The Coroner’s Inquest investigating the circumstances which led to the collapse of a six-storey guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) on Friday admitted as exhibit a medical report tendered by the contractor of the collapsed building, Engineer Akin Fatiregun.
The collapsed building contractor had appeared before the inquest last Tuesday when the Coroner, Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, threatened to arrest him.
But the contractor, Fatiregun could not give any evidence before the court on that day as he claimed to have just left the hospital bed to honour the court’s invitation.
He also promised to reappear by Friday (yesterday) believing he would have been discharged from the hospital.
Fatiregun however, through his counsel, Sarah Edoha tendered medical report claiming to still be on admission at the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH).
Edoha told the court the contractor’s absence was not to disobey the court's summons earlier served on him to appear before it for the purposes of testifying.
Komolafe, after listening to the arguments of other lawyers involved in the inquest on the admissibility of the report said, "I am not doubting the report obtained from LASUTH until the contrary is established. But the report shows that the contractor is sick."
Specifically in his argument on the admissibility of the report, lawyer to the state, Akingbolahan Adeniran who posited that the report should be verified, maintained that the contractor should have sent other representatives to testify, bearing in mind time was of the essence.
Counsel to SCOAN, Mr. Olalekan Ojo stressed that all that was required was for the medical report to be tendered before the court.
The lawyer further argued that it was not possible for another person to appear to testify before the court, because the court summoned only the sick contractor.
“The medical report from LASUTH is highly reputable all over the world and cannot be challenged. The contractor seriously has the passion to be in court, but his ill health would not allow him.
Meanwhile, a British citizen and volunteer with SCOAN, Robert Badagry in his testimony before the court expressed sadness that rescue workers did not come to the collapsed site with enough equipment.
"Eighty five per cent of the first responders left the collapsed site at about 5:30pm even when they have the knowledge that some dead persons were still being trapped underneath the collapsed guest house.
"A man who introduced himself as a representative of the Federal Government did not even come with any equipment at least for the purposes of rescue operations.
"But the church members stayed back after the first responders had left to continue saving lives. The police was equally on ground to ensure that enough security was provided for the rescue operation.
"The first responders were being economical with the truth when they said they were denied easy access to the collapsed site. An entire structure cannot come down at once as a result of structural defect.
"I was not at the collapsed site all through the night and cannot speak directly as per the rescue operation that took place all through the night.