The trial of the Trustees of the Synagogue Church of all Nation (SCOAN) and the two engineers involved in the construction of the collapsed six-storey guest house that left over 116 dead could not go on again, on Wednesday, as scheduled, due to a late filing of additional proof of evidence by the prosecution.
The SCOAN Trustees, the two engineers, Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun and their companies – Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited – were, last month, arraigned on a 111-count charge for their involvement in the September 12, 2014 collapse of a six-storey guest house belonging to the church, which led to the death of 116 persons.
The Lagos State Government had preferred the charges, which bordered on criminal negligence, manslaughter and failure to obtain building permit against the defendants.
In his ruling last week, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo directed the prosecution, led by Mrs. Idowu Alakija, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), to furnish the defence with the statement of the prosecution witness, Adebayo Musiliu Olayinka, who was not allowed to testify before the court by the defence counsel.
Lead defence counsel, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), had objected to the witness giving evidence, stating that his witness statement was not forwarded to the defence team as stipulated by law.
In his argument, Fagbemi said the proper practice in criminal proceeding was for the prosecuting team to serve the defence with list of witnesses and their statement.
After listening to both counsels, Justice Lawal-Akapo ruled and upheld the argument of the defence and insisted that the witness statement should be filed and served on them.
He subsequently adjourned the matter till June 1, 2016 (yesterday) for trial to begin.
At yesterday’s proceedings, Alakija informed the court that the state had filed the additional proof of evidence, which was served on the defence team in the morning.
The DPP also informed the court that the prosecution witnesses, Adebayo Musiliu Olayinka, was in court and was ready to testify.
Fagbemi confirmed that the additional proof of evidence had been served on them but they needed time to study the documents.
Fagbemi again objected that the witness could not testify until they (defence) finished studying the additional documents and urged the court to give them time to study it so as to be able to cross examine the witness well.