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Friday, 10 July 2015

Nigerian court orders prosecution of TB Joshua’s church: TB Joshua rejects Nigerian court prosecution order

Nigerian court orders prosecution of TB Joshua’s church

http://www.dailyguideghana.com/nigerian-court-orders-prosecution-of-tb-joshuas-church/  

tb joshua
 Evangelist TB Joshua
A church run by the popular Nigerian evangelist TB Joshua should be prosecuted after the collapse of one of its buildings, a coroner has ruled.

A multi-storey church hostel collapsed last September in Lagos killing 116 people, many of them South Africans.

The authorities said it had more floors than its foundation could hold.

“The church was culpable because of criminal negligence resulting in the death of the victims,” coroner Oyetade Komolafe said at the inquest in Lagos.

Mr Komolafe said Mr Joshua’s Synagogue, Church of All Nations (SCOAN), had not obtained proper approval before putting up the structure.

Those who built the hostel should also be investigated, he said.

TB Joshua, referred to by his followers as a “prophet”, had blamed last year’s incident on a small plane which he said had been circling the building, a claim dismissed by the court.

Straight after the building collapsed, emergency teams complained that church officials had blocked access to the site.

The coroner also criticised the fact that the preacher had not appeared as a witness during the inquest.

“Among the individuals and organisations summoned, only Prophet TB Joshua refused to testify,” the AFP news agency quotes Mr Komolafe as saying.

The BBC’s Will Ross in Lagos says the preacher went to another court arguing that the coroner did not have the right to summon him.

Mr Joshua’s services, at a mega-church in Lagos’s Ikotun district, are known for attracting thousands of people.

Followers in Nigeria and abroad believe he has the gifts of healing and prophecy.

Our correspondent says the coroner’s verdict is really a recommendation and now it will now be up to Lagos state’s director of public prosecutions to decide what legal action to take.

TB Joshua rejects Nigerian court prosecution order

tb joshua
The Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) has rejected a coroner’s report that the church run by the popular Nigerian evangelist TB Joshua should be prosecuted.

A multi-storey church hostel collapsed last September in Lagos killing 116 people, many of them South Africans.

The authorities said it had more floors than its foundation could hold.

“The church was culpable because of criminal negligence resulting in the death of the victims,” coroner Oyetade Komolafe said at the inquest in Lagos.

But the Church has responded in a strongly-worded statement saying the report “was a one-sided verdict which left many issues unaddressed and questions unanswered”.

Below is full statement by SCOAN

OFFICIAL STATEMENT FROM THE SYNAGOGUE, CHURCH OF ALL NATIONS IN RESPECT OF THE VERDICT GIVEN BY THE LAGOS CORONER’S COURT RELATING TO THE INCIDENT THAT HAPPENED ON SEPTEMBER 12TH 2014

The Synagogue, Church Of All Nations (SCOAN) rejects the verdict of the coroner on the grounds that it is unreasonable, one-sided and biased. The church maintains its stand that the incident was as a result of sabotage.

From the verdict given today, we would like the public to take note of the following:

There was no finding that the church engaged the services of unqualified or incompetent professionals for the construction of the building.

There was no finding that the church procured substandard materials for the construction of the building, as confirmed by officials of the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON) who gave evidence at the coroner and certified the materials used were all approved and of good quality.

There was evidence that the church had started processing the relevant building approval before the incident, which had been approved and assessed for payment by the appropriate government bodies.

There was no finding that connected the incident with the lack of a building permit.

There was no finding that church members prevented the statutory responders from carrying out their rescue duties.

The church disagrees most vehemently with the finding that the incident was due to structural failure.

The church considers it strange that the coroner did not refer in its verdict to the evidence of the COREN-registered structural engineer and contractor used by the church nor did it evaluate the conflicting evidence given by civil and structural engineers as to whether or not the incident was as a result of structural failure.

It was a one-sided verdict which left many issues unaddressed and questions unanswered.

The church disagrees with the findings concerning the aircraft that hovered over the six-storey building because there was evidence before the court that the incident could have been brought about by external forces such as controlled demolition or an explosion.

The verdict did not even refer to the CCTV footage which showed the 6-storey building falling in less than 4 seconds – a manner consistent with controlled or externally induced demolition – nor did it refer to the interim report and investigation by the Nigerian police force which pointed to sabotage by external forces.

The church also disagrees with the finding that foundation failure was a remote cause because that is contrary to the overwhelming expert evidence of the structural engineers invited to the coroner who eliminated foundation failure as a possible cause.

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 a coroner is not allowed in law to make any finding of civil or criminal liability against anybody.

The recommendation for the investigation of The SCOAN for not possessing the relevant building permits is unwarranted because it did not take into account the evidence that the church had started processing the relevant building approval before the incident. As a matter of fact, the amount payable for the processing had already been assessed by the appropriate government agencies.

The recommendation that statutory responders should be adequately equipped was informed by the fact that the statutory responders who carried out rescue operations in this case were ill-equipped and ill-trained, and that it was the church that mobilised human and material resources to ensure a successful rescue operation.

Finally, the coroner recognised that the conduct of the investigation of the incident was compromised by the failure of the appropriate government agencies to take necessary steps to secure and preserve the scene of the incident, which calls into question the integrity and reliability of the entire investigation.

This is a statement from Barr. Olalekan Ojo, legal counsel to The SCOAN.

We repeat: No matter how long a lie is sustained, the truth will someday prevail!