Law News
Inquest: Court rules on Joshua’s objection March 6

A Lagos State High Court in Ikeja has further adjourned ruling till March 6, 2015 in an objection filed against the coroner’s inquest into the death of about 116 persons who perished in the September 12, 2014 Synagogue building collapse.

The Founder, Synagogue Church Of All Nations, Prophet T.B. Joshua, has asked Justice Lateefa Okunnu to review the proceedings of the coroner’s inquest since its inaugural sitting on October 13, 2014.

He prayed the court to determine whether or not the witness summons served on him to appear before the coroner to testify was not a breach of his right to fair hearing when no material fact against him had been placed before the court.

He also wanted the court to determine whether the coroner had not been extending the inquest into areas beyond his statutory scope.

According to Joshua’s lawyer, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), the duty of the coroner stopped at determining the cause of death of the victims.

Fagbemi maintained that the coroner had no legal authority to inquire into the cause of the building collapse.

Though Okunnu had earlier adjourned till Tuesday to rule on Joshua’s application, the judge, however, informed the parties at the resumed proceeding that she needed to be addressed on the question of whether or not the coroner was a juristic entity that could be sued.

While reserving her ruling till March 6, 2015, Okunnu directed the parties to canvass their arguments so as to assist her in her ruling.

The matter was filed in December 2014 but had lingered as a result of various applications by Joshua, a development that angered Okunnu on February 17 when the judge slammed a N25, 000 cost on the SCOAN founder.

Meanwhile, the Chief Security Officer of SCOAN, Mr. Sunday Okogie, maintained his stance that officials of the Nigeria Emergency Management Agency and the Lagos State Emergency Management Authority had unrestricted and timely access to the scene of the collapsed building during the rescue operations.

Okogie, who re-appeared before the coroner on Tuesday for cross-examination, said that the officials left the accident scene around 5pm everyday and resumed after 8am, even when they knew that persons were still trapped under the rubbles.

He told the coroner that only the first two floors of the collapsed building were occupied prior to the accident.   

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