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Synagogue Building Collapse: Police Chief Says Aircraft Flew Low over Building

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An Assistant Commissioner of Police, Alaba Haruna, on Friday told a Lagos High Court that an aircraft flew over Synagogue Church of All Nations building at Ikotun-Egbe, a Lagos suburb, just before it collapsed on September 12, 2014, killing 116 people.

He said one of his patrol teams observed an aircraft flying low over the church and other buildings in the premises.

Mr Haruna testified before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of an Igbosere High Court on Lagos Island as a defence witness in the trial of the registered trustees of the church and four others.

The church opened its defence in a one-count charge of building without approval brought against it by the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) following the dismissal of its no-case submission on March 8, 2016.

The other defendants are the two engineers who built the building: Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, and their companies, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd.

Apart from the trustees’ one-count charge, the other defendants are facing a 110-count bordering on involuntary manslaughter.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Mr Haruna, Area Commander of the Eastern Ports Command, Port Harcourt, Rivers, was the Divisional Police Officer at Ikotun-Egbe at the time the building collapsed.

He was led in evidence by the trustees counsel, Oluseye Diyan.

Mr Haruna said: “On that fateful day on September 12, 2014 at 12.30 p.m., there was a radio communication from the police control room at Ikeja that they were receiving calls from the public of an aircraft flying at low altitude over the church.

“I was directed by the Area Command to confirm the incident and monitor the aircraft’s activities.

“I wanted to go out and direct my men to watch out for the aircraft when I received another report of an airplane flying at a very low altitude. I went outside but I couldn’t see it, by that time it had gone.

 

“I received a call later from Insp. Lucky Ugbaja, stationed at the church that one of the church’s buildings had collapsed.”

According to him, the radio room had earlier radioed the Police Airport Command to confirm whether it was carrying out any activity in the church vicinity.

Mr Haruna said when he arrived at the church’s premises there was a large crowd and the few police officers there were trying to manage the situation.

He said onlookers kept trooping in and the crowd spilled to the roads outside the church, causing serious gridlock.

“We were overwhelmed,” Mr Haruna told the judge, adding that he called for more police officers and were provided.

According to him, the floors of the collapsed building were lying one on the other, “the church members and others at the scene were engaged in rescue operations.

“Those I met there were church worshipers; they were bringing out so many people from under the rubble. Most of the victims were alive. Some were injured, some were not.

“Later the Red Cross, Life Savers, National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) arrived and joined us in the rescue.”

He said the rescue mission lasted about seven days.

During cross-examination by the prosecutor, Babajide Martins, Mr Haruna insisted that he could not recall any instance when LASEMA officials or the then Commissioner for Physical Planning, Toyin Ayinde, were prevented by the church members from gaining access to the site of the collapsed building.

 

He said:“Apart from the LASEMA GM who said he had a herculean task passing through the crowd, no other had problems passing through.

When Mr Martins asked him why he concluded that the rescuers were church members or worshipers, Haruna said: “Commonsense suggests that they were.”

Following the prosecution’s application for an adjournment, Mr Lawal-Akapo adjourned further proceedings until June 28.

(NAN)

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Wike Not Sincere with Makinde, Ortom, Ikpeazu, Ugwuanyi – PDP PCC

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A spokesperson for the Peoples Democratic Party Presidential Campaign Council, Mr Daniel Bwala, has said that the Governor of Rivers State and leader of the aggrieved G-5 PDP governors, Nyesom Wike, was deceiving his four colleagues over the presidential candidate they would collectively support.

Bwala alleged that Wike was supporting the presidential candidate of the All Progressives Congress, Asiwaju Bola Tinubu, but that he could not make it public because he had given his colleagues the impression that he was supporting the presidential candidate of the Labour Party, Mr Peter Obi.

The four governors are Samuel Ortom of Benue State; Okezie Ikpeazu of Abia State; Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi of Enugu State, and Seyi Makinde of Oyo State. The governors had vowed not to support the party’s presidential candidate, Atiku Abubakar, unless the national chairman, Iyorchia Ayu, stepped aside.

In an interview with Saturday PUNCH, Bwala described Wike as inconsequential, noting that he reneged on his promise to announce the G-5 and Integrity Group’s preferred candidate for fear of outright expulsion by the party. He said open support for another party’s candidate would be a proven anti-party activity against him.

