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.

Civil case against TB Joshua is launched

You have probably seen the widely reported story about two children suing TB Joshua for the death of their father. This is the civil case we’ve been reporting on since August last year. The press have focused (perhaps for sensationalism) on the two children suing, but in fact the mother is the first plaintiff and her children have joined the mother as second and third plaintiffs. It may however prove to be fortuitous that the press have focused on the children because it will most likely win more public sympathy, and any move SCOAN makes against the case will be viewed as a move against two children who have lost their father. Continue reading

High court rejects TB Joshua’s appeal

The September 12th building collapse killed 116 people

The September 12th building collapse killed 116 people

Quick update on the court case (Bisola‘s story part 2 will be posted this evening). It appears that after the verdict of the coroner, TB Joshua lodged an appeal with the High Court challenging the verdict. Yesterday it was announced that this appeal has been rejected, clearing the way for prosecution (about time too). No doubt there will be more swings and roundabouts as SCOAN launch another appeal, but at least this is a step forward.

The thing that boggles the mind the most is that despite the coroner reporting that ALL the buildings on the SCOAN compound were built illegally (the auditorium had approval for the initial build, but had received unapproved extra floors afterwards), meetings continue to happen in them. After the international crisis caused by the first building collapse, why are Lagos State Government allowing large public meetings to continue in the buildings of a church who has already killed 116 people due to their illegal and inadequately reinforced buildings? All these buildings should be immediately shut down pending a thorough structural survey.

Let us remind you, the findings of the coroner showed clearly and unequivocally that the cause of the collapse was structural failure. Three independent agencies (the Nigeria Building And Road Research Instititute (NBBRI),  the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG)) provided 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

Although SCOAN may continue to spread lies about sonic weapons or controlled demolition, anyone who allows themselves to look at the event with an open mind will very quickly see through the lies and realise the cause of the collapse is very obvious. Let’s pray that this latest legal hurdle will clear the way for justice to be served for the sake of the victims.

Must read: What the coroner really said about TB Joshua’s death trap building

The September 12th building collapse killed 116 people

The September 12th building collapse killed 116 people

Thanks to a well connected reader, we have managed to get our hands on the official Coroner’s report on the September 12th building collapse at SCOAN. It makes for interesting reading alongside SCOAN’s official statement. What we discover is that SCOAN’s statement is a mixture of lies padded out with a great deal of irrelevant but misleading information. The report is far more comprehensive and conclusive than SCOAN would like you to believe, it leaves the reader in no doubt that the building collapsed due to not one, but multiple structural deficiencies. We have numbered SCOAN’s statements below and respond to each in turn with information from the Coroner’s report. The full report with victim details redacted is embedded at the end of this post.

The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) rejects the verdict of the coroner on the grounds that it is unreasonable, one-sided and biased. The church maintains its stand that the incident was as a result of sabotage.

From the verdict given today, we would like the public to take note of the following:

1) There was no finding that the church engaged the services of unqualified or incompetent professionals for the construction of the building.

Misleading: While it is true that the coroner’s report did not directly accuse SCOAN of using unqualified or incompetent professionals, the report states that three separate government agencies found the structure to be inadequate in numerous ways (see response to statement #6 for more details), so you could deduce from this that the contractors were either unqualified, incompetent or criminal.

2) There was no finding that the church procured substandard materials for the construction of the building, as confirmed by officials of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) who gave evidence at the coroner and certified the materials used were all approved and of good quality.

Misleading: The report did not explicitly accuse the church of procuring substandard materials, but procuring good quality materials that are inadequate for the job is just as bad, for example reinforcing a column using 10 x Y20 bars instead of the required 12 x Y25 (see response to statement #6 for more details).

3) There was evidence that the church had started processing the relevant building approval before the incident, which had been approved and assessed for payment by the appropriate government bodies.

False: The report claims that SCOAN has only ever received approval for one building, the auditorium in 2004, and even that now has an additional 3 floors and an engine room without approval (Ref: Section 6.00). It seems unlikely that the church had started to process the building approval for the collapsed building before the incident, but even if it were true it would not exonerate them because they were already using the building without approval.

4) There was no finding that connected the incident with the lack of a building permit.

Misleading: This statement is ridiculous, how could the lack of a building permit directly cause a building to collapse? They know full well the relevance of the building permit.

5) There was no finding that church members prevented the statutory responders from carrying out their rescue duties.

