Court Arraigns Synagogue Church Trustees, Engineers For Manslaughter
SAN FRANCISCO, April 19, (THEWILL) – Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, were on Tuesday finally arraigned at the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja over the collapse of a building belonging to the church on September 12, 2014, which led to the death of 116 persons.
The Defendants were docked by Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo after he dismissed the application filed by the 2nd and 5th defendants seeking to quash the charge and stay of proceedings pending the determination of the application at the court of appeal.
The two engineers who constructed the collapsed building, Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun and their companies, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited were among those docked at the court.
The Defendants were arraigned for charges bordering on Failure to Obtain Building Approval contrary to Section 75 of the Urban and Regional Planning Law of Lagos State 2010, Involuntary Manslaughter causing death contrary to Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
The Office of the Lagos State Attorney-General had filed its Information Papers since September, 2015 containing 111 count charges against the Synagogue Trustees and the two engineers that supervised the construction of the collapsed building and their respective companies before a Lagos State High Court.
Since the charges were filed, the Defendants had tried to stall their arraignment by filing several applications including the instant applications which were dismissed today by the trial Judge.
The lead counsel representing the Defendants made several efforts to convince the court not to proceed with the arraignment today.
Chief Lateef Fagbemi SAN representing SCOAN argued that it would be improper for the court to proceed with the arraignment, since the business of the court today was for ruling. While Chief E. L. Akpofure SAN representing Hardrock Construction Company said he would not be able to proceed because he just lost his mother. Mrs Titilola Akinlawon SAN and Olalekan Ojo who represented the 3rd-5th Defendants also aligned themselves with the Learned SAN for the 1st Defendant.
Justice Akapo however overruled them and ordered that the charges be read in court to the accused persons, noting that criminal trials are to be heard expeditiously in line with s.8 of the National Judicial Policy and that there is nothing stopping him from proceeding with arraignment.
The defendants in the suit are: the Registered Trustees of Synagogue Church of All Nation, SCOAN, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company, Jadny Trust Limited, Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun
The representative of the 1st defendant, SCOAN, Mr.Niyi Jegede, the 4th and 5th defendants, Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun were in court and pleaded not guilty to the charges proffered against them while a plea of Not Guilty was recorded for the 2nd and 3rd Defendants being corporate bodies.
The State Prosecution team led by the Director of Public Prosecution, DPP, Mrs. Idowu Alakija applied for the defendants who are not corporate bodies to be reminded in prison custody.
Based on the DPP's application, the court ordered that the 4th and 5th defendants be remanded in Kirikiri prison and adjourned the case to May 19th, 20th, 23rd, June 1st, 2nd and 3rd for trial.