A Federal High Court in Lagos Wednesday [Jul 22] temporarily restrained the Lagos State Government from implementing the recommendations of Coroner Inquest which ordered the criminal prosecution of two structural engineers for the September 12, 2014 building collapse at Synagogue Church of All Nations which claimed about 116 lives.
The Coroner court headed by Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, had on July 8, 2015 indicted the two structural engineers to whom the collapsed six-storey building was contracted, Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun of criminal negligence and recommended them for criminal prosecution by Lagos State. Komolafe had equally recommended the church for prosecution.
Upon the receipt of the coroner’s verdict, the state governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, had disclosed the readiness of the state to implement the recommendations including filing criminal charges against the church and the two engineers. But Ogundeji and Fatiregun, through their lawyer, Olalekan Ojo, appeared yesterday before Justice Mohammed Idris of the Federal High Court in Lagos with ex-parte applications seeking to restrain the police from inviting or arresting them for questioning.
They specifically filed two separate suits numbered FHC/L/CS/1095/15 and FHC/L/CS/1096/15.
Ojo, while seeking the protection of the court for the engineers, disclosed that the police had been after them, claiming that their constitutional rights to dignity and personal liberty, enshrined in Sections 34 and 35 of the Constitution, were at stake as they could no longer move about freely. The lawyer said the move to arrest the engineers on July 16 followed the fundamental rights enforcement action that they filed against the respondents on July 15, challenging the coroner’s verdict.
He said arresting the engineers in the face of the pending suits would occasion injustice, saying they had raised serious issues awaiting determination by the court. Following Ojo’s argument, the judge ordered all the parties to maintain status quo pending the determination of the applicants’ motions on notice.
By implication, the judge has temporarily restrained the arrest and prosecution of the church and the engineers. The court then adjourned till August 3, 2015 for hearing.