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Synagogue Building Collapse: Lagos Court Remands 2 Engineers In Prison

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The two engineers, who constructed the collapsed seven-storey guest house of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), were on Tuesday remanded at Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, Lagos.

An Ikeja High Court which gave the ruling, said the men should be kept behind bars until when the charges would be determined.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the engineers — Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun — had pleaded not guilty to a 111-count charge bordering on gross negligence and criminal manslaughter.

Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo said:“The defendants are remanded in Kirikiri Maximum Prisons pending the determination of the charge.’’

The prosecution led by Mrs Idowu Alakija, the Director, Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), said the defendants committed the offences between Aug. 20 and September 2013.

According to her, the defendants constructed a seven-storey building at the church in Ikotun-Egbe in Ikotun area of Lagos with disregard for human lives.

NAN also reports that the collapsed guest house had on Sept. 12, 2014, led to the death of 116 persons, 85 of who were South Africans.

The Coroner’s Inquest instituted by the Lagos State Government had in its verdict on July 8, 2015 said the building collapse was caused by structural failure due to a combination of designs and detailing errors.

The inquest ordered that Synagogue church be investigated and prosecuted by the relevant authorities for not possessing necessary building permits, while the two engineers should be tried for criminal negligence.

The arraignment of the defendants by the Lagos State Government had been continuously stalled by the Defence through several adjournments and filing of various applications before the court.

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Earlier at Tuesday’s proceedings, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo dismissed two seperate applications of Mrs Titi Akinlawon (SAN) and Chief E.L. Akpofure (SAN).

Akinlawon had in an application dated March 3 asked for an order adjourning further hearing pending the determination of her application at the Court of Appeal.

Akpofure also in an application dated Feb. 17 objected to the inclusion of Jandy Trust Ltd as one of the defendants because there was nothing in the proof of evidence linking the company to the crimes.

Lawal-Akapo in his ruling said:”Section 273 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law states that subject to the constitution, an application for a stay of proceedings in respect of a criminal matter before the High Court should not be entertained.”

On the proposed exclusion of JandyTrust Ltd from the charge, the judge said:“The court cannot delve into substantive issues at the interlocutory stage thereby outraging the sense of justice of an independent observer sitting in court.”

“I find no merit in the two applications, they are lacking in merit and substance.

“This is a clear case of abuse of court processes to the irritation and annoyance of the court.”

The judge immediately ordered the arraignment of Fatiregun, Ogundeji and the trustees of the church in spite of opposition from the Defence.

The case was adjourned to April 26 for hearing of the defendants’ bail applications. (NAN)

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