Church worshippers killed while mounting flag

Four members of the El-Adonai Evangelical Ministry (Aladura), were electrocuted on Sunday after a high tension cable snapped on Jibowu Street, in the Abule Egba area of Lagos State.

It was gathered that the church was preparing for its thanksgiving service when the incident happened around 7am.

It was learnt that the victims wanted to change the church’s flag when the pole holding the flag touched the high tension cable and snapped.

Six persons were involved in the incident, but two were resuscitated, while the other four died.

A witness, who identified himself simply as Jamiu, said the deceased were two adults and two children.

He said, “We were inside the house when the incident happened around 7am. We thought it was gas that started the fire at first because the church was preparing for its thanksgiving.

“But when we came out, we saw that the church’s pole touched the high tension wire and it snapped and electrocuted the people under it. Four of them died; two adults and two children. They were trying to change the flag on the pole because the one there was torn.”

Another witness, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the police prevented the youth of the community from burning the church after the pastor fled.

He said, “One of the people living with the pastor called Ayo climbed the iron pole. But as he was climbing it, the pole touched the high tension wire and it snapped, causing a fire. It electrocuted the boy and three others holding the pole for him.

“The incident caused tension in the area and because the pastor of the church ran away immediately it happened, the youth wanted to burn down the church and all the buildings inside. If not for the arrival of the police, the situation would have worsened.”

The atmosphere of the area when our correspondent visited on Sunday was gloomy, as people could be seen gathering in small numbers and discussing the tragedy.

The mother of 14-year-old Ayomide, who was one of the victims, Modinat Ogundele, blamed herself for not delaying him before he went to church that morning.

She said, “We slept together till this morning and when he woke up, he said he was going to clean the church around 7am.

“Just a few minutes after he left the house, the incident happened. I was preparing for church when someone said they were fighting in the area and I just casually said I could not go and watch any fight on a Sunday morning, not knowing it was fire that was burning.

“But when I got there, I saw that my son had died. I can’t even comprehend it; the child that we slept in the house together and this was not the first time he would be going to the church. He didn’t do as if he was going to die today; he was hale and hearty. They wanted to do thanksgiving in the church and my son was someone that whenever he was going to church, there was nothing you would tell him that would make him stay at home or hear you again.

“If I had known that he would die today, I would have given him more food yesterday night when he said he was not filled. If I had known, I would have cooked for him this morning, maybe if he was eating, he would not have gone to church at that time. I learnt that he got electrocuted when he wanted to help his friend who was already electrocuted.”

The Lagos State Fire Service, while confirming the incident in a statement on Sunday, said the Ikeja Electric was contacted to put off power supply to avoid more casualties.

The statement read in part, “The incident, which was reported at 7.34am on Sunday on El-Adonai Evangelical Ministry, 18 Jibowu Road, off Agbe Road, U-turn Bus Stop, Abule Egba, Lagos, involved a high tension connecting the C & S church’s flag pole, leading to the electrical shock of about six male adults.

“The Ikeja Electric Distribution Company was informed and consequently de-energised power distribution to the environment.”

It was learnt that the matter was reported at the Oko-Oba Police Station.

The state Police Public Relations Officer, Ajisebutu Adekunle, who confirmed the incident, said the four bodies were deposited at the Yaba Military Hospital morgue for autopsies.

“Although it was an accident, the state Commissioner of Police, Hakeem Odumosu, has directed that a thorough investigation should be carried out,” he added.

However, a source told newsmen that three of the deceased had been buried, while the remaining body was deposited at a mortuary in Yaba.

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