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Synagogue tragedy: Court hears engineers’ case against coroner
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Synagogue tragedy: Court hears engineers’ case against coroner

Yvonne Williams

A Federal High Court in Lagos has further adjourned till October 19, 2015 to hear two separate suits seeking to quash the coroner’s verdict on the September 12, 2014 Synagogue Church Of All Nations building collapse.

The suits were filed by the two structural engineers contracted by SCOAN to build the collapsed six-storey building, Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun.

Ogundeji and Fatiregun had been indicted of criminal negligence by a coroner who conducted an inquest into the deaths of the 116 persons who lost their lives in the tragic incident.

The coroner, Mr. Oyetade Komolafe, had recommended that the state should investigate and prosecute them.

The state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, had disclosed that his administration would implement the coroner’s recommendations.

But the engineers, through their lawyer, Mr. Olalekan Ojo, rejected the coroner’s verdict and described it as “unreasonable, one-sided and biased.”

They subsequently approached the court asking that the coroner’s verdict and recommendations be invalidated and pronounced null and void.

They urged the court to bar the Attorney General of the state or any officer acting under his authority from initiating or commencing criminal proceedings against the applicants on the basis of the findings and recommendations of the coroner.

They also urged the court to declare that the Commissioner of Police in Lagos State lacked the power to act on the coroner’s verdict to investigate or prosecute them.

Justice Mohammed Idris, who entertained separate ex parte applications by the engineers during the court’s vacation, had on July 22, 2015 ordered that parties should maintain the status quo pending the determination of the main suit.

The case however came up on Wednesday before Justice Ibrahim Buba to whom it has now been transferred.

At the resumed proceedings, Ojo informed the court that though he had received a counter-affidavit filed in opposition by the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, his reply was filed out of time.

His said his clients intended to pay the penalty sum, adding that he needed a short stand-down to process the payment.

But Buba said rather than stand the case down for a few minutes; he would be adjourning till a further date to take all pending applications.

He subsequently adjourned further proceedings till October 19, 2015.

The pending applications include the preliminary objection filed by the state challenging the court’s jurisdiction to entertain the case.

The Solicitor General of the state, Mr. Lawal Pedro (SAN), is contending that since the engineers were not agents of the Federal Government, the Federal High Court lacked the jurisdiction to entertain their case.

Source: www.punchng.com