Possibly true: During the rescue operation, National Emergency Management Authority (NEMA) spokesman Ibrahim Farinloye told the press that “The church is not co-operating with emergency workers at all, for the first three days of the incident, the church people were very hostile and prevented rescue officials access to the site. It was after the visit of the (Lagos state) governor (Babatunde Fashola) when he threatened to close down the church that we were allowed to work. Perhaps if we had had early access to the place we would have been able to save more lives.” However, SCOAN strongly denied this, and it was not mentioned at all in the coroner’s report.

6) The church disagrees most vehemently with the finding that the incident was due to structural failure. The church considers it strange that the coroner did not refer in its verdict to the evidence of the COREN-registered structural engineer and contractor used by the church nor did it evaluate the conflicting evidence given by civil and structural engineers as to whether or not the incident was as a result of structural failure.

Misleading: Section 5.01 of the coroner’s report does contain a statement from Engr. Dr. Joseph I. Folayan, FNSE, FA Eng who was summoned to court at the request of SCOAN, it is not clear if this is the COREN-registered structural engineer their statement refers to, but it’s difficult to imagine any evidence having countered the substantial evidence pointing to structural failure as the cause of the collapse. For example, three independent agencies (the Nigeria Building And Road Research Instititute (NBBRI),  the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and the Building Collapse Prevention Guild (BCPG)) provided 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
Pack_of_lies_from_SCOAN_-_Google_Docs

One of the photos of the “suspicious” plane. The building to the right is the one that collapsed.

7) It was a one-sided verdict which left many issues unaddressed and questions unanswered. The church disagrees with the findings concerning the aircraft that hovered over the six-storey building because there was evidence before the court that the incident could have been brought about by external forces such as controlled demolition or an explosion.

False: The report addressed the aircraft, the infrasonic weapon theory and the controlled demolition theory. It is completely false and misleading to claim any of these possibilities were unaddressed, over 3 pages were dedicated to these claims. The aircraft was identified along with its altitude and flight path. The aircraft was flying at an altitude of 1100 feet, equivalent to 109 floors, meaning the aircraft was 103 floors higher than the 6 storey building. Additionally, the flight path shows a horizontal distance of 137 metres between the plane and the building at its closest point. From this they concluded that contrary to SCOAN reports, “[there was] no direct hovering of the aircraft over the subject site that would have caused the collapse of the building”.

As for the infrasonic weapon, this madcap theory was dismissed because the witness had only read about this kind of weapon in books, had not practiced or witnessed the use of the weapon and could not show how it could have caused the collapsed building to come down. What else were the court meant to do with such a bizarre theory?

Regarding the possibility controlled demolition or an explosion, The Lagos State Fire Service carried out a 360 degrees survey and found no evidence of explosives. The Investigating Police Officer said there was no evidence of the use of explosives at the site of the collapsed building, nor perception of any smell of explosives. The Chief Medical Examiner said there was no trace of carbon monoxide seen in the lungs of the deceased and none of the bodies were charred or burnt (Ref 5.00).

8) The verdict did not even refer to the CCTV footage which showed the 6-storey building falling in less than 4 seconds – a manner consistent with controlled or externally induced demolition – nor did it refer to the interim report and investigation by the Nigerian police force which pointed to sabotage by external forces.

False: The NBRRI specifically mentioned the vertical collapse shown in the CCTV footage stating that “…the building failed as a result of the ground columns yielding due to excessive weight on the 750mm by 300mm columns and the 10 x Y20mm bars as measured on the site and evident by the vertical collapse of the building captured by the CCTV of the Synagogue Church”. The BCPG report said that a sudden and complete collapse was inevitable because the building was not robust or stable enough (Ref 5.01b), and that a column failure by buckling can result in a sudden collapse like the one witnessed, more so because there were no rigid zones within the structure (Ref 5.01e). Regarding the possibility of controlled demolition, see response to statement #7.

9) The church also disagrees with the finding that foundation failure was a remote cause because that is contrary to the overwhelming expert evidence of the structural engineers invited to the coroner who eliminated foundation failure as a possible cause.

Misleading: Foundation failure was only a small factor out of many structural failures, and it’s not even mentioned as a primary cause. See response to statement #6 for more details.

10) The recommendation for the investigation and prosecution of the contractors and structural engineers used by the church for criminal negligence is premature because it gives the impression the coroner has found them guilty when a coroner is not allowed in law to make any finding of civil or criminal liability against anybody.

