A Lagos State High Court, on Tuesday, ordered the two engineers, who handled the construction of the collapsed seven-storey guest house of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, remanded at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons, Lagos.
Justice Lateef Lawal-Akakpo, in his ruling, the engineers are to be kept behind bars pending the determination of the charges against them.
The engineers — Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun 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 Idowu Alakija, the Director, Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP), had said the defendants committed the offences between Aug. 20 and September 2013.
She added that the defendants constructed a seven-storey building at the church in Ikotun-Egbe in Ikotun area of Lagos with disregard for human lives.
It would be recalled that Synagogue guest house which colapse on Sept. 12, 2014, led to the death of 116 persons, 85 of who were South Africans.
A Coroner’s Inquest was instituted by the Lagos State Government, which 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 judge had earlier at Tuesday’s proceedings, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo dismissed two separate applications of Titi Akinlawon (SAN) and E.L. Akpofure (SAN).
Mrs. 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.
Mr. 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.
Justice Lawal-Akapo 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”.
He also said the court could not go into issues of substantive nature at the interlocutory stage while ruling 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 also ordered the immediate arraignment of Fatiregun, Ogundeji and the trustees of the church in spite of opposition from the Defence. He subsequently adjourned to April 26 for hearing of the defendants’ bail applications.
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