again. Currently it seems like SCOAN are just playing with the courts like a kitten with a ball of wool. How much longer will this be allowed to continue?