Synagogue Church: Remanded Engineers to Remain in Kirikiri Prison

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Akinwale Akintunde
The two engineers who constructed the collapsed six-storey guest house belonging to the Synagogue Church of all Nation (SCOAN),  Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun are to remain in Kirikiri Maximum Prison till May 3 when the court will rule on their bail applications.

Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo had last week remanded the duo in prison after they were  arraigned with their companies, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company; and Jandy Trust Limited alongside the Trustees of the Synagogue Church of all Nation (SCOAN).

The defendants were arraigned before an Ikeja High Court on 111-count criminal charges bordering on criminal negligence, manslaughter and failure to obtain building permit preferred against them by the Lagos State Government for their involvement in the September 12, 2014 collapse of a six-storey guest house belonging to the church, which led to the death of 116 persons.

When the matter came up yesterday, Mrs. Titi Akinlawon (SAN), counsel to Fatiregun, arguing the bail application dated April 19, 2016 brought pursuant to Section 115 of Section 2 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law, submitted that the “offences committed by the defendant is a bailable offences.”

She promised that the defendants would not jump bail.
“The fifth defendant has been charged for the same offences before at the magistrates’ court and he did not jump bail; he presented himself at all times. Prior to when he was granted bail by the magistrates’ court, he was granted police bail and he always presented himself. So if granted bail now, he will also not jump bail,” she submitted.

Mr. Olalekan Ojo, counsel to Ogundeji  also told the court that “granting him bail will put him (defendant) in best position to prepare for his trial.

“The case of the prosecution is founded on gross negligence, it will collapse or succeed on the strength of experts’ opinion and it is not pertinent for anyone to state the evidence is overwhelming on technical issues.

“Because of the technical nature of the evidence, there is need for the fourth defendant to be on bail to liaise with experts to build his defence.

“He cannot do this while on remand at the Kirikiri Maximum Prisons.”
However, the prosecution counsel and Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mrs. Idowu Alakija, urged the court not to grant the defendants bail.

She argued that while the court has the discretion to grant bail or not, ‘the 4th defendant (Ogundeji) does not have an address within the jurisdiction of the court and therefore may jump bail if granted.’
The court therefore adjourned ruling till May 3 while the defendants returned to prison.