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T.B. Joshua Asks Court to Void Coroner’s Invitation

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The Founder, Synagogue Church Of All Nations, Prophet T.B. Joshua, has lodged an appeal against the judgment of a Lagos State High Court validating the invitation served on him to appear before a Lagos coroner, Magistrate O. A. Komolafe.
Komolafe is the coroner conducting an inquest into the manner and circumstances surrounding the death of about 116 persons that perished when a six-storey building belonging to the church collapsed on September 12, last year.
The coroner, whose inaugural sitting was on October 13, last year, had invited, among several other witnesses, Joshua to come and testify so as to assist him in his inquest.
However, Joshua, who considered the coroner’s invitation as a breach of his fundamental right to fair hearing, approached Justice Lateefa Okunnu, seeking a judicial review of the coroner’s inquest.
Apart from challenging the witness summons served on him, he also accused the magistrate of conducting the inquest in a biased manner against him and the church.
In addition, Joshua’s lawyers, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN) and Mr. Olalekan Ojo, also contended that the coroner had no authority to inquire into the direct cause of the building collapse.
The lawyers argued that all that the coroner was required to do was to determine the direct cause of the victims’ death.
But ruling on the application last week Friday, Okunnu held that the witness summons served on Joshua was in order.
The judge also said the coroner had the latitude to call for any material evidence, including what brought about the building collapse, no matter how remote, that would assist him in determining the cause of the victims’ death.
But at the resumed proceeding of the inquest on Thursday, a lawyer from the SCOAN’s legal team, Seun Abimbola, told the coroner that Joshua would not appear just yet as he had urged the Lagos Division of the Court of Appeal to upturn Okunnu’s judgment.
Abimbola’s submission came just as Komolafe requested that a date should be picked for Joshua’s appearance to testify.
“Your Honour, there’s a pending appeal against the judgment of the high court,” Abimbola said.
Meanwhile, the coroner had indicated his intention to do everything possible to wrap up the inquest soon.
The proceeding continued on Thursday with the testimony of a deputy director at the Lagos State Ministry of Works, Engineer Tunde Lasoju.
Lasoju, who is of the Planning and Design Department of the the Lagos State Ministry of Works, informed the coroner that his physical assessment of the foundation of the collapsed building revealed no sign of stress.
“The foundation of the collapsed guest house did not show any form of punching or shearing,” Lasoju submitted.
But a witness from the Council for the Regulation of Engineers in Nigeria, Engineer Victor Oyenuga, said that the conclusion of the COREN’s team that investigated the collapsed building was that the building failed due to undersized foundation and weak columns.

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