A Lagos State High Court sitting in Ikeja has awarded a N25, 000 fine against the Founder, Synagogue Church Of All Nations, Prophet T.B. Joshua, for “deliberately stalling hearing” in a suit he filed against a Lagos coroner, Magistrate O.A. Komolafe.
Komolafe is the coroner probing the September 12, 2014 building collapse in the premises of SCOAN in Ikotun, Lagos. No fewer than 116 persons, mostly South Africans, died in the incident.
Justice Lateefa Okunnu, while awarding the cost against Joshua on Tuesday, berated the prophet for “wasting the time of the court and tax payers’ money.”
The judge expressed displeasure that the matter, which was filed in December last year, had been bogged down in several adjournments at the instance of Joshua.
Okunnu’s order followed the announcement by Joshua’s lawyer, Chief Lateef Fagbemi (SAN), that his client had filed two fresh applications before the court in relation to the case.
“We filed two processes yesterday. One is a motion and the other one is the applicant’s consolidated reply on points of law,” Fagbemi told the judge.
Counsel for the Lagos State Government, Mr. Karmardeen Bakare, said he had just been served with the said processes on Tuesday morning in the court premises.
The state counsel said it would be impossible for him to go on with the case in the circumstance as he needed time to look at the fresh applications and reply appropriately.
He therefore urged the court for an adjournment.
Okunnu said it was clear that the day’s proceeding had been hampered by Joshua’s fresh applications.
The judge said the fine must be paid before the next adjourned date and that Joshua must file an affidavit of compliance as evidence.
The prophet had approached Okunnu, asking for a judicial review of the coroner’s inquest into the building collapse in his church.
The coroner’s inquest, which commenced on October 13, last year had the mandate to determine the cause of death of the victims.
But Joshua, in his application before Okunnu, asked the judge to determine whether the witness summons served on him to appear personally before the coroner was not a breach of his right to fair hearing.
He had also argued, through Fagbemi, that the coroner had been extending the inquest into areas outside his jurisdiction.