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Court Remands Synagogue 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 — Akinbela Fatiregun and Oladele Ogundeji — are to remain in Kirikiri Maximum Prisons till May 3, a court ruled on Tuesday.

Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of an Ikeja High Court gave the order in a ruling on their bail applications.

“Ruling is preserved for Tuesday, May 3, 2016,” Lawal-Akapo told a crowded courtroom.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the engineers were on April 26 ordered to be remanded in Kirikiri Prisons by Lawal-Akapo following their `not guilty’ plea to a 111-count charge bordering on gross negligence and criminal manslaughter.

Earlier during Tuesday’s proceedings, counsel to Fatiregun, Mrs Titi Akinlawon (SAN), in her submission before the court, promised that the defendants would not jump bail.

“The fifth defendant has been charged before at the Magistrates’ Court and he did not jump bail; he presented himself at all times.

“Prior to when he was granted bail by the magistrates’ court, he was granted police bail and he always presented himself.

“Since the entire essence of remand is for the defendant not to jump bail, the defendant going by his antecedents, has proven himself to be honourable by not jumping bail on previous occasions,” Akinlawon said.

Mr Olalekan Ojo, counsel to Ogundeji in his application before the court, said Ogundeji needed to be on bail in order to build his defence.

He said:“The case of the prosecution is founded on gross negligence, it will collapse or succeed on the strength of experts’ opinion and it is not pertinent for anyone to state the evidence is overwhelming on technical issues.

“Because of the technical nature of the evidence, there is need for the fourth defendant to be on bail to liaise with experts to build his defence.

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“He cannot do this while on remand at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons.”

However, the prosecution led by Mrs Idowu Alakija, the State Director of Public Prosecutions, noted that the court was not obliged to grant bail to the engineers.

She said:“The granting of bail is not mandatory, this court has the discretion to grant bail; but in so doing, it has to look at the facts before it.

“My Lord, both the Supreme Court and the Court of Appeal had in an avalanche of cases held that a court needs not restrict itself to matters in the affidavit, but the proofs presented in court.

“We have emphasised that Oladele Ogundeji has no address within the jurisdiction of the court.

“If this court is to grant bail, I urge the court to grant accelerated hearing without delay because we have had too many delays caused by applications presented by the defence in this case.’’

NAN also reports that the collapse of the guest house on Sept. 12, 2014 led to the deaths 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 coroner ordered that Synagogue church should be investigated and proceeded against by the relevant authorities for not possessing necessary building permits while the two engineers involved in the construction of the building should be tried for criminal negligence.

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