The coroner’s inquest investigating the circumstances surrounding the collapse of a six-storey guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) could not continue on Tuesday as scheduled due to the indefinite nationwide strike embarked upon by the Judicial Staff Union of Nigeria (JUSUN).
The inquest, presided over by Chief Magistrate, Oyetade Komolafe, had at the last sitting on December 23, 2014, been adjourned till January 6, 2015.
But the JUSUN ongoing nationwide strike which commenced on January 2, this year had led to the gate of the Lagos High Court, Ikeja, where the Coroner’s Court is sitting being under lock and key.
The Lagos State Government inaugurated the Coroner’s Inquest under the state Coroner’s System Law No.7 of 2007 to investigate the cause and circumstances resulting in the death of 166 people following the building collapse of September 12, 2014, and bring its findings and recommendations to the appropriate authorities.
At the last hearing of the matter, the National Executive Co-ordinator of Life Savers Foundation (LSF), Mrs. Fola Soetan, told the court that the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) are not well equipped to manage disaster situations in the country.
Soetan, whose organisation, LSF is non-governmental, non-religious and non-political, said she witnessed the rescue operation at the collapse site from the very first day till the last day as she did not leave the site throughout.
The witness also urged both the federal and state governments to adequately equip the statutory disaster management agencies to enable them become more effective in rescue operations.
She said based on what she witnessed during the operation, the agencies still have long way to go in rescue operations.
Soetan also dismissed the allegations by previous witnesses that the church members constituted a crowd which hindered the rescue operation, adding that youths from the church played a major role in the rescue operations.