Despite efforts by a Lagos State coroner to formally question Pastor T.B. Joshua regarding the collapse of his Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) in December, the Pastor and his cartel of attorneys seem ardent on scuttling the inquest.
One of the church's counsels, Olalekan Ojo, informed the coroner, Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, that SCOAN and Joshua have filed a prohibition suit before a Lagos High Court to be presided by Justice Lateefa Okunnu. The suit comes after a similar one had failed earlier at the Federal High Court in the State.
New attempts to have the inquest stopped seem motivated by the coroner’s promise that T.B. Joshua would be jailed for avoiding a mandated appearance in court. Church attorneys allegedly filed the suit with the notion that the Coroner has exceeded his jurisdiction.
The suit, signed by one O.M. Abimbola, cited Order 40 Rule 5 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure Rules) 2012, is seeking an order of prohibition against the Coroner. The suit lists Coroner's Court of Lagos State and the Magistrate, Oyetade Komolafe, as respondents.
Marked ID/188MJR/2014, the suit is urging the High Court to issue "Order of Certiorari" to quash the proceedings by the 1st and 2nd respondents, made to find the cause of death of 166 persons in the 12th September building collapse at the Synagogue Church in Ikotun area of Lagos State.
Although the coroner had emphasized many times that the inquest is not meant to prosecute T.B. Joshua, the new suit claims that the invitation extended to T.B. Joshua is a breach of his right to fair hearing.
"A declaration that the coroner who relied on extraneous matters not borne out of the records to reach his conclusion that the 2nd applicant is a necessary witness when in fact is not, is in breach of the rules of natural justice and fair hearing guaranteed by the 1999 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria," the suit stated.
Among other relieves, the suit is seeking;
"An order prohibiting the coroner from conducting further inquest/proceedings relating to the construction of the collapsed building which facts are clearly outside the scope of a coroner's inquest.
"An order quashing the proceedings of the coroner's inquest in its entirety for being conducted in breach of the rule of natural justice, likelihood of blade, and for taking proceedings clearly outside the scope of the jurisdiction of the respondent.
"An order prohibiting the respondent from insisting on the personal attendance of the 2nd applicant as such will be without or in excess of jurisdiction, unconstitutional and unlawful.
"An order of injunction to restrain the respondents as presently constituted from further conducting any inquest into the collapsed building of Synagogue Church of All Nations, as the 2nd respondent has demonstrated personal interest in the subject matter and his neutrality clearly compromised.
"An order of injunction restraining coroner from taking and continuing to take evidence/proceedings on the issue of approval and construction of the collapsed building, which issues are clearly outside the scope of a coroner's inquest."
The coroner, Oyetade Komolafe, said he had not been served concerning the suit, and was therefore not aware of it. He subsequently adjourned sitting to 3rd of December.
Prior to the revelation of a new suit seeking to stop the inquest today, representatives of the Standard Organization of Nigeria (SON) insisted that the material samples they took from the collapsed building allude to poor for construction of the building as a principal cause of the tragedy.
SON representatives also said their inability to find the building’s contractor has hampered their investigation as they could not ascertain the material sources, building plan, or much-needed other relevant information.