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SYNAGOGUE DEATH TOLL HITS 44 – 130 PERSONS RESCUED

The National Emergency Management Agency says the death toll from the collapsed building of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, in Ikotun has been put at 44, while 130 persons have been rescued.

Officials of the National Emergency Management Agency who have continued the rescue operations at the collapsed building of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Ikotun, Lagos, yesterday announced that the death toll had hit 44, while 130 persons had been rescued.

The incident, which occurred on Friday afternoon at 12.54 pm, saw the five-storey building which was under construction collapse, burying hundreds of people in the rubble.

Speaking on the casualties, the South-west spokesperson of NEMA, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, said as at last night, 44 persons were declared dead while 130 had been rescued.

He did not however state if some of the 44 dead persons had died at hospitals where they were being treated.

He said most of the people rescued were women, accounting for 80 per cent of the total number of victims, including children between the ages of four and eight who had since been reunited with their families.

Meanwhile, the church has maintained its stance that the collapse was targeted, at its spiritual head, T.B Joshua who, insisted yesterday that the collapse was no natural feat.

Joshua had told THISDAY at the weekend that the collapse had occurred after a “strange aircraft” hovered over the affected building four times at varying intervals.

However, during the service held at the church yesterday, Joshua said: “I know this is not the right time to talk but I will just say a little because I don’t want to interfere with the job of security personnel.

“I have been residing in this area for 30 years and we have never witnessed an incident of this nature. This is to tell you we have a stable terrain in this area. I have been in this community for the past 30 years and no building has collapsed.

“As a minister of the gospel, our first priority is to save lives. There is no compromise in what we do at all. I am going to leave this for you to judge.”

He went on to warn that if unchecked and the people are left uneducated and un-alerted, a similar incident would occur in the country, adding that “divine judgment would befall the perpetrators of the attack”.

To buttress his claim, he went on to read to the church a text message purportedly sent by a Boko Haram member who claimed he came to bomb the church but couldn’t and travelled back to Jos with the bomb.

He also paid tribute to those who lost their lives in the collapse, describing them as martyrs who knew the God they were serving.

It however could not be confirmed what aircraft had allegedly hovered over the building, neither was it yet clear if the said aircraft dropped any arsenal that caused the collapse of the building.

Yet Joshua insisted yesterday that he was the main target of the attack, an incident the self-acclaimed clairvoyant did not foresee. But when contacted, the Lagos State Police Command Public Relations Officer, DSP Ngozi Braide, said there was nothing to suggest that the collapse of the building was a Boko Haram attack.

She said: “You can’t conclude that because an aircraft flew over the building that it was Boko Haram that attacked the church building.

“As of now, we have sent the video clips for analysis and until then, we can’t determine if it was an attack or not. The result of the analysis would determine the outcome of our investigations.

“There are lots of issues at stake and we are studying the evidence they gave us. This is because we are receiving conflicting reports from NEMA and the church, so we have commenced investigations.

“But as at now, there is nothing to suggest it was a Boko Haram attack until our investigations are over.”

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