A Lagos State Coroner’s Court on Wednesday dismissed an application filed by the registered trustees of the Synagogue Church of All Nations and its founder, Prophet Temitope Joshua.
The applicants had asked the court to stay proceedings on its ongoing inquest into the September 12 building collapse of a guest house within the church premises.
One hundred and sixteen persons were killed after the six-storey building collapsed.
The applicants had asked the court to stay proceedings on issues relating to calling of witnesses in respect of the building approval or material tests of the collapsed building.
They had also asked the coroner to suspend further action on the invitation issued to Joshua to appear before the inquest to give evidence.
According to them, the stay of proceedings is pending the determination of another suit filed by Joshua against the coroner before Justice Lateefat Okunnu of an Ikeja High Court.
However, in his ruling, the coroner, Oyetade Komolafe, dismissed the application for lacking merit and for being an abuse of court processes.
Komolafe said the court had no power to entertain the application because it was not an adversarial court, which had plaintiffs and respondents.
He said: “The proceedings before the court is a judicial inquiry to ascertain certain facts.
“There are no parties in a coroner’s inquest or proceedings.
“The proceedings are inquisitorial and the court cannot determine or pronounce criminal liabilities on witnesses.”
According to Komolafe, the Coroner’s Systems Law prohibits the court from entertaining applications outside its own jurisdiction.
“Therefore, this court cannot adjudicate on this motion on notice as in doing so, the court will be acting outside its own jurisdiction,” he said.
Komolafe noted that the suit filed before the high court did not translate to an automatic stay of proceedings because the judge did not grant any order to that effect.
He said: “From the order made by the high court, there is nowhere it was stated that the proceedings of this inquest should be stayed as provided by Section 40(6) of the High Court Civil Procedure Rules.
“This court cannot adjudicate on this motion on notice as doing so would amount to operate outside the scope of a Coroners Court.
“In the circumstances therefore, this application is hereby dismissed.”
The matter was adjourned until December 12 for further hearing.