Synagogue disaster: Joshau institute legal action to stop Coroner
By Precious Igbonwelundu
Amidst threat by the Coroner investigating the collapse of a foreign guest house at the Synagogue Church of All Nation (SCOAN) to arrest absentee witnesses, Prophet Temitope Joshua has approached an Ikeja High Court to stop the coroner.
Coroner Oyetade Komolafe was informed of a suit before Justice Lateefa Okunnu seeking prohibition of the Coroner from exceeding his jurisdiction by SCOAN’s lawyer Olalekan Ojo.
Joined as parties in the suit filed by the Registered Trustees of SCOAN and Joshua are Coroner’s Court of Lagos State and the presiding officer of the instant case, Magistrate Komolafe.
The suit filed pursuant to Order 40 Rule 5 of the High Court Civil Procedure Rule, 2012 and signed by one O.M. Abimbola is marked ID/188MJR/2014.
But after the SCOAN lawyer informed the coroner’s court of the presence of the suit before the Lagos High Court, Magistrate Komolafe reiterated his severally stated position that no one was being tried.
He however called on Prophet Joshua to endeavour to abide by the laws of the land.
“I also want to put the records straight that the Lagos State government is not after Prophet T.B Joshua. He should be a good example to his flocks.
“I don’t want to inflict injury on anyone and we are not here to prosecute anyone either.”
Joshua is praying for an order of prohibition against the Coroner’s Court of Lagos State and Magistrate Komolafe from exceeding their jurisdiction in the conduct of coroner’s inquest into the death of unknown persons in the collapsed building within the premises of SCOAN on September 12.
He prayed the court to issue, “An order of Certiorari to quash the proceedings of the Coroner and Komolafe on matters, issues and circumstances other than what directly caused the death of the victims and the manner of their death for having been conducted without or in excess of their statutory jurisdiction.
“A declaration that the decision of the coroner to summon the applicants to give evidence at a time when no materials were placed before the coroner against the applicants is a breach of the applicants right to fair hearing.
“A declaration that the coroner who relied on his personal knowledge of the facts of the case is not a proper person to preside at the inquest into the death of people at the collapsed building of Synagogue Church of All Nations.
“A declaration that the coroner who relied on extraneous matters not borne out of the records to reach his conclusion that the second applicant (Joshua) is a necessary witness when in fact is not, is in breach of the rules of natural justice and fair hearing guaranteed by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
“An order prohibiting the coroner from conducting further inquest/proceedings relating to the construction of the collapsed building which facts are clearly outside the scope of a coroner’s inquest.
“An order quashing the proceedings of the coroner’s inquest in its entirety for being conducted in breach of the rule of natural justice, likelihood of blade, and for taking proceedings clearly outside the scope of the jurisdiction of the respondent.
“An order prohibiting the respondent from insisting on the personal attendance of the 2nd applicant as such will be without or in excess of jurisdiction, unconstitutional and unlawful.
“An order of injunction to restrain the respondents as presently constituted from further conducting any inquest into the collapsed building of Synagogue Church of All Nations, as the 2nd respondent has demonstrated personal interest in the subject matter and his neutrality clearly compromised.
“An order of injunction restraining coroner from taking and continuing to take evidence/proceedings on the issue of approval and construction of the collapsed building, which issues are clearly outside the scope of a coroner’s inquest,” prayed Joshua.
Earlier the witness from Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) Bede Obayi who continued his evidence stated that the results from concrete debris collected from the collapse site remained suspect. “I do not know the portion of the collapsed site from which the concrete debrils were taken. I can also confirm to this court, that pressure must have been applied on the concrete debrils taken as a result of rescue operations. “The debrils we took were collected from different points at the collapsed site and therefore there will be variation of results,” he said.
Another SON’s witness, Tsonatu Theopiles said the organisation’s responsibility was to ascertain if quality materials were used.”From the CCTV footage I watched, I cannot observe any form of weakness or failed portion of the building. The building collapsed within four seconds.”