Joshua: Same old story …. NATION

JOSHUA

Repetition is a powerful weapon in the hands of a spin doctor, and a body known as the Nigerian Human Rights Community (NHRC) is using it for the purpose of laundering the image of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in Ikotun, Lagos. Of course, the effort to show that the church is not as black as it has been painted is also an effort to paint its leader, Prophet Temitope Joshua, as an innocent player in the tragic drama in the church’s compound in September last year. According to official figures, 80 South Africans, 22 Nigerians, two Beninoise and two Togolese died following a building collapse at the church.

Based on a Coroner’s inquest into the disaster, the Lagos State government indicated that it would take legal action against the church and certain individuals. Specifically, a statement by Governor Akinwunmi Ambode’s spokesman, Habib Haruna, said the government “would prosecute the contractor, Akinbela Fatiregun, of Hardrock Engineering Company Limited, and Structural Engineer, Oladele Ogundeji, who built and supervised the collapsed building, for professional negligence.”

In addition, the government said it would prosecute the church for failing to obtain a building approval, contrary to the Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law 2010. Reports said the collapsed building was originally a three-storey structure, which was being raised to accommodate three additional floors.

Nothing about the position of the state government is mystifying. But NHRC, self-described as “a coalition of 135 civil society groups spread across Nigeria”, introduced mystification when it said in a statement: “We use this medium to call on the United Nations (UN Human Rights Commission) to compel the Nigerian government to ensure full investigation into the matter so as to establish what was the cause of the collapsed building beyond the claims that the building fell on its own.”

Carrying the confusion further, NHRC said it “believes that there are new evidences that link the collapse of the building to terrorism”. According to the body, “Islamic extremists may have attacked the building due to Nigeria’ s war against Boko Haram, which found a new wave of support from South Africa.”

It is curious that NHRC repeated the same old story that Joshua told a disbelieving public when the tragedy happened. At the time, Joshua claimed that a “strange aircraft” flew over the church a number of times before the guest house collapsed. He also mentioned that an email he received showed that his church was targeted for bombing by the Islamist guerilla force Boko Haram. Joshua seemed fixated on the idea that the building must have collapsed as a result of an outside machination by those who do not wish him and his church well.

It is clear enough that Joshua’s presentation and the NHRC’s repetition cannot invalidate the points that support culpability, namely, identified professional negligence and failure to act in accordance with regulations. In this case, repetition has served no constructive purpose. The repetition of this particular angle sounds like a fictional construction; it is farcical.JOSHUA