The Lagos State Government on Thursday urged the State High Court in Ikeja to dismiss with substantial cost a suit filed by the Registered Trustees of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) challenging the verdict of Coroner Inquest into the collapse of a six-storey building within the church premises on September 12, 2014 which led to the death of 116 persons.
The verdict of the Coroner presided over by Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe was delivered on July 8, 2015, and same indicted the church and its engineers for criminal negligence and recommended them for prosecution.
The State Government had thereafter filed 111 counts criminal charge against the Trustees of the church, the two engineers and two companies before Justice Lawal Akapo also of the Ikeja High Court.
However, in their fresh action filed before Justice Kazeem Alogba, the Trustees of the church had sought for an order stopping their proposed arraignment and an order quashing the decision of the Coroner.
Magistrate Komolafe had held that the building that killed the victims was built without approval, adding that its collapse was due to structural defects.
But the church and its engineers – Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun – rejected the verdict, describing it as unreasonable and one-sided.
At the resumed hearing of the case before Justice Alogba on Thursday, lawyer to the Trustees, Mr. E.L Akpofure (SAN) said Magistrate Komolafe erred in law to have sat as Coroner Court in Alimosho District, which he argued was non-existent.
In response, Lagos State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem, said the issue of wrong heading of the nomenclature of the Coroner was a mere irregularity which lacked the vibe to render the proceedings of the Coroner invalid.
While describing it as a mere technical point, Kazeem said such argument was not directed at substantial justice, and as such, the court should discountenance it.
The Attorney General faulted the verifying affidavit in support of the suit deposed to by one Sunday Okoroji, an Assistant to Prophet TB Joshua, saying the deponent lacked the power to replace the Trustees of the church, who are legally empowered to do so.
Justice Alogba, in a brief bench ruling, said that he would give the matter the urgency it deserved being a matter of public importance.
He, thereafter, fixed February 19, 2016 for judgment.
(Lukman Olabiyi, SUN NEWS ONLINE)