Court Restrains Prosecution Of Synagogue Collapsed Building Engineers

SynagogueThe Federal High Court sitting in Lagos has restrained the Lagos State Government from prosecuting the two engineers who built the collapsed guest house of the Synagogue Church of All Nations.

Justice Ibrahim Buba on Tuesday granted an order of injunction barring the Commissioner of Police from arresting and detaining the two men.

The judge gave the ruling on an application for an injunction pending the appeal filed by the engineers.

In an earlier judgement on Fundamental Rights Enforcement suit filed by the engineers to stop their prosecution by the Government, Justice Buba held that the men “had not made a case for infringement of their fundamental human rights even on the merit of the application”.

He dismissed their applications on November 11, 2015 paving the way for their arraignment and trial.

The engineers have, however, approached the court of appeal to challenge this ruling.

Justice Buba, who granted their application to stay the proceedings against them by the Lagos State Government, said his ruling would subsist until the engineers’ appeal against his earlier ruling was determined by the Court of Appeal.

He urged the prosecution to ensure that the appeal was heard expeditiously and threatened to vacate the restraining order if the engineers failed to prosecute their appeal promptly.

On Monday the Lagos State government had sought to arraign both men, their engineering company, Hardrock Construction Company, one Jadyn Trust Limited and the registered trustees of the Synagogue Church before a Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja.

The State government slammed a 111-count charge against them.

Their arraignment was however stalled owing to the absence of both men & their company in court.

Synagogue Collapse: Court Adjourns Suit To Prohibit TB Joshua From Appearing Before Coroner

court-on-Synagogue The Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, Lagos State capital, has adjourned the ruling on the prohibition suit initiated by the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), alongside its Founder, Prophet Temitope Joshua, till March 6.

The Court, presided over by Justice Lateefat Okunnu, adjourned to the 6th of March to rule whether or not the coroner is a juristic personality.

The Judge, who was supposed to rule on Tuesday, raised the issue of whether or not the coroner could be sued or not.

She stated the outstanding issue that needed to be clarified before she could give her ruling on the matter, noting that the councils should file their process on the issue within two days.

Meanwhile at the Synagogue coroners’ inquest going on at the Coroners Court, the Chief Security Officer of SCOAN, Sunday Okoji, gave testimony as to whether or not the Statutory respondents were at the crash site all through the period.

The coroner adjourned the suit till the March 6 for continuation of inquest.

Court Earlier Set Aside March 3, 2015 For Ruling

Meanwhile, the same court had earlier set aside March 3, 2015 as the day to deliver ruling on the prohibition suit.

The Judge arrived at the decision, shortly after lead counsel to SCOAN, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), replied on point of law to the arguments raised by lawyer to the Lagos State Government before the court.

The suit was instituted against the Lagos State Coroners Court sitting in Ikeja, and the Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, who was presiding over the court.

Specifically, SCOAN wanted the court to stay further proceedings of the inquest and suspend further actions on Joshua’s invitation to appear to give evidence before it, pending the determination of his suit against Chief Magistrate Komolafe before the High Court.

SCOAN alongside its Founder had filed the suit pursuant to Order 40 Rule 5 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure Rules) 2012 and signed by O.M Abimbola.

Synagogue Building Collapse: Court To Deliver Ruling On March 3

SynagogueLagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, presided over by Justice Lateefa Okunnu, on Thursday set aside March 3, 2015 as the day to deliver ruling on the prohibition suit initiated by the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), alongside its founder, Prophet Temitope Joshua.

The Judge arrived at the decision, shortly after lead counsel to SCOAN, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), replied on point of law to the argument raised by lawyer to the Lagos State Government before the court.

The suit was instituted against the Lagos State Coroners Court sitting in Ikeja, and the Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, who was presiding over the court.

Specifically, SCOAN wanted the court to stay further proceedings of the inquest and suspend further actions on Joshua’s invitation to appear to give evidence before it, pending the determination of his suit against Chief Magistrate Komolafe before the High Court.

SCOAN alongside its Founder had filed the suit pursuant to Order 40 Rule 5 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure Rules) 2012 and signed by  O.M Abimbola.

The suit was praying Justice Okunnu for an order of prohibition, against the Coroner’s Court of Lagos State and the presiding 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, 2014.

