A lead witness in the ongoing trial involving The Synagogue Church of all Nation (SCOAN) and the Lagos State Government over the former’s collapsed building has said that what the church did was not against known practice of physical development in the state.
Mr. Adebisi Adedire, now chairman, Nigeria Institute of Town Planners (NITP), Lagos Chapter, who is also a consultant to Lagos state Government on physical planning matter, told the court that a builder can regularize its structure after building as the Law requires in Lagos State.
He made the statement last week at the resumed hearing of the suit instituted by the Lagos State Government against the church.
While he was being cross-examined by the lawyers from the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, the town planner explained all the various procedure to be followed before a building is erected in the State, and in all its explanation the Church has complied in respect of the building, which collapsed Four years ago.
According to Adebisi any builder in Lagos state must have a building permit including other documents like survey certificate, certificate of occupancy, as well as development proposal.
He told the court that planning permit process gave automatic directives to a builder to develop a site as required by Law in the State.
The witness enlightened the court that the processes are done in Lagos state planning office, which would be followed by paying assessment fee.
He explained further that pre-screening is one of the first processes to undergo before taking physical possession of a land.
Regularization according to him is a form of enforcement from the state government. In essence it is a means where what is built as illegal now became legal after going through the process of regularization.
He noted that many buildings in Lagos state were built without following the due process.
Backing his claim, he cited a state government’s advertorial publication in March 2018 in national dailies calling for owners of buildings in the State who are yet to regularize to come forward and do so within six months without payment of any fee.
During the proceeding, counsels to the Synagogue Church adopted copies of the said publication as a relevant material to be used in the case and after a counter move against admittance of the court, the court, however, ruled in the favour of the church and admitted the document, which was presented by the church’s counsel, Olamilekan Ojo (SAN).
The building, built within the Church premises collapsed in 2014 after an alleged strange aircraft flew over the building. The matter has been adjourned to 6th and 7th December 2018.
By Emmanuel Badejo