The Lagos State High Court in Igbosere on Thursday dismissed the no-case submissions filed by the defendants in the case of the collapsed Synagogue Church of All Nations’ building, which killed about 116 persons in September 2014.
Justice Lateef Lawal-Akapo, in his ruling, said the state had established a prima facie case against the defendants to warrant their being called upon to defend themselves.
The judge, therefore, fixed April 27, 2018 for the defendants to open their defence.
The defendants in the case are the Registered Trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations and the two engineers who built the collapsed six-storey building.
The engineers, Messrs Oladele Ogundeji and Akinbela Fatiregun, were charged alongside their companies – Hardrock Construction and Engineering Company and Jandy Trust Limited.
They are facing 110 counts of involuntary manslaughter while the Registered Trustees of SCOAN are facing one count of building without approval.
The Lagos State Directorate of Public Prosecutions said 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 state subsequently opened its case, called witnesses and tendered documents to prove the allegations against the defendants.
Upon the closure of the state’s case in October last year, the defendants, rather than enter their defence, filed no-case submissions, contending that the prosecution failed to establish a prima facie case against them.
The defence counsel, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), Chief Efe Akpofure (SAN), Mrs. Titi Akinlawon (SAN) and Mr. Olalekan Ojo, said there was nothing in the evidence of the prosecution to warrant their clients to proceed into any defence.
They urged the court to discharge them and let them go.
But the judge on Thursday dismissed their no-case submissions.
The SCOAN’s building, which collapsed on September 12, 2014, killed no fewer than 116 persons, 85 of whom were South Africans.
Many other persons were injured in the accident.