Coroner Refuses TB Joshua Appeal To Suspend Inquest



The coroner probing the
September 12 Synagogue building collapse, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe, has
dismissed an application seeking a temporary suspension of the inquest.
Komolafe, while dismissing the application, described it as an abuse of court processes.
The founder of the
Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) Prophet T.B. Joshua, filed the
application asking Komolafe to put on hold further inquisition into the
cause of death of the victims of the collapsed building.
No fewer than 116 persons lost their lives many more sustained varying degrees of injuries in the tragic incident.
Joshua’s application for stay
of proceedings dated November 11, 2014 came on the heels of an
application he had filed before a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja.
In the said application before
Justice Lateefat Okunnu, Joshua asked for a judicial review of the
coroner’s proceedings, which began on October 13.
Among others, he had asked the
High Court to determine whether the witness summons served on him to
appear before the coroner to give testimony was not a violation of his
right.
He further contested that the coroner had been extending his inquisitions into areas beyond its statutory purview.
According to Joshua’s lawyer,
Mr. Olalekan Ojo, the duty of the coroner was limited to determining
what killed the victims of the collapsed building and nothing more.
Ojo argued that it was beyond
the scope of the coroner to delve into the questions of what was
responsible for the collapse of the building itself.
According to Ojo, it was not
the duty of the coroner to inquire into issues bordering on building
approval, soil and/or material tests of the collapsed building.
He had therefore asked the coroner to suspend further inquisitions till when Justice Okunnu will rule on the issues raised.
Ruling on Joshua’s application on Wednesday, Komolafe held that it was an abuse of court processes.
The coroner said that since
there were no parties such as applicants and respondents or plaintiffs
and defendants in the coroner’s court but only witnesses and interested
parties, Joshua had no premise upon which to bring the application for
stay of proceedings.
Komolafe added that granting such request would amount to him acting beyond his statutory power.
The coroner held further that
the application for stay of proceeding did not conform with Order 40
Rule 6 of the Lagos State Civil Procedural Rules, 2012.
The coroner upheld the argument
of Lagos State Government that filing an application before a higher
court did not automatically amount to an order to stay proceedings at
the lower court.
Komolafe held, “From the order
made by the High Court of Lagos State, there is no part wherein it was
stated that the proceedings of the coroner should be stayed as provided
for under Rule 40 Order 6, paragraph (a) of Lagos State Civil Procedural
Rule, 2012.
“It is for this reason of
avoiding this kind of abuse of processes of the court that the lawmakers
provided for Order 40 Rule 6, paragraph (a) of the High Court of Lagos
State Civil Procedural Rules, 2012 for cases of judicial review.”
Komolafe held that if Justice
Okunnu had intended to give an order to restrain the proceedings of the
coroner court, she would have done it at the point when she gave Joshua
the leave to ask for a judicial review of coroner’s inquest.
He therefore adjourned till Friday, December 12, 2014 to proceed with the inquest.

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