The two contractors indicted by the Coroner’s Inquest over the collapse of the six-storey guest house at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) — Oladele Ogundele and Akinbola Fatiregun, — on Tuesday at an Ikeja High Court challenged the legality of the court processes served on them by the Lagos State Government.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the guest house located within the precincts of the church collapsed on Sept. 12, 2014 killing 116 persons, 85 of whom 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.
It ordered that Synagogue church should be investigated and proceeded against by the relevant authorities for not possessing necessary building permits while the two contractors which handled the building should be tried for criminal negligence.
NAN also reports that the Lagos State Government had filed a 111-count criminal charge against trustees of the church including Pastor T.B. Joshua and the two contractors.
Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of an Ikeja High Court, had in December 2015, ordered that the Lagos State Government should serve the contractors through substituted means after several attempts to serve them were unsuccessful.
At Tuesday’s hearing, counsel to the contractors Mr E.L Akpofure (SAN), told the court that the prosecution erred by pasting the court processes at the entrance of the of the homes of the contractors a day to the hearing instead of the three days as stipulated by law.
Akpofure said “The manner of service by way of substitution is spelt out by the law. The manner of service of the processes executed by the Lagos State Government is a nullity.”
The prosecution, led by Mrs Idowu Alakija, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), however, requested that the contractors should be arraigned immediately.
She said: “My Lord, I hereby ask for the immediate arraignment of the defendants for criminal negligence in the collapse of the building.”
Justice Lawal-Akapo, however, rejected Alakija’s request and directed the prosecution to file a response to the defendants’ application challenging the legality of the service of the court processes.
The case was adjourned to Jan. 27 for argument on the application.