At the ongoing inquest into the cause of the collapse of a building at The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) that led to over 100 deaths, a witness for the Lagos State Police has told the court that the theory of sabotage has not been ruled out.


The Unit Commander in charge of the Explosive Ordinance Device (EOD) of the Lagos State Police Command, ASP Olakunle Olanrewaju, told the coroner that the police is still investigating the theory that explosives were used to cause the collapse of The SCOAN building on 12th September, 2014.

ASP Olanrewaju made this submission when he was being cross-examined by counsel to The SCOAN, Olalekan Ojo at the resumed sitting of the coroner on Wednesday, 17th December, 2014.

The police officer told the court that he got to the scene of the incident on the 13th of September, 2014 at exactly 4:30am, following instructions from his boss, the Lagos State Police Commissioner, Kayode Aderanti.

ASP Olanrewaju explained to the court that it was not possible to carry out a Post Blast Investigation (PBI) because of the heavy presence of rescue operators, security operatives and their equipment which could have tampered with the debris at the scene. According to him: ?For us to carry out a proper PBI, the scene of the incident would have to be cordoned off to avoid a situation where anything is tampered with but in this case, it was not so as rescue operators, security personnel and sympathizers had already thronged the scene?.

Questioned as to whether his team?s presence was necessary, the EOD Unit Commander could not give a categorical answer. He however submitted that the desire of the State Police Command to confirm whether or not a bomb or any other explosive device was used was responsible for his team?s presence at the scene of the collapse.

He also observed that not all explosions ignite fire. According to him, some are in form of smokes which could be powder-like: ?Concerning the issue of whether fire should accompany all explosives, we have explosions or explosives that only ignite smoke without any form of fire. Thus, we can?t rule out the possibility of explosives until the laboratory test comes out.?

Meanwhile, a mild drama ensued in court when the witness acknowledged the heavy presence of rescue operatives and their equipment at the scene of the collapse. The visibly shocked Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe referred him to the deposition submitted to the court by NEMA in which the emergency management agency claimed that it was not allowed to carry out its statutory duties at the scene of the incident.

The equally shocked witness said it was strange that NEMA could make such a claim. He said, ?I am surprised by this statement credited to NEMA because I saw both NEMA and LASEMA officials working at the scene of the incident without any hindrance. If at all they said this, then they must be lying. I am under oath and will never lie to this honourable court. Whatever I say here is nothing but the truth?.

While thanking the Unit Commander for his open-mindedness and sincerity regarding the conduct of his testimony, Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe adjourned proceedings to the next day, Thursday 18th December, 2014.

Nosa Osazuwa, a writer from Lagos, has been present during the coroner’s inquest from its onset


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