Attorney Olalekan Ojo said yesterday the ruling “was one-sided” and left many issues unaddressed. “From the verdict given by the coroner, we would like the public to note that there was no finding that the church engaged services of unqualified or incompetent professionals for the construction of the building.”
In his inquest, coroner Oyetade Komolafe ruled on Wednesday the church must be investigated and Joshua prosecuted for not obtaining relevant approval before embarking on the construction of a building that collapsed and killed 116 people, 81 of those being South Africans, on September 12 last year. The tragic incident left South Africans in shock and the families of the deceased in a state of desperation until the bodies of their loved ones had been repatriated.
Komolafe said in Lagos the church was culpable because of criminal negligence resulting in the death of the victims.
Though a coroner also dismissed the church’s claims that an aircraft seen hovering over the six-storey building at the time could have contributed to the collapse, Ojo maintained “there was evidence before the court that the incident could have been brought about by external forces such as controlled demolition or an explosion.”
But Ojo said there was no evidence that the incident was due to structural failure.
“The recommendation for the investigation and prosecution of the contractors and structural engineers used by the church for criminal negligence is premature, because it gives the impression the coroner has found them guilty when the coroner is not allowed in law to make findings of civil or criminal liability against anybody.”
Meanwhile, the South African government has welcomed the conclusion of the inquest.
Acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams said government hoped the conclusion of the inquest would assist families who lost loved ones in the tragedy find closure.