Undersized Structure Caused Synagogue Church Building Collapse, Structural Engineer Tells Court

By Moji Eniola

Ikeja – Mr Oreoluwa Fadayomi, a structural engineer and member of the team that investigated the collapsed guest house of the Synagogue Church of All Nations on Friday told an Ikeja High Court that “undersized structure” of the building caused its collapse.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Akinbela Fatiregun and Oladele Ogundeji and their companies : Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd., alongside the trustees of the church, are being tried for a 111-count charge of gross negligence and criminal manslaughter.

More than 116 persons died when church’s seven-storey guest house collapsed on Sept. 12, 2014, 85 of the deceased were South Africans.

Fadayomi, the seventh prosecution witness and member of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN), made the revelation while being cross-examined by the Defence.

NAN also reports that Fadayomi was in the witness box for about six hours during the proceedings which ended at 5.40 p.m.

He was cross-examined by the defence team of four lawyers which included three Senior Advocates of Nigeria.

Speaking under cross-examination by Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the defence counsel for the trustees of the church, Fadayomi revealed the real reasons for the collapse of the building.

“Some of the facts contained in paragraph 8.0 of the report of the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute Report
(NBRI) tally with the findings in my investigative report.

“The building collapsed due to undersizing and under-reinforcement of the structure; the structure required 20y25 millimeters or 20y20 millimeters which would have been too congested for the size of the column used,” he said.

As Chief Efe Akpofure (SAN), representing Hardrock Construction Company, took his turn to cross-examine Fadayomi, he said:“I used both the Nigerian and British codes during my investigation, the minimum requirements for the laboratory tests for high yield reinforcements is 460 million per millimeter square.

“The requirements of both the British and Nigerian codes are the same.”

Fadayomi also said during a cross-examination by Mrs Titi Akinlawon (SAN), counsel to Fatiregun, that he never visited the site
of the collapsed building until March 2015.

“I joined the Investigative Committee in February 2015, I did not visit the site until the committee visited in March 2015.

“I have never viewed the structure while it was still standing before it collapsed in September 2014 and I did not know the
state of the building before it collapsed.

“By the time I visited in March 2015, the structure had come to ground zero and some of the rubbles had been removed from
the site.

“I took measurements at the site and I was able to identify the main beam used in the structure.

“The length or span of the building that collapsed was 57 meters,” Fadayomi said.

Fadayomi also told Mr Olalekan Ojo, counsel to Ogundeji and Jandy Trust Ltd that despite the site of the collapsed building
not being fully preserved, he was able to come to the conclusion in his findings the cause of the collapse.

“A Structural Engineer with the adequate experience does a forensic analysis of a building site.

“It is desirable to preserve the physical evidence at the collapse site, though tampering with the evidence will affect the conduct
of the investigation and in the case of the Synagogue building collapse, I found what I was looking for.

“My findings were based on actual facts of what I found on the site, I initially referred to the main beam of the structure as the ‘suspected main beam.

“As at that time, we did not have the drawings from the church to confirm if it was the main beam.

“During desk analysis, it was confirmed as the main beam, the desk analysis in question, was in April 2015 before the submission of our report.

“During the course of my investigation, I did not come across a letter appointing Akinfenwa as an engineer or project manager,” he said

Fadayomi added:“However, I came across a document from the church which appointed Akinfenwa as the Project Manager of the building.

“I did not interview survivors of the building collapse, that was outside my scope of duty, I am a Structural Engineer not a Public Health Officer.

“However, in the course of my investigation a compact disc (CD) was given to me where I listened to the occupants and survivors of the collapse building recant what happened.

“I did not interview Ogundeji the fourth defendant but I got an affidavit which he swore to which revealed relevant facts of the case.

“The collapse of a building can be caused by external factors other than structural defects.”

Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo adjourned the case until July 13 and July 14 for continuation of trial.

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