The Igbosere High Court on Thursday declared that the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) involved in the collapsed six-storey building have a case to answer in the charge preferred against them.
The court made the declaration while ruling on a No Case Submission application filed by the defendants.
The state government had charged the church’s Board of Trustees to court over the collapse of the building, which killed no fewer than 116 persons on September 12, 2014.
The engineers – Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun – were also charged alongside their companies, Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Ltd.
They are facing 110 counts of involuntary manslaughter, while the registered trustees of SCOAN were charged with one count of building without approval.
The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions stated that the defendants violated Section 75 of the Urban and Regional Planning Law of Lagos State 2010 as well as Section 222 of the Criminal Law of Lagos State 2011.
They were arraigned on April 19, 2016, but they pleaded ‘not guilty’.
The prosecution subsequently opened its case, called witnesses and tendered documents to prove the allegations against the defendants.
However, upon the close of the prosecution’s case in October 2017, the defendants, rather than enter their defence, filed a ‘no-case’ submission, contending that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them.
The defence insisted that there was nothing in the evidence provided by the prosecution to warrant their clients to proceed into any defence.
They, therefore, urged the court to discharge the defendants.
However, the prosecution opposed the no-case submission, arguing that the defendants had a case to answer based on the evidence of all prosecution witnesses.
The prosecution maintained that a prima facie case had been established, which the defendants had to defend.
At the resumed hearing on Thursday, Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo dismissed the no-case submission filed by the defendants, ordering them to open their defence.
He adjourned the case until April 27 for the defence to open its case.