By Lawrence Audu
A High Court in sitting in Igbosere, Lagos has dismissed the no-case submission filed by the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) and the two engineers involved in the six-storey guesthouse that collapsed and killed 116 people, including 85 South Africans on 12 September, 2014.
The Lagos State Government had sued the church over the building.
The engineers – Ms Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun – were charged alongside their companies — Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd.
They are facing 110-count charge of involuntary manslaughter while the registered trustees of SCOAN were charged with one count of building without approval.
The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions accused the defendants of violating 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.
They were arraigned on April 19, 2016, but they pleaded ‘not guilty’.
The prosecution subsequently opened its case, called witnesses and tendered documents to prove the allegations against the defendants.
However, upon the close of the prosecution’s 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 defence insisted there was nothing in the evidence by the prosecution to warrant their client to proceed into any defence.
They, therefore, urged the court to discharge the defendants.
However, 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.
The prosecution maintained that a prima facie case had been established which the defendants must defend.
At the resumed hearing on Thursday, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, dismissed the no-case submission filed by the defendants.
He adjourned the case until April 27 for the defence to open its case.