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The Lagos State Government has given clearance for the repatriation of 54 South Africans corpses, which are part of the 116 victims that died in the Synagogue Church of All Nations building collapse on 12 September.
Governor Babatunde Fashola gave the approval during a meeting with delegates of the South African government on Wednesday, 12 November, where he said that his government had no reason to delay the handing over of the bodies in line with the South African culture and traditions.
He said, “We regret that this happened. Unfortunately, I also managed such an issue during the Dana plane crash and I understand the anxiety of families who want closure and the religious undertone as well. Our responsibility is to ensure that families get closure. And those cultures exist here. I know that this is an issue that has attracted global attention.
“We cannot at this time get the process wrong because if we release a body, we want to ensure that each family takes the body of their relative. It will be unpardonable for us to make mistakes.”
“And the choice of South Africa for the test was a special decision to make the process easier for South Africans who bore the bigger brunt of the tragedy. So, since the relatives were in South Africa, it was easier to use a laboratory in the country, where we could easily take samples from the deceased’s families for the test. It was meant to further demonstrate what our intentions were.”
“We have no reason to deny you the right to take those 54 bodies, you have my word, you can take them whenever you are ready to do so. It is left for you to decide whether to take them in batches or wait until we conclude the exercise. But if you are ready, my team will ensure that you take them without any delay.”
Fashola also disclosed that the coroner’s inquest was ongoing, to investigate the disaster, stressing that the inquest was not meant to prosecute anyone.