Possibly true: Although the coroner’s report showed substantial evidence that SCOAN and the contractor were criminally negligent, the coroner arguably overstepped his authority by calling for SCOAN to be prosecuted. Perhaps someone better versed in Nigerian law could comment further on this?

11) The recommendation for the investigation of The SCOAN for not possessing the relevant building permits is unwarranted because it did not take into account the evidence that the church had started processing the relevant building approval before the incident. As a matter of fact, the amount payable for the processing had already been assessed by the appropriate government agencies.

Misleading, probably false: As mentioned in response to statement #3, no other building on the SCOAN campus had up to date approval, so this seems unlikely, but even if true it is irrelevant. They were housing guests in a building prior to receiving approval.

12) The recommendation that statutory responders should be adequately equipped was informed by the fact that the statutory responders who carried out rescue operations in this case were ill-equipped and ill-trained, and that it was the church that mobilised human and material resources to ensure a successful rescue operation.

Misleading: This line is just scapegoating. There is a clear disconnect between the accounts of SCOAN and the emergency responders, but it was clear that SCOAN were in full “cover-up mode” in the first few days after the tragedy, so their statements should be taken with a bucketful of salt. Ultimately, regardless of how prepared or not the emergency responders were, the coroner’s report makes it clear that the disaster they were trying to respond to was caused by the criminal negligence of SCOAN, let’s not allow SCOAN to deflect blame here.

13) Finally, the coroner recognised that the conduct of the investigation of the incident was compromised by the failure of the appropriate government agencies to take necessary steps to secure and preserve the scene of the incident, which calls into question the integrity and reliability of the entire investigation.

Misleading: It’s difficult to imagine who they needed to secure the scene of the incident from if not SCOAN themselves. Nevertheless, the findings related to the structural integrity of the building could not have been compromised by a poorly preserved site. Are they wanting us to believe that foundations were reduced in size and reinforcing bars were removed in order to implicate SCOAN and cover up the real cause of the collapse? The fact that SCOAN attempt to use this minor and irrelevant point to call into question the integrity and reliability of the entire investigation is shocking and revealing as it shows how desperate they are to bury this.

14) We repeat: No matter how long a lie is sustained, the truth will someday prevail!

Truth! Finally, this is something we wholeheartedly agree on, and the coroner’s report is a great step in the right direction. Support for SCOAN is rapidly eroding as people see how much they have been misleading the general public.

What happens next?

Just days ago, Lagos State Governor Akinwunmi Ambode released a statement supporting the coroner’s recommendation and vowing to prosecute SCOAN and the contractor. The big question that remains unanswered is: Why are the government still allowing SCOAN to operate? The structural integrity of the collapsed building had been so seriously compromised by poor building practices, why should we believe that the other buildings are safe? The report specifically states that no building on the SCOAN compound had approval, except for the auditorium which had since had three additional floors and an engine room built without approval. Every building on the site could be as much of a deathtrap as the doomed one was, why does the government still allow thousands of people to gather there each week?

BREAKING: SCOAN to be prosecuted for criminal negligence over building collapse

The collapse building that killed 116 people

The collapse building that killed 116 people

Coroner Oyetade Komolafe has 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). The contractor will also be investigated.

TB Joshua was criticised by the coroner for being the only one of 32 witnessed called before the court to not turn up, “Among the individuals and organisations summoned, only Prophet TB Joshua refused to testify,” he told the court. SCOAN’s nonsensical theory involving an unidentified aircraft and futuristic weapons was ruled out by “a string of expert witnesses” (Source: Yahoo news).

This ruling may not surprise our more level headed readers, but it is an enormous victory for the rule of law in Nigeria. It makes a loud and clear statement that nobody is above the law, even a self proclaimed “man of god” with a large following and millions in the bank. Well done Lagos State Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, we salute your courage and conviction, you have done your country a great service.

What happens next for TB Joshua? Since he is currently keeping a low profile in Central America, we predict he will not be reappearing any time soon. In fact it seems likely the SCOAN ministry will now slowly fade away. However, even if this does happen, the story is far from over. Please join us in praying for the following points:

  • For the victims of the building collapse and the families of the deceased, pray that this verdict helps them find closure.
  • For the disciples still in SCOAN. They will be confused and scared at the verdict, but as often happens in a crisis, will probably dig in deeper. Pray that God reveals the truth to them and gives them a chance to escape the cult and be reunited to the families and friends who dearly long to see them.
  • For the ongoing investigation and forthcoming prosecution, pray that the truth is revealed and justice is served.
  • For peace in Nigeria. TB Joshua has many ferociously loyal supporters. This verdict will not go down well with them. It would not be surprising if violence broke out as a result of this news.
  • For the safety of Lagos State Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe.

