A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has awarded a fine of N25, 000 against Prophet T.B. Joshua, the Founder of Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) for “deliberately stalling hearing” in a suit he filed against a Lagos coroner, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe.
Justice Lateefa Okunnu, who awarded the cost on Tuesday, berated the prophet for “wasting the time of the court and tax payers’ money.”
According to her, the matter, which was filed in December, last year, had been bogged down with several adjournments at the instance of Joshua.
Okunnu’s order followed the announcement by Joshua’s lawyer, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), that his client had filed two fresh applications before the court in relation to the case.
“We filed two processes yesterday. One is a motion and the other one is the applicant’s consolidated reply on points of law,” Fagbemi said.
Responding, however, counsel for the Lagos State Government, Mr. Karmardeen Bakare, said he had only just been served with the said processes in court that morning.
The state counsel said it would be impossible for him to go on with the case in the circumstance as he needed time to look at the fresh applications and reply appropriately.
He therefore urged the court for an adjournment.
But Okunnu frowned at the development, as she said it was clear that the day’s proceeding had been hampered by Joshua’s fresh applications.
While reluctantly conceding to the prayer for an adjournment till February 20, Okunnu, however, awarded a N25,000 cost against Joshua.
The judge said the order must be complied with before the next adjourned date, while Joshua was to file an affidavit of compliance as evidence.
The prophet had approached Okunnu asking for a judicial review of the coroner’s inquest into the death of about 116 persons in a building collapse at the SCOAN premises on September 12, 2014.
The coroner’s inquest, which commenced on October 13, last year had the mandate to determine the cause of death of the victims, most of whom were South Africans.
But Joshua, in his application before Okunnu, asked the judge to determine whether the witness summons served on him to appear personally before the coroner was not a breach of his right to fair hearing.
He had also argued, through his lawyer, Fagbemi, that the coroner had been extending the inquest into areas outside his jurisdiction.
According to Fagbemi, the duty of the coroner was limited to determining the cause of death of the victims. Fagbemi said the coroner had no legal backing to look into the possible factors responsible for the collapse of the six-storey guest house wherein the victims lost their lives.
He therefore asked the court to declare as null and void such portion of the coroner’s inquest conducted in excess of jurisdiction, in addition to an order restraining the coroner from further acting in excess of his power.
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