An Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP), Mr. Alaba Yahaya Haruna, told the Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere on Friday that one of his patrol teams observed an aircraft flying over Synagogue Church of All Nation’s building just before it collapsed on September 12, 2014, killing 116 people.
Haruna testified before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo as a defence witness in the trial of the Registered Trustees of the church and four others.
The church – with Haruna’s testimony – opened its defence to a one count charge of building without approval brought against it by the Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), following the dismissal of its no-case submission on March 8, 2016.
The other defendants are the two engineers who built the building, Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, and their companies, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited.
Aside Synagogue’s one count charge, the other defendants are facing 110- count charge of involuntary manslaughter.
Haruna, Area Commander of the Eastern Ports Command, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was the Divisional Police Officer of the Ikotun Egbe Police Station, Lagos, at the time of the incident.
Led in examination-in-chief by Synagogue’s Trustees counsel, Mr. Oluseye Diyan, the witness relived the incident.
Haruna said: “On that fateful day on September 12, 2014 at about 12:30 hours, there was a radio communication from the police control room at Ikeja that they were receiving calls from the public about an aircraft flying at low altitude over the church. I was directed by the Area Command to confirm the incident and monitor the aircraft’s activities.
“I wanted to go out and direct my men to watch out for the aircraft when I received another report of an airplane flying at a very low altitude. I went outside but I couldn’t see it, by that time it had gone. I received a call later from Inspector Lucky Ugbaja, stationed at the church, that one of the church’s buildings had collapsed.”
According to him, the radio room had earlier radioed the Police Airport Command to confirm whether it was carrying out any activity in the Synagogu