Synagogue Building: T.B. Joshua Absent At Coroner’s Inquest
The coroner’s inquest into the collapsed Synagogue building continued on Wednesday at the Lagos High Court in Ikeja and the founder of the Synagogue Chruch of All Nations, Prophet T.B Joshua failed to appear.
The contractor of the collapsed building, who had also been summoned to testify alongside the church founder also failed to show up.
Two weeks ago, the coroner, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, had summoned both men to appear before the inquest to give information on what they know about the collapse with a view to helping the inquest determine the cause and forestall a recurrence.
The coroner had ordered the court baliff to serve the witness summons to appear on both men.
But counsel to the church, Mr Olalekan Ojo, informed the coroner that both men were yet to be personally served with the witness summons.
Mr Ojo said he was volunteering the information to the coroner to prevent a public misconception that the Prophet TB Joshua had dishonoured the court by not appearing after he had been served.
He also explained that the prophet, being the chief mourner, has not been available because he was contacting the families of victims who lost their lives in the September 12 incident.
A hundred and sixteen people were said to have died In the incident.
The counsel to the church also said that the collapsed building contractor had not been served because the court did not have his contact information.
After listening to this explanation, the coroner sought to be guided on why the summons could not be served on the counsel especially in accordance with Section 5 of the Magistrate Civil Procedure Rules, 2009.
The counsel however refused to accept service insisting that service of witness summons through counsel was not provided for within the law.
The coroner has however reiterated that Prophet TB Joshua must appear before the inquest. He said that the court would do the needful to ensure that the prophet was served. He also appealed to the counsel and the Chief Security officer of the Synagogue Church to assist the court in doing this, failing which the court may be forced to use the police and bring the full wrath of the law to bear.
As for the building contractor, the coroner asked the church counsel to help with getting his contact details to enable service on him. The lawyer obliged but pleaded for time to consult and get the necessary information and the coroner gave him till Friday to provide the information.
The General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Agency (LASEMA), Dr. Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu has however testified before the inquest. He told the coroner that rescue efforts were initially impeded because of some resistance his team faced while trying to access the scene of the collapsed building.
The LASEMA GM also blamed the Police for not being able to control the crowd that had gathered at the scene of the incident.
He said that his team succeeded in recovering 86 dead bodies with 131 people rescued alive. The bodies rescued, he says, were not disjointed.