SCOAN To Appear In Court Over Building Collapse That Caused Death of 116 Persons
Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), is to appear by May 10 in court to explain its role in a building collapse that killed 116 persons on September 12, 2014.
Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of A Lagos High Court sitting in Igbosere today fixed the date following the absence of Synagogue Trustee’s first witness, a police officer.
The church was scheduled to open its defence to a one count charge of building without approval following the dismissal of its no-case submission on March 8, 2016.
But its counsel, Prince Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), told the judge that the witness, who was not named, was unavailable, despite being served a subpoena commanding him to appear in court.
Fagbemi persuaded the judge that it was necessary to call that witness first, because he, or she, would “lay the groundwork.
“We are to open our defence. We prepared a subpoena that was served. But the witness is not around because of distance. The first witness was transferred to Port-Harcourt. He used to be at Ikotun Egbe. We are bogged down by this bureaucratic bottleneck. The witness is necessary to lay the groundwork. In the circumstances, we cannot proceed,” Fagbemi said.
Although prosecution counsel, Dr. Jide Martins did not oppose Fagbemi’s application for adjournment, he observed that another witness could have been prepared to testify on the matter.
Martins said “Without sounding pedantic, I would have thought an alternative witness would have been produced by the defence.”
In a bench ruling, Justice Lawal-Akapo held: “By consent of all parties, I hereby adjourn till May 10 and 11 for the defence to open its case. The May 4 date is hereby vacated.”
The Lagos State Government had on April 19, 2016 arraigned Synagogue Trustees, alongside the two engineers who built the building – Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun – and their companies – Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited.
The Synagogue Trustees is facing one count charge of building without approval, while the other defendants were docked on 110- count charge of involuntary manslaughter.
The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) said the defendants violated Section 75 of the Urban and Regional Planning Law of Lagos State, 2010 as well as Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State, 2011.
The defendants pleaded not guilty to the charges.