He said, “He is dishonest and inconsequential. You recall that he promised to announce their preferred candidate in January. When a BBC correspondent reminded him of the pledge, he responded that January had not ended. Now that January is over, he said he never revealed to anyone the methodology of disclosure of their preferred candidate. He is now saying he has told his people who to vote for.

“He can’t announce his candidate because he knows the consequences. The party can expel him outright for gross misconduct and anti-party activities. He made them (his colleagues) believe that he was behind Peter Obi. So, he can’t openly come out now to declare support for the APC candidate because the other four governors do not want Tinubu.”

The Punch

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Presidential Candidate: PDP PCC Accuses Wike of Frustration, Lack of Integrity

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The Peoples Democratic Party Campaign Council in Rivers State has taken a swipe at the state governor, Nyesom Wike, over the cancellation of the approval granted for the party’s presidential campaign in Port Harcourt, the state capital.

The spokesman for the PDP PCC in the state, Dr Leloonu Nwibubasa, who stated this in an interview with The PUNCH, also said the governor lacked integrity for not naming his preferred presidential candidate in January as he promised.

Nwibubasa said from all indications, the governor was increasingly frustrated.

On Wednesday, the state government cancelled the approval given to the PDP for the rally of its standard bearer to hold in the state on February 11, 2023.

The cancellation was contained in a letter signed by the state Commissioner for Sports, Christopher Green, and addressed to the Director General, PDP PCC, Aminu Tambuwal.

The letter said credible information available to the state government showed that the PDP PCC was working in collaboration with a faction of the All Progressives Congress in the state led by Tonye Cole.

It added that information at the government’s disposal show that activities of the APC in the state have always been marred by violence due largely to irreconcilable internal conflicts within the party.

It added, “The Rivers State Government is unable to risk damage to or destruction of the very valuable and priced asset, the Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, which your use of the same in collaboration with your Tonye Patrick Cole APC faction will expose it to.

“In the circumstance, the Rivers State Government has come to the painful but inevitable decision to withdraw the approval earlier given to you for the use of the stadium and the said approval is hereby withdrawn.”

Nwibubasa, while confirming the development, described the state government’s earlier approval as a Greek gift.

Berating Wike, Nwibubasa further said the governor was not a good fighter, because a good fighter knows when to quit.

Nwibubasa stated, “We are not surprised when certain decisions are taken because it all amounts to the fact that the level of frustration is increasing.

“We will only appeal to him that he should return to his party and return to the part of peace. And that is part of honour. No one fights a war and refuses to evaluate the same war, and knows when to call it quits. He is not a good fighter.

“For the presidential candidate of the PDP, we are very certain that Rivers people are happy with him. They are in love with him and they are going to vote for him en masse come February 25, 2023.”

Asked what he thinks about Wike’s inability to name his preferred presidential candidate as he had promised, he said it shows the governor has no integrity.

“His inability to name his preferred candidate as publicly announced in January, again is a pointer to his level of instability and incoherence.”

“It tells of his integrity that he cannot match his words with action. So, for us, it is painful that we have a governor who says one thing and does the other.

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Just In: Fifth Columnists in the Presidency Working Against Tinubu, Says El-Rufai

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By Michael Effiong

Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai, has revealed that there are some fifth columnists in the presidency who want the All Progressives Congress ( APC) to lose the 2023 Presidential election.

Speaking on Channels TV flagship programme, Sunrise Daily, Governor El-Rufai affirmed that there was serious division in the APC Presidential Campaign Council.

He stated that some people in the Presidency because Asiwaju Bola Tinubu was not their preferred candidate are working against his interest.

He noted that the Naira redesign was not an APC problem but a Presidency problem, urging Nigerians to ignore their current situation and still vote for Tinubu as a person.

On the fuel crisis, he said fuel subsidy had been a problem for many years and that it was President Buhari and not APC that has insisted on the subsidy which is costing the nation a whopping six Trillion Naira.

He revealed that as far back as 2016, Buhari had been advised to remove subsidy but he had bluntly refused.

Governor El Rufai used the opportunity to hail his tenure in Kaduna State, noting that his government has attracted over $4billion worth of investments to the state.

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