Law News
Synagogue: Coroner’s inquest resumes February 17

The Lagos coroner, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe, probing the September 12, 2014, Synagogue Church Of All Nations’ building collapse, has further adjourned till February 17, 2015 to continue the inquest.

The decision to further adjourn followed the non-appearance of witnesses and low turnout of lawyers and other interested parties at the resumed sitting of the court on Tuesday.

Komolafe, however, expressed his determination to conclude the inquest within the next two weeks, just as he urged lawyers and interested parties not to deploy delay tactics to further prolong the proceedings.

Tuesday was the first time the court would be sitting this year following its last proceeding on December 23, 2014.

The court was unable to sit on the earlier adjourned date of January 6, 2015 due to the strike embarked upon by the Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria.

Shortly before adjourning on Tuesday, the magistrate said the remaining days in this week would be devoted to the viewing of the CCTV footages in the court’s custody by lawyers for the purposes of cross-examining some of the earlier summoned witnesses.

One of such footages was the one submitted by the Chief Security Officer of SCOAN, Mr. Sunday Okogie, capturing the rescue events from September 12 to September 16, 2014.

Okogie, in his testimony, had pointed out that contrary to their claims, officials of both the National Emergency Management Agency and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, had unrestrained and prompt access to the accident scene.

Showing the footages before the court, Okogie had submitted, “My Lord, on the first day of the incident, as you can see, nobody prevented them from entering into the compound. But as you can see from the video, LASEMA came with only one bus and no heavy duty equipment as they claimed before this court.

“The same thing with NEMA. They came ill-equipped for the job of digging out those who were trapped under the rubbles.”

Okogie further told the court that NEMA and LASEMA officials left the accident scene at about 5:45pm when several victims were still trapped under the rubbles.

The CSO said, “For the first three days, that was how they were operating. They will resume at about 8am and leave in the evening like they were on duty in the office.”

Okogie is to be cross-examined by the parties when the court reconvenes.

The Lagos State Government had inaugurated the coroner’s inquest following the collapse of the SCOAN’s six-storey guest house wherein no fewer than 116 persons died.

The coroner had the mandate to narrow down to the cause of the deaths.

Its inaugural sitting was on October 13, 2014.

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