The Lagos State Coroners’ Court sitting in Ikeja, presided over by Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, yesterday commenced sitting on inquiry into death of over 100 persons in a collapsed building of the Synagogue Church of All Nations on September 12, 2014 in Ikotun area of the state.
At the commencement of the hearing, counsel to the church, Mr. Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), expressed condolences to the families of the victims and the government of South Africa, adding that the inquest would serve as a way forward towards ensuring that future occurences are forestalled.
He said: “The issues involved are multi-dimensional and many witnesses are involved. I humbly want to suggest before your honour that frontloading of processes should be encouraged.
“Synagogue will bring additional witnesses so that nobody would be caught unaware.”
The senior lawyer thereafter prayed the court to allow more time for lawyers to prepare their witnesses.
Other lawyers in the matter aligned themselves with the position of the SAN with the Lagos State government lawyer, Akingbolahan Adeniran, insisting that his team was ready to proceed.
However, the coroner judge therefore said that the court would not sacrifice justice on alter of expediency.
He said that the court would pay an on-the-spot visit to the church on Thursday in furtherance of its fact-findings on the collapsed building.
He also called for co-operation from the South African embassy here in Nigeria, with a request that it should compel family members of victims to donate blood for the purpose of conducting a proper DNA test.
Komolafe admonished lawyers in the matter to join hands with the court in order to ensure speedy hearing into the inquest, saying: “The court is not here to convict anybody, we are here to find facts, we are not accusing anybody, neither are we convicting anybody for doing anything. We are brothers and not enemies.”
He said the court would not hesitate to issue warrant for the arrest of anyone who fails to appear before it for the purposes of testifying so as to help the court reach a reasonable conclusion. The Guardian