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Collapsed Synagogue building was built in conformity with British standards – Prof Nwankwo

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A professor of international repute in building and structural engineering, Patrick Nwankwo and one of the engineers that investigated the collapsed guest house of the Synagogue church of All Nations (SCOAN), on Thursday told a Lagos State High Court sitting at Igbosere that the collapsed Synagogue Church Guest House had nothing to do with structural deficiencies.

He stated that the structural elements of the building, before its collapse, were adequate and satisfied the Bristish Standard codes of practice when subjected to investigations.

Nwankwo, while giving evidence before the court presided over by Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo as eighth defence witness, also noted that the loading, beams, columns and the foundation were never the cause of the collapsed building.

Akinbela Fatiregun, Oladele Ogundeji and their companies, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd – alongside the trustees of the church – are being tried on 111-count of gross negligence and criminal manslaughter.

More than 100 persons died when the church’s seven-story guest house collapsed on September 12, 2014, with 85 of the deceased from South Africa.

Nwankwo, while being led in evidence by Mr Olalekan Ojo SAN, further revealed that he learnt of the collapsed building in the media and from the fourth defendant in the case, Engr Oladele Ogundeji who was the supervisor and a competent COREN certified engineer and member of the Nigeria Society of Engineers NSE.

Professor Nwankwo, who was subpoenaed by the court, said he visited the collapsed building site, took some measurements and carried out thorough investigations on what could have been responsible for its collapse.

The renowned building expert who had been involved in practical constructions and various investigations of troubled structures across Nigeria and Europe said:
“With the information at my disposal, I remodelled the building with Orion design software, took photographs of the exposed steel and foundation, examined the soil capacity of the building, the expected foundation to be seen in place, the steel reinforcement, loading, beams and columns which were all perfectly adequate from my investigations.

“In the cause of my investigation, I also interviewed a technical staff who is a certified architect being a maintenance officer and a survivor in order to find out if there were any deflections or cracks on the building prior to its collapse and in which they said there wasn’t any.

“I further carried out a remodeling on the building to find out the accurate measure of the load which the building was meant to carry and on the structural elements and I found them from the investigations carried out that they all fulfilled all requirements according to the best standard in the codes of practice”.

He also told the court that he documented his findings in a report which is before the court.

“My conclusion is that the loading and beam used on the design of the collapsed building were the exact values used recommended for such a building”.

He further submitted that his findings on the SCOAN building revealed that the beam was not the cause of the collapsed building nor the structural elements which were all adequate as revealed from what was built on the site”

Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo adjourned the case to Friday for continuation of the trial.