THE Lagos State government has said the six-floor guest house of the Synagogue Church for All Nations (SCOAN), which collapsed last week Friday, had no approved building plan.
This was made known by the state Commissioner for Physical Planning and Urban Development, Mr Olutoyin Ayinde, who, however, said the government had no plan to seal off the church until all investigations were concluded.
The commissioner made this known in a press release made available to the media, where he also expressed the condolences and sympathy of the ministry and state government over the sad development.
Ayinde said the ministry, which has the statutory right to seal off such buildings, had no plans in the offing to take over the collapsed structure site now, until thorough and detailed investigations into the cause(s) must have been conducted and appropriate conclusions reached.
He stressed that this was in line with the established style of never to arbitrarily take over properties when investigations were still ongoing.
The commissioner said the ministry had submitted the video clips of the incident, as provided by SCOAN, to the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA), with the coordinate of the site, for investigation and professional comments.
Meanwhile, rescue and evacuation exercise continues at the site, as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) put the total number of bodies recovered as of Wednesday evening at 80.
Spokesperson of the agency, Ibrahim Farinloye, while speaking with the Nigerian Tribune, also claimed that no new survivor of the collapsed building had been rescued.
There were strong indication on Wednesday evening that the emergency workers might conclude their activities today, as they are close to the ground floor of the building.
Emergency workers, which included officials of the NEMA, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Nigeria Police and others, were seen on Wednesday evening battling to see if more bodies could be recovered.
Farinloye said “as of now, the total number of bodies that we have recovered is 80 and we have not rescued any new victim, apart from the 131 earlier rescued.”
He also added that the emergency operation would continue till today, adding that the exercise might be concluded today.
Suspected relatives of those involved in the incident were seen at the gate, but were prevented from gaining entrance.
In another development, the South African government has said as many as 300 South Africans were visiting the church when a building in the compound collapsed.
The government spokesman, Mac Maharaj, who gave further insight on Wednesday, said it was not clear how many were on the spot when the tragedy struck.
President Jacob Zuma had, on Tuesday, said at least 67 South Africans died in last Friday’s accident at the church and described it as one of the worst tragedies in South Africa’s recent history.
Zuma’s tally conflicted with that of the Nigerian emergency services, who late on Tuesday, put the overall death toll at 62. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.
Pretoria described the search and rescue operation as “very fluid” but defended the credibility of its count of 67 dead, saying it was based on records and information on the ground from five tour groups which had arranged for South African worshippers to go to Lagos.
“This number is based on credible information,” foreign ministry spokesman, Clayson Monyela, said.