Is TB Joshua about to be arrested?

Apparently TB Joshua has failed to turn up to court for a second time:

Oyetade Komolafe was furious that TB Joshua was not in court for the start of the hearing, which is examining the circumstances of the September 12 tragedy in which 116 people were killed.

“So, TB Joshua is not in court, the (building) contractor is not in court. Any of the witnesses who is not in court today will be arrested,” the coroner said.

“I will issue a warrant of arrest for such a witness. I think the court has been lenient enough.” (source)

What ever happened to “Good Christians are good citizens“?

In other news, the origins of the mysterious plane has been discovered, and the idea of it having anything to do with the building collapse has been dispelled:

“We have found out that the aircraft belongs to the NAF (Nigerian Air Force) and was said to be on a circuit training mission at the time of the incident,” Police investigator Superintendent Olusola Agoi told the hearing on Wednesday.

“This was confirmed by the NAF,” he added.

The plane, which was flying at 1,100 feet (300 metres), was on the flight path to the nearby Lagos airport, according to experts who dismissed Joshua’s claim.

“Based on the distance of the aircraft to the building, it was practically impossible for the aircraft to cause the collapse,” Lagos State building inspector Olutoyin Ayinde had said last month. (source)

Remains of SCOAN victims returned to South Africa

Remember the families of the deceased in your thoughts and prayers as their grief is reawakened with the returning of their loved ones bodies from Lagos. News updates are listed below courtesy of Just Wonder.

A women is carried by officials after collapsing from grief

The names of the deceased being read out too much to bear for some of the family members who are crying loudly
A stretcher being brought in for one of the traumatized relatives

Member of Lagos repatriation team dies of malaria

Pretoria – A department of health employee died after contracting malaria while assisting in Nigeria, Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe said on Sunday.
Radebe said Pieter Fourie, who was a member of the medical team sent to Lagos for the repatriation of the church building collapse victims, died on Friday.

http://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/Member-of-Lagos-repatriation-team-dies-of-malaria-20141116

The repatriation of the bodies was a concerted effort: Ngcakula

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKA9h08TB2A

Remains of Nigeria building collapse victims arrive in SA

CENTURION – A plane carrying the remains of 74 of the victims of the Nigerian church collapse has landed at Waterkloof air base in Pretoria.

http://www.enca.com/south-africa/remains-nigeria-building-collapse-victims-arrive-sa

‘Lagos victims’ bodies are rotting’

“Out of concern for potential secondary trauma to the families as well as public health considerations, government discourages all families from viewing the mortal remains.”
“The bodies of about 80 South Africans killed when a church building collapsed in Lagos more than three weeks ago are decomposing in inadequate Nigerian mortuaries….”

A statement issued by the South African government on September 28 hinted at the state of the bodies: “Part of what was communicated to the families is that, due to the scale of the disaster, passage of time and climatic conditions, most of the mortal remains are not in a good state.

http://www.iol.co.za/news/africa/lagos-victims-bodies-are-rotting-1.1760132

Nigeria tragedy: Aaron Motsoaledi

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fd_mtL88o1k

Bathabile Dlamini on the arrival of the SA bodies from Nigeria

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yySpQe-IBXA

LAGOS – Minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe says the remains of only 74 of the 85 victims of the Lagos building collapse will be brought back home.

Briefing the media in the Nigerian capital, Radebe said 80 South African specialists are still busy trying to identify the bodies of the other victims.
The health professionals and police officials arrived there on Friday night and were deployed to three hospitals to oversee the repatriation process.
The medical team has urged families not to view the bodies.
A religious service will be held at Waterkloof at 2pm on Sunday and TB Joshua, the ‘man of god’ could not!
http://www.enca.com/africa/west-africa/nigeria-church-collapse-74-bodies-coming-home

Families of Nigeria disaster victims heading to Pretoria

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHszLVbKsBU

SA government positive about bodies repatriation

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awcUH4u7Ysg

Sophie Mokoena on repatriation of Nigeria tragedy victim’s bodies

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ybgvm3ihzdY