The Lagos coroner, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe, saddled with the responsibility of determining the cause of death of the 116 victims of the Synagogue Church Of All Nations building collapse, has lamented the slow pace of the inquest.
Komolafe was forced on Tuesday to grant another adjournment till February 26, 2015 at the request of the counsel for the founder of SCOAN, Prophet T.B. Joshua, Mr. Olalekan Ojo.
At the resumed proceeding of the coroner’s inquest on Tuesday, the magistrate announced that he would not be able to proceed with the inquest as he had received a letter from Ojo, asking him to please cancel the Tuesday and Wednesday earlier fixed dates for the continuation of the inquest.
Ojo had informed the coroner that he would be unavoidable absent in court, as he needed to appear before a Federal High Court in Lagos for another matter.
Though, he granted the request, Komolafe, however, expressed frustration that the inquest was getting protracted, but he said he hoped to conclude his investigation within the month of March.
“This court cannot continue indefinitely. I just want to say that I am not going to sit for more than two weeks.
“Anybody that will not come during that period, we will skip his or her testimony and move ahead,” he said.
The last time the coroner effectively sat was December 23, 2014, when Komolafe adjourned till January 6, 2015, with a promise to conclude the inquest before the end of January.
The adjourned date of January 6 was however thwarted owing to the closure of courts in the state by the striking Judiciary Staff Union of Nigeria.
The coroner was however able to sit on February 10, 2015, yet nothing could be done on that day as witnesses and some of the interested parties were not in court due to low level of awareness as to the court’s sitting on that date.
Komolafe, while further adjourning till February 17, had then declared the remaining days in that week in court to view some the CCTV clips tendered as exhibits for the purpose of cross-examining the witnesses.
But the adjourned date of February 17 was overtaken by the inauguration ceremony of the Roseline Omotoso Court in Ikeja by the Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola.
The court reconvened on Tuesday only to be confronted with a request for further adjournment.
The coroner’s court had its maiden sitting on October 13, last year. Its mandate was to ascertain what killed about 116 people in the collapsed six-storey guesthouse belonging to SCOAN on September 12, 2014.
Majority of the victims were South African nationals.
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