Get more Mail & Guardian
Subscribe or Login

Nigerian president visits collapsed building site, vows to investigate

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan visited the collapsed guesthouse at a mega-church in the economic capital of Lagos on Saturday, vowing to investigate the cause of the tragedy, which left at least 86 dead.

Work was going on to add more floors to the guesthouse at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) owned by televangelist TB Joshua when the building came down on September 12, leaving scores trapped in the debris. Most of the dead were pilgrims from South Africa who had come to see the preacher, a self-proclaimed miracle worker. 

“My coming here is to express my personal condolences to Prophet Joshua, the Synagogue of All Nations and of course the bereaved families,” Jonathan said during the visit. The Nigerian leader, who arrived by helicopter at the sprawling church compound in the Ikotun area of Lagos, promised to investigate the cause of the collapse. 

He said he would hold talks with the construction industry and state governors on how to prevent a repeat of the tragedy. “We will work with the people to ensure that such an incident does not happen again,” he said. 

Jonathan said he deeply regretted that scores of South Africans had died in the tragedy, and that he had already expressed his sympathies with President Jacob Zuma. Ibrahim Farinloye, of the National Emergency Management Agency, told Agence-France Presse the death toll in the incident now stood at 86, up from 84 after emergency teams cross-checked their figures.

“Several rescue teams at state and federal levels were involved in the operations. We sat together and reconciled our figures which has now brought the death toll to 86. But those rescued still stands at 131,” he said. Eighty-four South Africans had been confirmed dead in the incident by the country’s high commissioner to Nigeria Lulu Mnguni. 

Forensic experts
He said forensic experts have arrived Nigeria from South Africa to determine the identities of the victims. It is believed that there were 349 South Africans visiting the church at the time of the collapse. T

he church’s leader Joshua, who has blamed the incident on sabotage, is one of Nigeria’s best-known Pentecostal preachers and is referred to by followers across the world as “The Prophet” or “The Man of God”. 

He claims to work miracles, including raising people from the dead and healing the sick, and foreseeing disasters. The Lagos state government has accused the church of adding extra floors to the existing structure without approval. It has ordered urgent structural integrity tests on all buildings in the sprawling compound, including the main church, which Joshua says was designed by the Holy Spirit. In a separate incident, police in Edo state, southern Nigeria, said three people were killed when a church building there that was under renovation collapsed on Friday. 

“The bodies of three workers hired to renovate the building were recovered from the debris,” state police spokesman Friday Noble Uwoh told AFP. He said five people were rescued. He said the building in the state capital Benin city is owned by Christ Chosen Church of God, adding that the cause of the collapse could not be immediately determined. Building collapses are common in Nigeria because of the use of substandard material and the flouting of construction regulations. – AFP

Subscribe to the M&G

Thanks for enjoying the Mail & Guardian, we’re proud of our 36 year history, throughout which we have delivered to readers the most important, unbiased stories in South Africa. Good journalism costs, though, and right from our very first edition we’ve relied on reader subscriptions to protect our independence.

Digital subscribers get access to all of our award-winning journalism, including premium features, as well as exclusive events, newsletters, webinars and the cryptic crossword. Click here to find out how to join them.

Agoi Joel Olatunde
Joel Olatunde Agoi
Journalist AFP Lagos Bureau.

Related stories

WELCOME TO YOUR M&G

If you’re reading this, you clearly have great taste

If you haven’t already, you can subscribe to the Mail & Guardian for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a week, and get more great reads.

Already a subscriber? Sign in here

Advertising

Subscribers only

Bloated Sassa to make staff cuts

The social security agency has ‘lost’ R2-billion on unnecessary salaries and through wasteful expenditure

SANDF’s ‘dignity’ comes with a R200mn price tag

Find out about the SANDF’s new uniform, which is costing taxpayers close to R200-million, while mission-critical equipment is not maintained

More top stories

Young people call for an end to the terrible legacy...

‘The generation of 1976 did not fight to end the injustices of their time only for there to be the dawn of a climate apartheid’

Honey laundering: Transcontinental scheme puts fake honey into our supermarkets

South African beekeepers compete with cheap honey imports while still using ethical, bee-friendly practices

Gen Z: A joyful life in a damaged society

The moral dilemma of privilege has led to nihilism as well as unprecedented social justice action

Lipstick, blush and Boko Haram: Meet the make-up artists of...

Despite the insurgency, which has killed many people, caused the displacement of millions, confines women to traditional roles and forbids the education of girls, women are fending for their families and starting lucrative businesses. Meet the make-up artists of Maiduguri
Advertising

press releases

Loading latest Press Releases…
×