The scheduled arraignment of the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations, founded by Prophet T.B. Joshua, was further stalled on Friday due to the prosecution’s failure to serve the court processes on the 4th and 5th defendants in the case.
The defendants were charged with 111 counts of manslaughter and building without approval in connection with the death of 116 persons in the collapsed SCOAN’s six-storey building on September 12, 2014.
Charged alongside the Registered Trustees of SCOAN are Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company; Jandy Trust Limited; and two engineers, Mr. Oladele Ogundeji and Mr. Akinbela Fatiregun, who constructed the collapsed building.
The trial judge, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo of a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja, had on November 30 directed the service of the charge on the 3rd, 4th and 5th defendants and adjourned till Friday for the arraignment.
But at the resumed proceedings on Friday, the prosecution, led by the Lagos State Director of Public Prosecutions, Mrs. Idowu Alakija, said it found it impossible to effect service on the engineers despite being supplied with their addresses by one of the defence counsel, Mr. Oluseun Abimbola.
Alakija consequently informed the court that the prosecution had filed an ex parte application seeking for an order of substituted service on the engineers.
After she canvassed argument in support of the application, Justice Lawal-Akapo granted it and ordered the court’s sheriff to paste the court processes on the front doors of the defendants’ addresses in the Alagbado and Ikeja areas of Lagos, respectively.
The judge ordered the prosecution to file photographic evidence featuring the sheriff pasting the court papers at the addresses of the engineers.
By the consent of all the parties, the judge adjourned the matter till January 19, 2016.
Earlier at the proceedings, the counsel for SCOAN, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), who led 17 other lawyers, had informed the court that his client had an application challenging the court’s jurisdiction and seeking to quash the charges.
He had argued that it was important for the court to entertain the application before doing any other thing.
But the judge, in a short ruling, said he had noted the application and would hear it at the appropriate time, adding that the fundamental issue of service had to first be settled.