18th January, 2016
The Registered Trustee of Synagogue Church of All Nation, led by Prophet Temitope Joshua has sued Lagos State Coroner, Magistrate Komolafe Oyetade and Attorney-General over the criminal indictment of the church and two engineers who constructed the collapsed building that killed about 116 persons on September 12, 2014.
In a motion filed before Justice Kazeem Alogba, TB Joshua and his church is seeking an order of certiorari quashing the verdict of the coroners’ court presided over by Komolafe Oyetade on the ground that the court exceeded its statutory jurisdiction.
Komolafe and the Attorney General, Lagos State are listed as respondents in the suit filed on January 11, 2016.
The Lagos Coroners court in a verdict last year had indicted TB Joshua’s church and the two engineers that constructed the collapsed building.
The court particularly ordered that Synagogue church be investigated and proceeded against by the relevant authorities for not possessing necessary building permit while the two engineers who constructed the collapsed building should be tried for criminal negligence.
TB Joshua and the two embattled engineers subsequently filed a Fundamental Human Rights Enforcement suit before a Federal High Court, Lagos against the Coroners Court, Lagos State Government, Commissioner of Police, Lagos State and Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, COREN.
The suit which was meant stop the arrest and prosecution of the church and the engineers was however dismissed by the Federal Court.
Following the Federal High Court judgment, the Lagos State Government late last year instituted a 111 count criminal charges against Trustees of the church and the two engineers. The matter is slated for hearing tomorrow Tuesday before Justice Lateef Lawal- Akapo.
In the new suit seeking to quash the coroners’ verdict, Synagogue church contended that the “Coroner’s Court of Lagos State, Alimosho District”. Which presided over and delivered the verdict is unknown to Coroner’s Court of Lagos State, 2007 and Coroner’s System Law (Subsidiary Legislation) which established Coroner’s Court in Lagos State.
The church further contended that the Lagos Coroner’s System Law, 2007 only established Lagos, Ikeja, Yaba and Apapa districts and that Alimosho Coroner’s district which presided over the Synagogue building collapse inquest was not a creation of the law.
The church also urged that any finding, recommendation and or verdict delivered or rendered by an illegal court such as “Coroner’s Court, Alimosho District” is a nullity and liable to be quashed.
The new suit is also praying the High Court to quash the verdict of the coroner’s court on the ground that the inquest acted in excess of it jurisdiction by concluding that structural failure due to the combination of design and detailing errors caused the collapse of the Synagogue six-story building.
According to the suit, the recommendations made by the coroner’s court ordering the prosecution of the church and building engineers was outside the powers of the coroners as it is only empowered to inquire into the cause of death, time of death, manner of death and identities of the persons that died.
In the light of its argument, the church also prayed the court to make an order setting aside the charges instituted by the Lagos State Government against Registered Trustees of SCOAN.
When the matter came up on Monday, Magistrate Komolafe was absent in court and was not represented by any lawyer.
Barr. A. O Idowu who represented the Attorney General of Lagos State however pleaded with the court for time to filed a response to the suit.
The matter has been adjourned till February 4, 2016.