The contractors that supervised the collapsed guest house owned by the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), Oladele Ogundele and Akinbola Fatiregun, on Wednesday, told the Lagos High Court sitting in Ikeja, presided over by JusticeÂ Lateef Lawal-Akapo, that the Attorney-General (AG) of Lagos State, flouted court orders by dragging them to court.
Speaking through their lawyers, Chief E.L Akpofure (SAN) and Titilola Akinlawon (SAN), the contractors insisted before Justice Lawal-Akapo that an order granted by Justice Ibrahim Buba of the Federal High Court sitting in Ikoyi, Lagos has been defied by the State Government.
According to the senior lawyers, the order of Justice Buba was that the arraignment should be put on hold pending the decision of the Appeal Court.
It would be recalled that Justice Buba had issued an order, restricting the AG, either by itself, officers, Police and or agents acting on their behalf from prosecuting or proceeding with the prosecution of the engineers on the basis of the Coroner’s verdict, pending the determination of the Appeal against the ruling of the Federal High court.
They argued that since the order is still subsisting, the state ought not to have filed the charge against them. The contractors also maintained that the state government should not have asked the court to order substituted service against them.
The contractors said; “The manner of service by way of substitution is spelled out by the law. So carrying out such service in the manner they did is a nullity.”
Responding, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Idowu Alakija, argued that the order of substituted service was brought in compliance with the law and the service was effected properly.
Alakija also noted that the order of Justice Buba cannot stop the proceeding of the Court. The DPP said; “the proceedings have commenced in this court before the order sought to restrain AG from prosecuting them was granted by Justice Buba. The order cannot stop the proceeding.”
Drawing the attention of Justice Lawal-Akapo to Section 350 of the Administration of Criminal Justice, Law of Lagos State 2011, Alakija insisted that the information was not filed based on the verdict of the Coroner Inquest.
The DPP further made reference to Section 211 of the 1999 Constitution upon which the AG derives its powers to institute and continue with criminal proceedings.
She said; “The 4th and 5th defendants are facing 110 count charge for Involuntary Manslaughter. The prosecution had initiated the proceeding against the 4th and 5th defendants via an information dated 11th September, 2015. While the prosecution was awaiting the assignment of the case to a trial judge, the 4th and 5th defendants filed an application for enforcement of their Fundamental Human rights and other ancillary orders praying Hon Justice I.N Buba to restrain the Attorney General, The Police etc., from investigating and or prosecuting them on the basis of the verdict and recommendations of the Coroner which inquired into the cause and circumstances surrounding the collapse of 1st defendant’s building leading to the death of 116 persons.”
The matter has been adjourned to January 8, 2016.