The West African Civil Rights Coalition (WACROC), a body comprising of twelve West African Nations which claims to ‘promote justice, peace and human rights’ in the region, stated its concern at the outcome of the inquest which ruled the collapse was ‘due to structural defects’.
According to WACROC, their concern is “driven by the terse socio-political situation in most of the West African countries, most especially as it rela tes to faith-induced violence,” adding that terrorism is one of the major challenge faced by ECOWAS countries.
Noting an increase in sophistication “in the mode of attacks by the extremist groups since several months ago when Boko Haram christened itself the Islamic State of West Africa,” the group posited that The SCOAN’s immense popularity and religious draw makes it a ‘perfect target’ for a terrorist attack.
“The collapsed church building in Lagos, to us, looks too extraordinary,” the group stated. “Can a building collapse without prior signals on its design and structure? Can a building collapse without prior cracks on the walls? Can a building collapse on a single space as if in a controlled demolition?”
The statement further noted that the government did not take seriously the claim made by The SCOAN in March 2014 where an alleged Boko Haram member confessed the groups thwarted plan to bomb the church, nor did it consider the CCTV video posted by The SCOAN showing a plane encircling the building before its collapse .
“The Lagos State government should probe the possible link between the attack and the contract said to have been signed between the Nigerian Federal Government under President Goodluck Jonathan and a private South African company,” WACROC continued. “This may have been accountable for the fact that over 70% of the casualties were South Africans.”
It concluded by advising that all bias and religious sentiment be avoided in ensuring justice is done. “The Lagos State government, the Federal Government of Nigeria and West African governments should take critical and well informed steps and should not allow institutional opinions to be prejudiced by the well known malaise and rivalry that exist in Nigerian Christendom which often reflect the acts of government institutions and the idiosyncrasies of individuals in government.”
The O’odua Nationalist Coalition (ONAC), a body comprising over 35 pan-Yoruba groups, released a statement with similar sentiments. “An end has NOT come to the serious issues raised by the church that the building’s collapse was orchestrated by a third, evil party,” the influential coalition of Yoruba groups stated. “It is in the interest of the people of the South West to get to the root of this matter for the wellbeing and peace of our homeland.”
According to ONAC, “The facts raised through the evidence presented before the court including the way and manner the building fell in one fell swoop, which indicated ‘controlled demolition’, continue to linger.”
They further questioned the judgement of Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, suspecting the influence of compromise. “We are aware that The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations is and has been a victim of faith-based bias given the unhealthy rivalry among Christians in Nigeria,” the statement continued. “We only hope this will not affect the judgment of individuals and the relevant authorities.
The group decried that fact that “there were no attempts to seek the assistance of international police or any relevant international agency in the probe of the collapsed building”, giving credence to insinuations of a government ‘cover-up’. “ONAC fears a clear attempt to demonize the whole episode without a clear-cut evidence based approach, for reasons best known to the forces behind the veil,” the statement went on.
The coalition concluded by stating that The SCOAN should be lauded for its positive impact in rebranding Nigeria’s image internationally and attracting religious tourists to Lagos.
“In many countries all over the world, the drug and scam images of Nigeria disappear at the mention of the name Synagogue, Church Of All Nations. This is a monument that the Yoruba nation and Nigeria will destroy to our own eternal peril.”
The Pan-Yoruba coalition, in its closing remarks, called for Lagos State governor Akinwunmi Ambode to take urgent actions about “the decrepit state of the road from Isolo to Ikotun where the church is situated,” citing the negative impression of Nigeria it gives to the multitudes of foreigners who travel it on their journey to and from the church.
Both statements were published in national Nigerian newspapers.
Ihechukwu Njoku – freelance Nigerian journalist…