November 5, 2014

Court declines to stop coroner’s inquest into Synagogue bulding collapse

Court declines to stop coroner’s  inquest into Synagogue bulding collapse

TB Joshua-Synagogue Church

By Innocent Anaba

LAGOS—A Federal High Court sitting in Lagos, yesterday, declined to stop the ongoing coroner’s inquest into the Synagogue building collapse, until it hears the case on its merit.

 TB Joshua-Synagogue Church

TB Joshua-Synagogue Church

Trial judge, Justice Ibrahim Buba, in a ruling on an oral application by an applicant, Mr Olukoya Ogungbeje, seeking to stop further sittings of the Coroner’s court, pending the outcome of the suit said, “Although, the applicant wants an order of interim injunction restraining T.B Joshua from appearing before the coroner, I must say that he is not a party to the suit, neither is he held in detention.

“The respondents were served with the court processes on Friday, and by the rules, they have five days to respond, but time was abridged and they accepted, and so, let us not loose sight of the issue here.

“If applicant was the party summoned before the coroner, then the issue of a restraining order will arise, but in this situation, how can I restrain the whole world.

“The applicant has not shown that he will suffer any danger if the restraining order is not granted, and so, I will hear this case on its merit on Thursday, Nov. 6, and I will not grant any restraining orders; this is the ruling of this court,” he said

It will be recalled that on September 12, a six-storey building within the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, collapsed in Lagos.

The incident led to the death of 116 people most of whom were foreigners.

The Lagos State Government on September 26, constituted a Coroner’s Court to unravel the circumstances leading to the incidence.

Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe was appointed Coroner.

Ogungbeje, a Lagos based lawyer in the suit is seeking an order, restraining further proceedings in the suit, pending the determination of a substantive suit at the Federal High Court.

Defendants in the suit are the Lagos State Government, the Attorney General of the State, Mr Ade Ipaye, and Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe.

At the hearing in the matter, yesterday, counsel to the respondents, informed the court that he had been served with the processes filed by the applicant.

He, however, prayed the court for a short time to regularise his responses.

Reacting, counsel to the applicant,  said although he was not opposed to the adjournment, it was important for the court to issue an order, restraining the Coroner from further inquest.

He informed the court that the General Overseer of the Church, Prophet T.B Joshua, had already been summoned to appear before the Coroner on Novvember 5, adding that it was important to stop them.

According to counsel, “the draconian speed at which the coroner’s court is sitting, simply means that after it summons Prophet T.B Joshua, it would make its findings and submit its report, then this entire suit will be a waste.

“It is therefore, important for my lord to restrain them from further inquest in the suit.”

After listening to the argument of counsel, Justice Buba held that an order of interim injunction was not necessary in the situation, since the applicant was not personally affected by the inquest.

The applicant in his suit, averred that the composition of the Coroner’s Court, was a negation of the principle of natural justice and Section 36 of the Constitution, and as such, was unconstitutional and void.

He averred that the inquest was constituted by the Lagos State Government after the agencies of the state government had indicted the Church of erecting additional structures on an already existing building without approval.