The National Airspace Management Agency (NAMA) has finally admitted that the aircraft that flew four times above the building at The SCOAN before its tragic symmetrical collapse belongs to the military.
This assertion came during the continued proceedings at the coroner’s inquest in Lagos to determine the cause of the buildings collapse. Prior to this, Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe had reiterated the court’s intention not to witch-hunt or prosecute anybody, observing that it is only on a fact-finding mission aimed at forestalling future recurrences.
He made this observation while receiving a fresh application from lead counsel to The SCOAN, Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, who asked the court to stay action on the invitation of The SCOAN’s General Overseer, Prophet T.B. Joshua until the determination of the a suit which is before Justice Lateefat Okunnu of the Federal High Court. According to the Chief Magistrate, the court is unbiased and not after anybody, appealing to all invited witnesses to honour the court’s invitation to avoid being arrested.
However, he eventually granted the prayer for a temporary stay of action on the invitation of Prophet T.B Joshua by Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, pending the outcome of a ruling on the matter slated for Monday, 22nd December, 2014.
He further advised that the court should not be taken for granted: “We will not add to the pains of T.B. Joshua because we understand that his church members are the ones who died in the building collapse and at the same time, we will ensure that the rule of law is respected. I will grant your prayer, learned SAN but let it be clear to all that the court will not tolerate any attempt by any individual to disregard it. Nobody is above the law. We will be compelled to prove this if parties to this saga try to prove that they are above the law”.
The witness representing the National Airspace Management Agency, NAMA and Deputy General Manager in charge of Air Traffic Operations, Mr. Rafiq Olubukola, admitted to the court that the aircraft that flew over the building, prior to its collapse, was a military aircraft. However, he claimed the aircraft flew normally and in line with the agency’s rules and regulations. He was not forthcoming with technical details of the altitude, number of passengers and timing of the said flight while being cross-examined by counsel to The SCOAN, Olalekan Ojo.
Furthermore, his statement contradicted the evidence presented to the court through the CCTV footage of the incident. He claimed the aircraft didn’t fly over the collapsed building which was contrary to what appeared in the CCTV footage.
While The SCOAN counsel reminded him that the police in their testimony had said his agency was given a copy of the CCTV footage of the hovering aircraft prior to the collapse, he denied ever seeing such a material, adding that he only watched the footage of the collapse on YouTube and hence could not ascertain anything about the timing of the flight.
Meanwhile, the contractor who handled the construction of the collapsed building, Engineer Akin Fatiregun of Hardrock Engineering Company Limited, appeared in court despite being ill. Contrary to the magistrate’s claim that the Engineer had been evading court summons, Mr. Fatiregun told the court that he had always been present at the court save on three occasions when he travelled out of the country to seek medical attention.
The magistrate who had initially threatened to arrest the contractor soft-pedaled when it became very obvious to him that the contractor was ill. He however granted the contractor’s prayer to appear on Friday, 19 December, 2014. Proceedings resume on Wednesday, 17 December, 2014.
Nosa Osazuwa – present during court proceedings