The Lagos State Government has said it will on Monday (today) arraign the trustees of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations and the two engineers who built the church’s collapsed six-storey guest house that killed 116 persons last year.
The Lagos State Ministry of Justice said in a statement on Sunday that the trustees and the engineers would be arraigned before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of a Lagos State High Court.
It noted that the founder of SCOAN, Prophet T.B. Joshua is one of the church’s trustees.
The SCOAN and the two structural engineers, Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, had on July 8, 2015 been indicted by a Lagos State coroner, Mr. Oyetade Komolafe, who conducted an inquest into the death of the victims of the September 12, 2014 accident.
Komolafe had identified structural defect as the cause of the building collapse, as opposed to the church’s claim that the building was sabotaged.
The coroner had subsequently recommended that the engineers should be prosecuted for criminal negligence while the church should be investigated and prosecuted for building without possessing necessary permit.
The state noted in its statement that the move to finally arraign the SCOAN trustees and the engineers followed the dismissal of a fundamental rights enforcement suit filed by the engineers before Justice Ibrahim Buba of a Federal High Court in Lagos.
Having rejected the coroner’s verdict, the engineers, through their lawyer, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, had gone before the Federal High Court seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the Lagos State Attorney General or anyone acting under his authority from initiating or commencing criminal proceedings against them on the basis of the findings and recommendations of the coroner.
They also sought a declaration that the Lagos State Commissioner of Police “lacks the power to act on the coroner’s verdict to investigate or prosecute them.”
But Buba, in a ruling on November 9, 2015, dismissed the engineers’ suits, saying they failed to establish that their fundamental human rights were being threatened or had been violated.
The September 12, 2014 tragedy claimed the lives of 85 South Africans, 22 Nigerians, two Beninoise, one Togolese and six unidentified persons.
Sixty of the victims were males while 56 were females.