A Lagos State High Court in Ikeja on Monday fixed February 18, 2016 for the arraignment of the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, founded by Prophet T.B. Joshua.
The defendants were charged before Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo on one count of building without the approval of the Lagos State Government.
The said building collapsed on September 12, 2014 leading to the death of 116 persons.
Also to be arraigned on 110 counts of involuntary manslaughter are the two engineers who built the collapsed building, Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun.
Justice Lawal-Akapo fixed the arraignment date on Monday after he dismissed an application by the engineers challenging the manner by which the charge sheet was served on them.
The engineers had also described the charge filed against them by Lagos State Government as an abuse of court processes, saying Justice Ibrahim Buba of Federal High Court in Lagos had on December 2,2016 restrained the state Attorney General from prosecuting them pending an appeal they filed at the Court of Appeal.
But in his ruling on Monday, Justice Lawal-Akapo dismissed the application for lacking in merit.
The judge affirmed the argument of the Lagos State, through its Director Public Prosecutions, Mrs. Idowu Alakija that the engineers were properly served with the charge sheet by substituted means.
Justice Lawal-Akapo discountenanced the order granted the engineers on December 2, 2015 by Justice Buba, restraining the Lagos State Attorney General prosecuting pending their appeal.
Justice Lawal-Akapo said both the Lagos State and the Federal High Courts were courts of coordinate jurisdiction, stressing that Justice Buba’s order could not stop the proceedings before him.
He held, “The order of a high court cannot be binding on another high court, be it federal or state because they are both courts of coordinate jurisdictions.
“The order of Buba J. cannot bind this court and cannot stop these proceedings.
“I find no merit in the two applications and they hereby dismissed.”
The engineers and the Registered Trustees of SCOAN had on July 8, 2015 been implicated over the collapsed six-story building by a Lagos State Coroner Court, presided by Mr. Oyetade Komolafe.
As opposed to the defendants’ argument that the building was sabotaged, Komolafe, had linked the collapse to structural failure.
He had therefore recommended that the church be investigated and prosecuted for building without the state’s approval.
He also recommended that the engineers be investigated and prosecuted for criminal negligence for the death of the 116 persons who perished in the collapsed building.
The state in its argument, however, said it is not prosecuting the church and the engineers based on the coroner’s verdict but the investigation carried out by the police.