A Lagos coroner last Tuesday said he would within two weeks give his verdict into the causes of last year’s deadly building collapse at the compound of the powerful Nigerian pastor TB Joshua.
Coroner Oyetade Komolafe has been probing the September 12 accident that killed 116 people, mostly South Africans, but the inquiry was stalled by a three-week judicial staff strike.
Komolafe said the court had been able to make up for “the lost ground” caused by the strike.
“Within the next two weeks, all witnesses in this matter would have given their evidence after which counsels to the parties will give their final addresses and the court will give its verdict,” Komolafe told a hearing in Lagos.
He said the court will visit the Synagogue Church of All Nations compound for further inspection before issuing its findings.
Joshua, a popular evangelical preacher and televangelist known to his followers as “The Prophet”, has attributed the collapse to sabotage.
The pastor, who counts presidents and powerful politicians from across Africa among his flock, has claimed that the collapse was caused by a mysterious plane seen “hovering” over the building at the time.
But Lagos officials and expert witnesses have ruled out the theory of aerial sabotage or an explosion.
The hearing has been told instead that the guest house did not have planning permission and that a number of other buildings at the church were structurally unsound.
The self-styled miracle worker has repeatedly refused to appear before the inquest to give evidence with his lawyers challenging the coroner’s power to summon him.
At last Tuesday’s hearing, the church’s chief security officer, Sunday Okojie disputed a claim by emergency officials that they were denied access to the site for three days following the collapse.
Okojie insisted rescue workers were given free access to the site but did not appear to be working urgently to save lives. – africa.com
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