Collapsed Synagogue SCOAN Building

Collapsed Synagogue SCOAN Building

Synagogue Avoidable Tragedy: Lagos Vows To Get Justice For victims

A Federal High Court in Lagos is set to hear the suit filed by two structural engineers that supervised the construction of the collapsed building within the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN premises.

Collapsed Synagogue SCOAN Building

Collapsed Synagogue SCOAN Building

In the suit which is before Justice Ibrahim Buba, the plaintiffs Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, are asking the court to nullify the coroner’s verdict on the collapsed building delivered on October 19, 2015.

The respondents in the suits are the Lagos State Commissioner of Police, the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria, the Attorney General of Lagos State and the coroner, Mr. Oyetade Komolafe.

It will be recalled that 116 lives of Nigerians and foreigners were lost in a building collapse disaster at the Synagogue Church on September 12, 2014.

There were local and international calls for a thorough investigation and possible prosecution to give justice to the victims.

After over a year of legal twists and turns initiated by the Synagogue Church, the Coroner’s inquest into the building collapse disaster delivered a ruling which amongst other things indicted the Synagogue Church of all Nations for criminal negligence and recommended that it be prosecuted.

Shortly after the Coroner’s verdict, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode, pledged to enforce the verdict to the letter vowing to seek justice for the victims of the disaster no matter the circumstances.

He ordered the law enforcement agencies to immediately arrest the indicted persons and enforce the verdict.

But in a move to forestall the enforcement, the indicted engineers approached the court seeking the enforcement of their fundamental human rights to fair hearing, human dignity and personal liberty as provided under Sections 34, 35 and 36 of the Constitution

They claim that the Nigerian Police, Council of Registered Engineers of Nigeria (COREN) and the Lagos State Government (Respondents) will act upon the Coroner’s findings by proceeding to arrest, investigate and/or prosecute them for criminal negligence.

The plaintiffs had in their motion on notice, sought among other prayers, a declaration that “the findings and recommendations of the 4th respondent as contained in the 4th respondent’s verdict dated 8th July, 2015 as they relate to the applicants’ indictment for prosecution for criminal negligence and recommendation for prosecution for criminal negligence are invalid, null and void and of no effect, whatsoever.”

They are also urging the court to declare that the Lagos CP lack the power to act on the Coroner’s verdict to investigate or prosecute them. They asked for a perpetual injunction restraining the Lagos State Attorney General or any officer under his authority from initiating or commencing criminal proceedings against the applicants on the basis of the findings and recommendations of the coroner.

The indicted engineers are therefore seeking for a nullification of the Coroner’s verdict, perpetual injunction restraining the Nigerian Police from arresting or interrogating them, perpetual injunction restraining COREN from causing them to appear before any investigatory or disciplinary panel.

The Lagos State government has filed a counter affidavit and preliminary objections to the suit contending amongst other things that Synagogue Church were granted audience at the Coroner’s Court and availed the opportunity of tendering their depositions and making oral evidence and that the Coroner did not issue a “judicial indictment” on the applicants but made recommendations that the applicants be investigated and if found culpable, prosecuted for criminal negligence.

Lagos State also filed a Notice of Preliminary Objection on grounds that the Synagogue’s Engineers’ complaints are a challenge to the Coroner’s verdict and not for the enforcement of their fundamental human rights and the court lacks the jurisdiction to adjudicate over the suit since the respondents are not agencies of the federal government.

Meanwhile, sources at the Lagos State Ministry of Justice disclosed that in line with Governor Ambode’s pledge to the citizens, the government would pursue the enforcement of the Coroners verdict until its logical conclusion to ensure the victims of the disaster get justice.

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