Court dismisses Synagogue Engineers’ application

Eniola Ajayi, Lagos

A Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja has dismissed two applications seeking to stop the prosecution of the two engineers who constructed the collapsed six-storey building at the Synagogue Church of All Nations in Ikotun area of Lagos.

The two engineers and their companies had filed separate applications challenging the competence of the manner with which the criminal charge was served on them.

The defendants through their lawyers – Mr E.L. Akpofure and Mrs Titi Akinlawon both Senior Advocates of Nigeria, had contended that the order permitting the criminal charge to be served on them by substituted means was wrongfully granted by Justice Lawal Akapo.

Justice Akapo had on December 11, 2015 granted an application by the prosecution to serve the engineers through substituted means by pasting the court processes on the front doors of their residential houses in the Alagbado and Ikeja areas of Lagos.

Their lawyers had argued that in the absence of a valid service, everything done by the court would amount to a nullity.

However, in his ruling, Justice Akapo said that the law made provision for substituted service in processes of criminal proceeding, hence the service is legal.

On the prayer by the engineers asking for an order restraining the Lagos State Attorney General or any officer under his authority from initiating or commencing criminal proceedings against them, Justice Akapo held that the Constitution of Nigeria made provision for the Attorney General to prosecute without his power being curtained, except for abuse of process.

The court ruled that there was no evidence of any abuse of process before the court in the case and that there was nothing to suggest that the applicants were being prosecuted before another court in relation to same matter.

“I therefore find no merit in the two applications and they are accordingly dismissed,” Justice Akapo ruled.

The court adjourned till February 18, 2016 for arraignment of the defendant

Justice Akapo had on Thursday last week fixed the 19th of this month for ruling on a fresh application filed by the Registered Trustees of Synagogue Church, challenging the verdict of Coroner’s Inquest which indicted the church and recommended the trustees for prosecution.

The collapse of the building, which occurred on September 12, 2014, led to the death of 116 persons.