According to the suit designated ID/188MJR/2014, SCOAN wanted the Lagos High Court to issue, “An order of Certiorari to quash the proceedings of the 1st and 2nd respondents in the conduct of the coroner’s inquest into the death of unknown persons in the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Ikotun Egbe, Lagos on 12th September, 2014 in suit number CR/AL/01/2014 concerning 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 the statutory jurisdiction of the 1st and 2nd respondents.

“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 2nd applicant 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 were 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 bias, 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 had demonstrated personal interest in the subject matter and his neutrality clearly compromised.

“An order of injunction restraining the coroner from taking and continuing to take evidence/proceedings on the issue of approval and construction of the collapsed building, which issues were clearly outside the scope of a coroner’s inquest.”

In arguing this application, SCOAN alongside its founder had told the Judge that Chief Magistrate Komolafe, who is the Coroner investigating the collapse of the guest house belonging to the church, had exceeded the jurisdiction of a Coroners Court.

The duo made the assertion through their lawyer, Fagbemi (SAN) while arguing the suit made against Chief Magistrate Komolafe at the Lagos High Court.

The Coroners Inquest was initiated by the Lagos State Government to carryout investigation into the September 12, 2014 collapse of the six-storey building which claimed the life of 116 persons.

In moving the application, Chief Fagbemi (SAN) maintained that the Lagos State Coroner’s Law 2007 only gave powers to the Coroner to determine the cause of death and to identify the body of the deceased.

The SAN further argued that taking evidence on the issues of approval and construction of the collapsed building were clearly outside the scope and jurisdiction of the Coroner’s Court.

The SAN revealed that Chief Magistrate Komolafe had been hearing evidence on such extraneous issues at the inquest which started proceedings on October 13,2014.

The senior lawyer maintained that Sections 32 and 33 of the Coroner Law does not empower the Coroner to summon on manners of persons to appear before the inquest, adding that the Coroner’s summons on Prophet Joshua to personally appear before the inquest was unconstitutional and a breach of his right to fair hearing.

He equally insisted that Chief Magistrate Komolafe had shown personal interest in the subject matter which could lead to being biased against his client.

Chief Fagbemi then prayed Justice Okunnu to grant the application and declare the Coroner proceedings null and void.

In responding, lawyer to the Lagos State Government, Afeez Owokoniran, prayed the court to throw out the suit.

According to the lawyer, the Coroner had extensive powers to investigate the cause and circumstances of death and bring his findings and recommendations to the attention of appropriate authorities.

He said, “In doing this, he has all the powers of a magistrate to summon and compel the attendance of witnesses, including medical examiners, and require them to give evidence, produce documents or present other relevant materials.

“In order to determine the cause of death, the Coroner has the latitude to investigate issues pertaining to building approval, soil testing and materials used in the construction of the collapsed building.”

Synagogue Building Collapse Inquest Begins

building collapseThe Coroners inquest into the September 12, Synagogue Church Building Collapse began today at the Lagos High Court premises in Ikeja.

Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe who presided over the inaugural sitting of the inquest today, assured the parties who turned up that the court would be fair as it was only on a fact finding mission and not out prosecute anyone.

The Synagogue Church of all nations and its Founder, Prophet TB Joshua was represented at the inquest by a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, Mr Lateef Fagbemi & Mr Olalekan Ojo while Mr Akingbolahan Adeniran represented the Lagos State Government.

The Nigeria Police, Nigerian Red Cross and the Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) were also represented by lawyers at the inquest today.

In his address to the lawyers and witnesses, Magistrate Komolafe outlined the procedure that would be adopted in the fact finding process. He urged all parties to front load and submit their testimonies, list of witnesses and other documents to the courts registry before sending same to other parties.

The Magistrate also asked members of the public with useful information that would assist the inquest to come forward and testify

He pleaded with the families of the South African victims to make available their blood samples to the pathologists for easy identification of the victims even as he urged the South African Embassy in Nigeria to send its representatives to the inquest.

The Magistrate has however warned that a summon would be issued on any witness who fails to appear before the tribunal to make presentation.

Channels Television’s judiciary correspondent, Shola Soyele reports that the Coroner and the parties to the inquest have agreed and made plans to visit the synagogue church on Thursday to see the scene of the incident.

Outside the court, a few synagogue church members, some physically challenged staged a peaceful protest. They carried placards bearing inscriptions asking that their prophet be left alone.

On the 26th of September, the Lagos State Government had set up the coroners inquest to ascertain the cause of the Synagogue church building collapse which left about 115 people dead.

Most of the victims of the collapsed building were of South Africa nationality.

