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Lagos sets to prosecute Synagogue contractor

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Barely one year after the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, building collapsed in Ikotun area of Lagos state killing scores of worshippers and workers in the process, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, Thursday, said his administration would enforce the verdict of the Coroner’s inquest in consonance with the rule of law.

It will be recalled that the building which mysteriously collapsed on September 12, 2014, amidst controversy has continued to generate public interest.

Ambode, in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Habib Aruna, said his government would uphold and enforce the sanctity of the law in the state, just as he urged residents of the state to also respect the rule of Law.

“His Excellency hereby reiterates his government’s commitment to uphold and enforce the sanctity of the law in the state and calls on all Lagos resident to respect the rule of law”, the statement read.

Ambode explained that the  step became necessary as Coroner’s verdict of 7th July, 2015 made a number of recommendations which the state government would act upon accordingly.

The governor said that one of the provisions of the Coroner Law 2007 is the provision that empowers a Coroner to commence an inquest to find out the cause and manner of death which occur in an unusual manner.

“Consequent upon the collapse at the premises of Synagogue Church building, the state government applied that a coroner’s inquest be commenced into the cause of the tragic deaths.

“The state government will cause the prosecution of the contractor, Engineer Akinbela Fatiregun of Hardrock Engineering Company Limited and Structural Engineer, Oladele Ogundeji who constructed and supervised the collapsed building respectively at the Synagogue Church of All Nations for professional negligence,” the governor affirmed.

Ambode also said the state government would prosecute the SCOAN for neglecting to obtain building approval before commencing the building, contrary to the provisions of the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2010.

The governor, however, appealed to residents of the state to always allow emergency responders perform their duties of emergency as they are trained for this purpose.

Ambode, therefore, urged land owners within the state who intend to embark on construction to employ the services of qualified and competent engineers who must obtain building permit before construction.

It will be recalled that the incident led to a diplomatic row between Nigeria and South Africa governments.

The consultant engineer, Ogundeji, who supervised the construction, had during one of the trials before Lagos coroner, Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, said that the September 12, 2014 building collapse was not caused by structural defects.

However, the court admitted the amended architectural and structural designs of the building as exhibit.

Led in evidence by Synagogue’s counsel, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, the consultant told the court that he supervised Hardrock Construction and Engineering Limited, the firm which handled the project.

Ogundeji said that a soil test was conducted by a geo-technical engineer and that his report informed the design used for the building.

The building, according to him, was constructed in two phases beginning from July 2008 and was completed in September 2013.

“I will not agree that the collapse was caused by structural defect. If it was a structural defect, the collapse will be gradual. There will be cracks visible even to a layman.

“When I watched the CCTV footage, everything came down within four seconds. Speaking sincerely, I believe that it must have been induced scientifically, but I don’t know the means,” he added.

The witness said officials of the Lagos State Material Testing Agency came to the site and took samples of the materials for laboratory test after the incident.

He said the report released by the agency revealed that all concrete, reinforcement and columns of the building passed the agency structural integrity test.

Ogundeji, however, disagreed with the agency’s recommendation that a raft foundation should have been erected for the structure.

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APPLY: WTO opens entry for 2022 young professionals programme

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The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has opened applications for its 2022 Young Professional Programme (YPP).
The programme provides opportunity for young professionals to enhance their knowledge of the organisation and international trade issues.

In 2021, 14 professionals out of 2,400 candidates were selected for the programme from Bangladesh, Belize, Dominican Republic, Eswatini, Guatemala, Georgia, Indonesia, Malawi, Mauritania, Namibia, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Chinese Taipei and Thailand.

WTO said “The YPP is a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience which can help open the door for future professional opportunities in the field of multilateral diplomacy and global trade.

“The YPP selection gives preference to young professionals from developing and least-developed countries that are members of the WTO and whose nationals are currently under-represented or not represented in the organization’s Secretariat.

“The programme is part of the Secretariat’s overall goal to increase its diversity to better reflect the make-up of its membership.”

To be eligible, applicants must be of age 32 as of January 1, 2022, and selected candidates will work at the WTO secretariat for one year, starting from the beginning of next year.

The areas of work at the programme includes accessions, agriculture, dispute settlement, intellectual property rights, market access, media and external relations, WTO rules, trade and development, trade and environment, trade in services and investment, trade facilitation, trade policy analysis and trade-related technical assistance.

WTO said candidates must have advanced university degree in law, economics, or other international trade-related subjects relevant to WTO work; must possess relevant expertise or continued academic study in a field of interest to the work of the WTO.

Equally, candidates must similarly have a minimum of two years relevant work experience.

The trade organisation further said selected candidates will be paid $3821.66 (N1,454,141.63 million) monthly and applications can be accessed on the WTO e-Recruitment website and should be completed no later than 29 April 2021.

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Buhari receives briefing from Osinbajo

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Vice President Yemi Osinbajo on Monday briefed President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

The President had last Thursday returned to the country after a16-day medical trip to London, United Kingdom.

He left Nigeria on Tuesday, March 30, briefly after a security meeting with defense and intelligence chiefs as well as other security sector managers.

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Gunmen attack Imo police station, kidnap officer

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A police officer has been abducted in an attack on Mbieri Divisional Police Headquarters in Mbaitoli Local Government Area of Imo state on Thursday morning.

This comes three days after the state Police Command headquarters and Owerri Correctional Center were attacked while 1,884 inmates released.

A resident of Mbieri said the gunmen released the suspects in custody.

However, the policemen on duty were said to have engaged the attackers in a gun duel but they were reportedly overpowered by the gunmen who had sophisticated weapons.

A community leader, Nokey Ebikam, told newsmen that the police divisional headquarters was not burnt but only freed the suspects in detention after vandalizing it.

Police Public Relations Officer in the state, Orlando Ikeokwu, confirmed the attack on the police station but did not go into details.

It was gathered that aside the officer who was abducted, two others sustained injuries in the incident which is the second major attack on a police station since an armed gang invaded the state police headquarters on Monday.

The Police authorities have blamed the attacks on the outlawed Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB) but the group has distanced itself from the attacks.

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