Synagogue Collapsed Building Trial Fails to Resume Again

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Akinwale Akintunde

For the second time wednesday, the trial of Trustees of the Synagogue Church of all Nation (SCOAN) and the two engineers involved in the construction of the collapsed six-storey guesthouse which left over 116 dead failed to start as scheduled due to late filing of additional proof of evidence by the prosecution.

The SCOAN trustees, the two engineers, Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun and their companies, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited were last month arraigned on 111-count charge for their involvement in the September 12, 2014 collapse of a six-storey guesthouse belonging to the church, which led to the death of 116 persons.

The 111 charges preferred against the defendants by the Lagos State Government borders on criminal negligence, manslaughter and failure to obtain building permit.

Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo had in his ruling last week directed the prosecution led by Mrs. Idowu Alakija, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to furnish the defence with the statement of the prosecution witness, Adebayo Musiliu Olayinka, who was not allowed to testify before the court by the defence counsel.

Lead defence counsel, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), had objected to the witness giving evidence, stating that his witness statement was not forwarded to the defence team as stipulated by law.

Fagbemi had argued that in criminal proceeding, the proper practice is for the prosecuting team to serve the defence with list of witnesses and their statement.

He stated that among the eight witnesses listed by the state prosecuting counsel, one three had the witness statement front load and served on the defence team.

Justice Lawal-Akapo in his ruling, upheld the argument of the defence and insisted that the witness statement should be filed and served on them.

He subsequently adjourned the matter till June 1, 2016 (yesterday) for trial to begin.
At yesterday’s proceedings, Mrs. Alakija informed the court that the state had filed the additional proof of evidence, which was served on the defence team yesterday morning.

The DPP also informed the court that the prosecution witnesses, Adebayo Musiliu Olayinka, was in court and was ready to testify.

The defence team led by Fagbemi confirmed that the additional proof of evidence had been served on them but they would need time to study the documents since it was only served them yesterday morning.
For this reason, the judge adjourned the trial again till June 3, 2016.