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Court Dismisses SCOAN Application To Stop Coroner’s Inquest

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JUSTICE Lateefa Okunnu of Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja Friday has dismissed the application filed by the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nation (SCOAN) to stop the Coroner Court ‎from further proceedings of the inquest and inviting Joshua to appear to give evidence before the court.

Meanwhile, at the resumption on the inquest before Chief Magistrate Oyetade, a structural engineer and consultant to the Lagos State Material Testing Agency, Saheed Ariyori, said that he was not a professional in sub-soil investigations.

 He made this known while being cross-examined by counsel to SCOAN, Olalekan Ojo, adding that he did not participate in the generation of the sub-soil investigation report tendered before the court.

 The prohibition suit was instituted by the Registered Trustees of SCOAN alongside its founder, Prophet Temitope Joshua, against the Lagos State Coroners Court sitting in Ikeja, and the Chief Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe, who is presiding over the court.

The suit was brought pursuant to Order 40 Rule 5 of the High Court of Lagos State (Civil Procedure Rules) 2012 and signed by one O.M Abimbola. Joshua had prayed the court for order of prohibition, against the Coroner’s Court of Lagos State and Komolafe from exceeding their jurisdiction in the conduct of coroner’s inquest into the death of unknown persons in the collapsed building within the premises of SCOAN on September 12, 2014.

Delivering the judgment on the suit, Justice Okunnu held that Magistrate Oyetade Komolafe who presided over the coroner court acted within the ambit of the Coroner System Law.

The judge said that Section 33 of Coroner System Law 2007 empowers Komolafe to investigate as to what, when, where and how to determine the cause of death of a person.

She held that although the coroner’s court cannot be sued, the Komolafe himself could be sued in his capacity as a coroner.

According to her, the court needed to resolve the issue whether the coroner has acted contrary to the rules of natural justice by not granting the applicants a fair hearing, and whether he has exceeded the scope of a coroner’s court.

Okunnu further said that the record of proceedings placed before the court as exhibit showed that Komolafe has not exceeded her scope of jurisdiction under the law.

 She said the allegation made by the plaintiff (SCOAN) that the respondent (Komolafe) showed open bias by insisting and threatening to arrest‎ (Joshua) is a mere assumption and has no weight.

“It is well established that mere assumption should not be accepted. The coroner has the prerogative of calling witnesses who he believes will be of assistance‎ to him in his fact finding mission.

“ I do not see that it amount to threat or bias. I found that Section 34 of the law states that a coroner holding an inquest shall now be binding. Coroner can by himself summon anyone to give evidence. I believe the respondent act is within the ambit of the law from the reading of the proceeding exhibited before me.”

The presiding judge in her ruling, which lasted for an hour, said the application placed‎ before the court is premature and the applicant failed to prove it. “The application is failed in its entirety and hereby dismissed.”



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