Friday, July 24

South Africa’s ANC backs Ambode on plan to prosecute Synagogue

The leadership of South Africa's ruling party, the Africa National Congress, has commended Lagos State Government's decision to implement the coroner's verdict on the Synagogue Church Of All Nations building, which collapse in Lagos on September 12, 2014.

Leaders of the ANC commended the government when they visited the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, on Friday.

Lagos Coroner, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe, on July 7 recommended the investigation and prosecution of the two structural engineers, who built the collapsed six-storey building belonging to the church which killed 116 persons, mostly South Africans.

While Komolafe recommended the structural engineers, Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, for prosecution for criminal negligence, the coroner equally indicted SCOAN of building without "possessing necessary permits," asking that same to be investigated and prosecuted.

A statement by the Chief Press Secretary to the Lagos State Governor, Mr. Habib Aruna, on Friday quoted the ANC Treasurer-General, Dr. Zwelini Mkhize, as expressing appreciation to the state government for its effort at ensuring that the South African nationals, involved in the tragedy, were successfully repatriated to the country for burial.

Mkhize said, "We do appreciate this relationship. We must say that we are very pleased to learn of your decision in terms of the Synagogue disaster in Lagos last year.
"Certainly, while we all appreciate the assistance that you made to ensure that all of the victims were repatriated back to South Africa, we would continue to support whatever work is being done on your side."
Ambode had on July 16 said he would enforce the verdict of the coroner's inquest, stressing that his government would uphold and enforce the sanctity of the law in the state, while urging residents of the state to also respect the rule of law.

He said, "The coroner's verdict of July 7, 2015, made a number of recommendations which the state government would act upon accordingly.

"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."
Mkhize said the crux of the visit was to seek ways to strengthen bi-lateral trade between South Africa and Nigeria.

He said the trade level between both countries was currently on a high, adding that both countries stood to benefit from each other in terms of trade and investments.

Ambode, in his response, reiterated his commitment to boosting trade relations with South Africa, describing the visit as "a brotherhood meeting".

He listed the areas of cooperation to include the strengthening of security towards building a safer Lagos, which would not only safeguard existing investments in Lagos, but would attract new businesses into the state.
"We have established the Office of Overseas Affairs and Investment, so that we can strengthen bi-lateral relationship. We need more investors to come into Lagos so that we can create employment and grow our GDP.

"Whatever it is you think we can do to increase investors from South Africa, we are ready to talk. We hope you would also create the same platform for businessmen from Nigeria, who do business in South Africa," the governor added.

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