Professional Body Calls On Senate To Intervene In Construction Sector

Samuel IlugbekhaiThe President, Nigerian Institute of Structural Engineers, Samuel Ilugbekhai, on Wednesday called on the Senate to intervene in the construction sector and “create an enabling law for the competent practice of structural engineering in Nigeria” in order to prevent building collapses, such as that of the recent Synagogue Building.

Mr Ilugbekhai, who noted that issues concerning building collapse in Nigeria have been discussed for over 30 years, emphasised the need for the general public to have structural engineers on building sites, as only such a professional can guarantee that a building has strength.

“An average building has a team that works on it. The architect conceives the building. The structural engineer gives the building the strength to stand its entire lifetime. So the building standing everyday means that the structural engineer is continuously at work.

“Any day that building suffers any form of defect that makes it come down, it means that structural engineering has failed,” he said, while on Sunrise Daily.

He noted that the Institute has been in existence since 1968 and “till date, none of our members have been found wanting, in terms of any form of collapse”.

He went further to emphasise that “if you are going to build anything, that a human being is going to be inside, a structural engineer must be there”. He noted that even the simplest of all constructions, bungalow, should also have such an engineer on site.

However, it appears that the general public does not often patronise the services of structural engineers.

“I mentioned that for the past 30 years alone (at least which I’m aware of), we have tried to drum the signal of this danger to the ears of those who are supposed to know.”

We mentioned that many letters had been written to “the appropriate authorities” including Council Of Registered Engineers in Nigeria (COREN), the overall regulating body for engineering in Nigeria, the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), warning of the impending danger.

“If you are not a structural engineer, don’t dabble into structural engineering.”

He argued that the engineering authorities should have sent out warning signals to all practitioners and also put in place an enabling policy.

“Thank God the Senate has come into it. It is within their reach to do that.”

He suggested that the Institution, which is tailored after the Institute of Structual Engineers in the United Kingdom, should be backed by an act of law.

“What the Senate will just do is create an enabling law for the competent practice of structural engineering in Nigeria.”

He however agreed that the use of substandard materials also play a major role in the collapse of building, adding that inclement or extreme weather conditions, act of God and human factors are the other reasons for building collapse.

“If after over 30 years, we have not been able to remove substandard materials from the market, then there’s an agency who is not working properly”, he noted.

3 Dead, 5 Rescued in Benin Church Building Collapse

Church BuildingIt was a tragic day  as three people have been confirmed dead after a church building collapsed in Benin City on Friday.

The one-storey building, belonging to Christ Chosen Church Of God, collapsed at about 2pm in the Erhunse area of the city.

About 9 people were said to be demolishing the building, following the relocation of the church to a new structure, when it caved in, trapping the workers inside.

Speaking at the scene of the incident, the Commissioner of Police, Edo State Command, said that he got an anonymous call which prompted his quick intervention as an irate crowd threatened to set ablaze what was left of the property.

Synagogue: South African Relatives Condemn Inadequate Information As Rescue Ends

SynagogueMany anxious relatives are besieging the OR Tambo International Airport, Johannesburg, hoping to see their loved ones return safely from Lagos after the Synagogue church building collapse last Friday.

However, for some it is a very frustrating wait as they complain that they are not getting any information about what has happened to them.

Channels Television Correspondent in South Africa, who was at the airport in Johannesburg early Thursday morning, spoke to some relatives who complained bitterly.

A team of Rescue Response experts from South Africa have joined the Nigerian Government efforts to manage the crisis.

SA officials say 67 South Africans died in the incident and many still unaccounted for.

Meanwhile, back in Nigeria, rescue operation at the site of the collapsed 6-storey guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations has ended on Thursday.

A combined team of the National and the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency told journalists that there was no more trace of dead victims.

They revealed that the second phase of data collation and identification of victims has commenced.

The total final death figures released by the agencies is put at 80 with 131 survivors.

South African President, Jacob Zuma , said at least 67 South Africans died in the Friday’s accident at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos and has described it as one of the worst tragedies in South Africa’s recent history.

The collapse occurred when three extra storeys were being added to the existing two of a guest house in the church compound.

Led by the charismatic Prophet T.B. Joshua, the pentecostal church attracts a global following of Christians who believe Joshua is able to perform miracles including curing the ill and raising the dead.

