Law News
Court rules on T.B. Joshua’s objection to coroner’s inquest

A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has slated March 3, 2015 to rule on an application objecting to the coroner’s inquest into the death of the victims of the September 12, 2014 Synagogue building collapse.

The application was filed before Justice Lateefa Okunnu by the Founder, Synagogue Church Of All Nations, Prophet T.B. Joshua.

The prophet had asked Okunnu to determine whether the witness summons served on him to appear before the coroner did not constitute an infringement on his right to fair hearing.

He also contended that the Lagos coroner, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe, had been extending the inquest into areas outside his statutory limit.

Okunnu, on Friday, fixed the ruling date after hearing the reply on point of law filed by Joshua’s lawyer, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), in response to the submission by Lagos State Government asking Okunnu to dismiss the prophet’s application.

Canvassing his argument in court, Fagbemi insisted that the coroner’s job stopped at the determination of what killed the victims of the building collapse.

He maintained that the coroner had no legal backing to inquire into the possible cause of the building collapse, wherein the about 116 victims perished.

He urged Okunnu to stop the coroner’s inquest from becoming “a floodgate for all manners of incursion under the guise of investigation.”

“My Lord, I submit respectfully sir that even in the wider interpretation of the words ‘how’ and ‘manner’, none of those words can accommodate the situation here to allow the coroner to go beyond mere investigation as to the cause of death,” Fagbemi submitted.

He, therefore, urged the court to restrain the coroner from further acting in excess of his jurisdiction, in addition to an order declaring null and void such portion of the coroner’s inquest already conducted in excess of jurisdiction.

But the Lagos state counsel, Karmardeen Bakare, had argued that the coroner’s job was not only to find the cause of death but also had the latitude to investigate issues pertaining to building approval, soil testing and materials used in the construction of the collapsed building.

“In doing this, he has all the powers of a magistrate to summon and compel the attendance of witnesses, including medical examiners, and require them to give evidence, produce documents or present other relevant materials,” Kamardeen added.

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