Nigeria News

The coroner inquest into the collapsed building at the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, took off yesterday with the Coroner Judge, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe requesting the South Africa government to allow families of the deceased to donate blood for DNA test towards identifying the victims, also some disables who claimed to have benefited from the goodwill of the church founder, Pastor T. B. Joshua flooded the court with placard asking who owns the private jet that flew close to the building?

 TB Joshua-Synagogue Church

Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe said he will facilitate early release of their corpses for burial after identification.

Also, the Coroner Judge, disclosed that the court was not constituted to witchhunt, but to find the cause of the building collapse and the deaths as well as making necessary recommendations to prevent future occurrence in line with the state coroner law.

Magistrate appeals

In his appeal, Magistrate Komolafe explained that the DNA examination was a major aspect of the inquest, noting that it would be difficult for the pathologists to carry out their work if the deceased relatives were not available to identify their deceased relations.

Majority of the victims recovered from the debris of the building collapse were South Africans.

Komolafe said: “I sympathize with the families of the victims as well as South Africa government, but I want to seize this opportunity to state the importance of the DNA to this inquest.

“Relatives of victims should donate blood to enable the pathologists identify the bodies. The medical team and pathologists are working because the court has directed them to carry out the activities and report back.

“It is important for the South African embassy to ensure that relatives of the victims come forward for the pathologist to get the needed samples to compare with the bodies.

“Those corpses have to be properly identified and when that is done and the process completed, the bodies will be released to the South African government and they can take them home if they so wish.

“We have to work together. We should not allow anything to cause misunderstanding between Nigeria and South Africa because we are one, at least we are blacks. Please, let us work together to make this process a success.”

Church assures on support

While the church represented by Prince Lateef Komolafe also promised an absolute support to the Coroner, the court urged necessary parties in the proceedings to cooperate with the court so as to come out with adequate information and recommendations.

Considering the procedure to be adopted to enhance smooth and speedy result, Magistrate Komolafe agreed with counsels representing the parties by allowing them to file their testimonies through affidavit deposition as well as allowing oral evidence from witnesses.

He stated that the court was not going to be rigid in the application of the rules of evidence and other court rules except where it becomes extremely necessary.

However, he warned that he will not spare any witness who disregard a court summon by compelling his appearance.

Counsel to the church, Prince Lateef Fagbemi, SAN, and the state represented by Mr. Gbolahan Adeniran and the State Police Command, represented by Mr. Chukwu Agwu had had a tough time agreeing on when to visit the scene of the incident.

Fagbemi had requested  the court to grant his client  more time to enable them upload necessary documents, evidences at the court registryas well as arranged their witnesses, who he said will include some foreigners .

While the Officer in Charge of Legal Matters, Lagos State Police Command, Agwu, aligned himself with the request of Fagbemi, the state Counsel opposed the request on the ground that the church supposed to have gathered its witnesses considering when the time when the incident happened.

The police lawyer submitted that he got the summon to appear before the court as at close of business last Friday, arguing he would need time to get documents ready and prepare some deputy commissioners of police for the inquest.

The arguments compelled the court to stand down the case for 15minutes to enable counsels agreeing on a date for the next sitting of the court and the time to visit the locus (site of incident).

Moment after the resumption, the court finally fixed Thursday for visit to the “locus”(site of the collapsed building).

The Coroner Judge, equally appealed to all those who failed to appear at the inaugural sitting to appear before the court at the next adjournment.

He listed them to include the National Emergency Management Authority(NEMA), Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps(NSCDC), Office of the Lagos State Surveyor General and Lagos State Emergency Management Authority(LASEMA) among others.

He directed all counsels to upload all the documents and evidences they intend to file and for responses to be made before the next adjourned date, Thursday October 16,  when the court will visit the church while fixed October 24 to begin the proceeding proper.

Beside the proceedings, some disables who claimed to have benefited from the goodwill of the church founder, Pastor T. B. Joshua flooded the court with placard asking for justice to be done in the case.

Some of them who came on wheel chairs, were carrying placards  with various inscriptions such as: “Who is the owner of the private jet that flew close to the building; CCTV footage can’t tell lies. Please investigate; Tell us the truth: Structural defect or a controlled blast;

“Why targeting foreigners; It is control demolition, not structural failure; Tell us the truth, what collapsed the building; Awareness matters, don’t give way to terrorists.”

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