Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of a Lagos High Court, sitting in Igbosere, has fixed May 10, this year for the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) to open defence in an ongoing trial over the collapsed building that killed 116 persons on September 12, 2014.
The trial Judge adjourned the matter till May 10, following the absence of SCOAN Trustee’s first witness, a Police officer, who was scheduled to testify yesterday.
At the last proceedings, the trial Judge, in a ruling, dismissed SCOAN’s no-case submission on a one-count charge of building without approval and asked the church to open its defence.
However, when the case was called yesterday, SCOAN’s counsel, Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), told the court that the witness was unavailable, despite being served a subpoena commanding him to appear in court.
“The first witness was transferred to Port Harcourt; he used to be at Ikotun Egbe. The witness is necessary to lay the groundwork. In the circumstances, we cannot proceed.”
The Prosecution counsel, Jide Martins, did not object to Fagbemi’s application for adjournment, but noted that defence should have prepared another witness to testify.
While adjourning the case, Justice Lawal-Akapo said by consent of all parties, “I hereby adjourn till May 10 and 11 for the defence to open its case.”
The Lagos State Government had on April 19, 2016, arraigned SCOAN Trustees, alongside the two engineers who built the collapsed building, Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun and their companies, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited. They pleaded not guilty to all the counts preferred against them.
SCOAN Trustees is facing one-count of building without approval, while the other defendants were docked on 110 counts bordering on involuntary manslaughter.