Inquest Has Exceeded Its Jurisdiction ---Synagogue

Pastor T.B. Joshua.

•Pastor T.B. Joshua.

Henry Ojelu

The Synagogue Church Of All Nations, SCOAN, today claimed that Mr Oyetade Komolafe, the coroner investigating the collapse of the church’s guest house had exceeded the jurisdiction of a coroner’s court.

The church made the claim throught its counsel, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN),at the commencement of its suit against Komolafe and the Lagos State Government, before Justice Lateefa Okunnu of an Ikeja High Court.

The inquest was set up by the government to investigate the September 12,2014 collapse of the six-storey building which killed 116 persons.

Moving the application, Fagbemi argued that the Lagos State Coroner’s Law 2007 only empowered the coroner to determine the cause of death and to identify the body of the deceased.

According to him taking evidence on the issues of approval and construction of the collapsed building are clearly outside the scope and jurisdiction of the coroner’s court.

He said Komolafe had been hearing evidence on such extraneous issues at the inquest which began sitting on Oct.13,2014.

Fagbemi said Sections 32 and 33 of the Coroner Law does not empower the coroner to summon on manners of persons to appear before the inquest.

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According to him, the coroner’s summons on SCOAN’s founder, Prophet Temitope Joshua, to personally appear before the inquest is unconstitutional and a breach of his right to fair hearing.

He said the coroner had demonstrated personal interest in the subject matter which could lead to being biased against his client.

Fagbemi, therefore urged the court to grant the application and declare the coroner proceedings null and void.

Responding, counsel to the Lagos State Government, Mr Afeez Owokoniran, urged the court to dismiss the suit.

Owokoniran said the coroner had extensive powers to investigate the cause and circumstances of death and bring his findings and recommendations to the attention of appropriate authorities.

“In doing this, he has all the powers of a magistrate to summon and compel the attendance of witnesses, including medical examiners, and require them to give evidence, produce documents or present other relevant materials.”

“In order to determine the cause of death, the coroner has the latitude to investigate issues pertaining to building approval, soil testing and materials used in the construction of the collapsed building,” he added.

The matter was adjourned till February 17, for reply on points of law.

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