Joshua Appeals Court Ruling Dismissing Application to Stop Inquest

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The Synagogue Church of All Nations has filed an appeal against an Ikeja High Court ruling which dismissed its application to stop the ongoing coroner’s inquest into its collapsed guest house.

The counsel to the church, Mr Oluwaseun Abimbola, disclosed this on Thursday at the resumption of the inquest presided over by Mr Oyetade Komolafe.

Following the dismissal of the application to stop the inquest, Komolafe had asked Abimbola to pick a date for Joshua’s appearance before the inquest.

Responding, Abimbola told the coroner that an appeal had already been filed against the ruling at the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the inquest was set up by the Lagos State Government to investigate the Sept.12, 2014 building collapse which killed 116 people, mainly South Africans.

However, the church and its founder, Prophet Temitope Joshua, had dragged Komolafe before Justice Lateefa Okunnu, asking the superior court to halt the inquest.

Delivering her ruling on March 6, Okunnu held that the application was premature and lacking in merit.

The judge, who relied on the works of Mr Christopher Dorries, a British coroner’s law expert, held that the Coroner’s Court was inquisitorial in nature.

Okunnu said Sections 26 and 27 of the Coroner’s System Law of Lagos State, 2007, empowered the coroner to summon any witness to assist him in his fact-finding mission.

According to her, the summons extended to Joshua to testify was not unusual because he was listed in the applicant’s affidavit as the “Founder and General Overseer” of the church.

She also dismissed the allegation that Komolafe had been biased against the applicants in the proceedings as there was no evidence before the court to support the claim.

Komolafe had held that a coroner had the prerogative to take evidence from any witness he deemed relevant to reaching his conclusions.

Testifying earlier at the inquest, Mr Victor Oyenuga, a witness from the Council for the Regulation of Engineers in Nigeria (COREN), said investigations were carried out to unravel the cause of the collapse.
Oyenuga said the outcomes of the investigations were detailed in a 30-page technical report jointly prepared by COREN and the Nigerian Building and Road Research Institute (NBRRI).
He said: “From our investigations, we discovered that the foundation of the building was undersized.
“The columns were not strong enough to carry the weight of the building and the designs were not proper for such a structure.
“To my own knowledge, whoever designed that building is not a structural engineer.
“If a structural engineer handled this project, the way the reinforcement was designed would have been different.”
Oyenuga, therefore, appealed to the court to make a recommendation that buildings should be designed by structural engineers in order to forestall such occurrence in future.
NAN reports that the matter was adjourned till March 13 for further hearing.


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