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Collapsed Church Building: Coroner Suspends TB Joshua’s Appearance

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The coroner investigating the collapsed building at the Synagogue Church of All Nations on Monday suspended invitation to the church’s Founder, Prophet Temitope Joshua, to appear before him.

The Coroner, Mr Oyetade Komolafe, suspended Joshua’s appearance after granting an oral application by Joshua’s Counsel, Chief Lateef Fagemi (SAN).

He said that the suspension was pending the determination of a suit the cleric filed against Komolafe before Justice Lateefat Okunnu of an Ikeja High Court.

The coroner, who had on December 10 dismissed a similar application by Joshua, rejected the submission of the Lagos State Government’s Counsel, Mr Akingbolan Adeniran, that the court would overrule itself by suspending the invitation.

The inquest was instituted under the Lagos State Coroner’s System Law No. 7 of 2007 for the purpose of unraveling the cause of the incident.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 116 persons were killed by the six-storey building collapse on September 12.

Komolafe had issued witness summons on relevant individuals and institutions, including Joshua, to give evidence at the inquest.

However, Joshua filed a suit before Okunnu, seeking a judicial review of the proceedings at the inquest which began on October13

He asked the court to declare the coroner’s summons on him as unconstitutional and a breach of his right to fair hearing.

The cleric also asked for an order restraining Komolafe from taking evidence on issues relating to approval and construction of the collapsed building.

Joshua also asked for an order restraining Komolafe from continuing with the inquest, claiming that the coroner had demonstrated personal interest in the subject matter and his neutrality compromised.

Okunnu had fixed Dec.22 for hearing of the suit.

Meanwhile, at the resumption of the inquest on Monday, Mr Rafiq Arogunjo, a Deputy General Manager, Air Traffic Control, Nigerian Airspace Management Agency (NAMA), testified.

Arogunjo confirmed that a CH 130 Hercules belonging to the Nigerian Air Force was on a circuit training mission within the Ikotun area when the church building collapsed.

He said that the aircraft did not fly directly over the collapsed building but maintained the statutory 1,000 feet flight distance in congested areas.

According to him, the said aircraft had to fly over the Ikotun area for about six times due to high traffic on incoming aircraft at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Lagos.

Arogunjo submitted that, on each of the six times that the aircraft navigated the Ikotun Area, it maintained a 2,700 feet distance from the collapsed building.

He also said that the aircraft, which had five crew members, operated normally and maintained the minimum distance between a flying aircraft and the tallest building in an area.

The inquest was adjourned till December17 for further hearing.

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