Full Text: President Zuma’s Statement On South Africans In Synagogue Collapsed Building

Fellow South Africans,

I am greatly saddened to announce that 67 South Africans died and scores of others sustained injuries, after a building at the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed on Friday, 12 September 2014, in Lagos, in the Federal Republic of Nigeria.

This is a particularly difficult time for South Africa. Not in the recent history of our country have we had this large number of our people die in one incident outside the country.

Our thoughts are with the families, friends and colleagues that have lost their loved ones in this heart-breaking tragedy. The whole nation shares the pain of the mothers, fathers, daughters and sons who have lost their loved ones. We are all in grief.

As we mourn this sudden and tragic death of our fellow compatriots, I have directed the relevant Government departments and entities to act with the utmost urgency to ensure that we facilitate the movement of relevant family members to Nigeria to identify the bodies of their loved ones and to ensure that we repatriate the remains as soon as possible under the circumstances.

I would like to take this opportunity also to thank all family members and friends who have provided information to Government, which information has assisted the South African High Commission in Nigeria in its efforts to locate our fellow citizens.

I would also like to commend all affected families for their patience and resolve during this very painful period.

On behalf of the Government and the people of South Africa, I would like to thank the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria for their support during this difficult time. We also send our sincere condolences to the people of Nigeria and all other nations affected by this tragedy.

I would like to assure all affected families that the Government will provide all the necessary support.

Government will keep the public informed of developments around this tragedy.

May the souls of the departed compatriots rest in peace.

I thank you.

Issued by: the Presidency

Pretoria

Website: www.thepresidency.gov.za

Synagogue Building: Death Toll Rises To 60 As Woman Walks Out Alive

Synagogue building debris.The death toll of the collapsed building in the premises of the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Lagos has risen to 60, as a 45 year old woman was rescued alive from the debris after four days.

Information provided by the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) showed that 131 persons have been rescued from the rubble.

The woman, whose nationality has not been revealed, was found alive at about 2:00am with only minor injuries.

Meanwhile, the standard organisation of Nigeria has begun investigation into the materials used for the construction of the building, with iron rods and sand stones collected for laboratory test.

Earlier report had put the death toll at 45.

The building which was under construction before it collapsed on Friday afternoon, was also being used as a guest house for church members and visitors, especially foreigners.

As at the time of the collapse, people were living in the building.

An investigative panel would be set up as soon as the rescue and recovery phase is over, including the GM of LASEMA, the Ministry of Works, the Ministry of Physical Planning, Ministry of Health, and all other stakeholders.

 

T.B Joshua Blames “Strange Aircraft” For Collapsed Synagogue Building

T.B JoshuaThe Founder and General Overseer of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Temitope Joshua, popularly referred to as T.B Joshua, has linked the collapse of a building within the premises of the church headquarters in Lagos, to a “strange aircraft” which he said hovered around the building before it collapsed.

While briefing journalists on the incident on Saturday, the pastor was said to have provided a video evidence, showing a flying aircraft, to back his claim.

In the said video, a plane was seen flying over the collapsed guest house belonging to the church at four different times, between 11:30 am and 11:54 am – on Friday morning. The building collapsed at about 1pm, on the same day.

According to the pastor, the said aircraft contributed to the incident, which led to the death of at least 40 persons.

He further alleged that he was the target of the hovering jet.

“Immediately I left the prayer room (which is a 10-minute drive from the church) for the church, I got a call that a jet was hovering over the prayer room but as I finished bathing and moved to the prayer room, I got another call that the jet has moved to the church and that was it,” Mr. Joshua said.

“Members cannot be the target, the easier way to stop this church is to get the head and from my explanation, you know the truth,” he added.

Mr Joshua has called on security agents to study the video evidence, a CCTV footage, and investigate the incident.

TB Joshua Denies Ebola Victims’ Visit To His Church

T.B JoshuaA team led by the Lagos State Commissioner For Health, Dr. Jide Idris, met on Sunday with the General Overseer of the Synagogue Church For All Nation, Pastor T.B Joshua.

The meeting became expedient following rumours of possible carriers of the Ebola Virus visiting the church which is fared for healing and miracles and attracts visitors from within and outside the country.

Pastor T.B Joshua denied such allegation, saying that there was no such in his church.

Meanwhile, the state’s Health Commissioner has advised that the disease was deadly and the cooperation of all was needed to assist Government curb the spread of the virus.

He noted that as the Lagos State Government continues to take measures to curtail any possible spread of Ebola disease in the state, religious leaders have an important role to play based on their influence on their congregations.