A Lagos High Court Sitting in the Igbosere area of Lagos Island has dismissed the “no-case submission” filed by the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations and two engineers involved in the collapse of a six-storey building belonging to the church.
On September 12, 2014, the building belonging to the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed in the Ikotun area of Lagos killing a total of 116 persons, most of whom were South Africans visiting Nigeria on religious tourism.
After the building collapsed, the Lagos State Government sued the church and the two engineers, Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun who were involved in the construction of the building alongside their companies — Hardrock Construction & Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd.
The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions said that the defendants violated Section 75 of the Urban and Regional Planning Law of Lagos State 2010 as well as Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
After a coroners verdict which recommended that the church should be prosecuted for failing to obtain necessary approval before embarking on the construction of the building, and that the two structural engineers be prosecuted for criminal negligence, the defendants were arraigned on April 19, 2016, but they pleaded ‘not guilty.’
The State Government subsequently opened its case, called witnesses and tendered documents to prove the allegations against the defendants.
However upon closing its case in October 2017, the defendants, rather than enter their defence, filed a ‘no-case’ submission, contending that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them.
The defendants insisted there was nothing in the evidence by the prosecution to require that they enter any defence.
They, therefore, urged the court to discharge them.
The prosecution opposed the no-case submission and argued that the defendants had a case to answer, based on the evidence of all the prosecution witnesses.
At the resumed hearing on Thursday, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo dismissed the no-case submission filed by the defendants and held that a prima facie case had been made which required them to make certain explanations.
He then adjourned the case until April 27 for the defendants to open their case.
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