The two engineers who were in charge of the construction of the collapsed six-story guest house at the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) have been arraigned alongside their companies before an Ikeja High Court.
This Day reports that Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo ordered their arraignment after dismissing separate applications filed by the defendants through their counsel seeking to stay proceedings of the High Court pending their appeal at the Court of Appeal.
The judge also remanded the two engineers, Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, in Kirikiri Maximum Prison.
The Lagos State Government had, late last year, filed a 111-count criminal charge against the trustees of the church, the two engineers, and their companies – Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited – 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.
The defendants had deployed several tactics including filing for a stay of proceedings to stall their arraignment. However, Justice Lawal-Akapo in his ruling said: “Section 273 of the Administration of Criminal Justice Act (ACJA) states that subject to the constitution, an application for a stay of proceedings in respect of a criminal matter before the High Court should not be entertained before the court.
“I find no merit in the two applications, they are lacking in merit and substance. This is a clear case of abuse of court processes to the irritation and annoyance of the court.”
After the judges ruling, the lead counsel representing the defendants made several attempts to convince the court not to proceed with the arraignment which were all overruled by the judge who then and ordered that the charges be read to the accused persons.
The case was adjourned to April 26 for hearing of the defendants’ bail applications.
The 111-count charge brought against the defendants borders on criminal negligence, manslaughter and failure to obtain a building permit.
Leave your views in comments box below.