Synagogue: Absence of defendants stalls arraignment
The arraignment of Registered Trustees of Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) and four others over the Sept. 12, 2014 building collapse which claimed 116 lives was on Monday adjourned till Dec. 11.
Senior Pastor of the church, Prophet T.B Joshua, is one of the trustees.
Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of an Ikeja High Court adjourned the case due to the absence of four out of the five defendants in court on Monday.
The defendants are the Registered Trustees of Synagogue Church of All Nation (SCOAN), Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company, Jadny Trust Limited, Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Lagos State Government had filed charges against them following the July 8 judgment of the Coroner’s Inquest which indicted the church and its engineers over the building collapse.
At the proceedings on Monday, the judge observed that the second, third, fourth and fifth defendants were not in court to take their pleas.
The prosecuting counsel and Lagos State Attorney- General, Mr Adeniji Kazeem, told the court that some of them were yet to be served.
“We confirmed that Synagogue Trustees and the Hardrock Construction Company have been served.
“The other defendants in the matter could not be served because their addresses are not valid,” Kazeem said.
Counsel to the first and second defendants, Mr Oluseun Abimbola, said the defendants were absent because of the non-service of the charge by the prosecution.
He said: “The state cannot say that they do not have valid addresses because they were served in previous proceedings.
“The engineers, Ogundeji and Fatiregun, were even arrested by the Police and charged before a magistrate court where they were later released on bail.”
After listening to both counsel, Akapo advised the defence counsel to remind the defendants that the matter was a criminal one which was sensitive.
“Service in any proceeding is fundamental and anything done outside of this is a nullity.
“The defence counsel is hereby directed to oblige the prosecution team with valid addresses of the third, fourth and fifth defendants within 72 hours,” Akapo said.