Senior Pastor of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Prophet T.B Joshua, along with other trustees of the church will today be arraigned before a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja over the collapse of a six-story building on its premises on September 12, 2014, leading to the death of 116 persons.
The trustees will be arraigned before Justice Lawal Akapo, alongside the engineers that constructed the collapsed building. A statement by the Deputy Director, Public Affairs of the Lagos State Ministry of Justice, Bola Akingbade confirmed the scheduled arraignment. It would be recalled that Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court in Lagos had dismissed the fundamental human rights enforcement suits filed by the engineers who constructed the collapsed sixstory building to stop their planned trial.
The engineers – Mr. Oladele Ogundeji and Mr. Akinbela Fatiregun – had filed two separate suits before Justice Buba seeking an order restraining the police from inviting, arresting or prosecuting them over the victims’ death. The Lagos State Government, had set up a Coroner Inquest to unravel what went wrong. In a verdict delivered on August 7, 2015 by Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, the Coroner had indicted the engineers and recommended them for investigation and prosecution for criminal negligence. The engineers had filed the suits following the Coroner’s verdict, which attributed the building collapse to structural defect. The engineers had specifically rejected the Coroner’s verdict, describing it as “unreasonable, one-sided and biased.” But Justice Buba, in his ruling on the defendants’ preliminary objection, held that the engineers “had not made out a case of infringement on their fundamental rights even on the merit of the application,” and dismissed their applications. The judge, who noted that the Coroner Law was an enactment of the Lagos State House of Assembly, which is constitutionally empowered to make laws in the state, said the Federal High Court could not dabble into the affairs of the state and “start dishing out injunctive orders.” On the prayer by the engineers asking for an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Lagos State Attorney-General or any officer under his authority from initiating or commencing criminal proceedings against them based on the verdict of the Coroner, Justice Buba held that such request was ungrantable in the circumstance of the case under review.
The judge added: “The Coroner’s inquest is not a court of law; it does not find anybody guilty, it only recommends. The Federal High Court cannot tamper with the Coroner Law, which is a Constitutional enactment of the Lagos State House of Assembly.” Shortly after the verdict, the State Government had assured that the affected persons would be swiftly charge to court. The assurance was contained in a statement issued by the Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice in the State, Mr. Adeniji Kazeem.