A Lagos High Court on Wednesday refused the arraignment of 10 persons charged with the collapse of a five-storey building at Lekki, Lagos, on March 8, 2016, following an application challenging its jurisdiction.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that at least five persons were killed when the building collapsed.
Justice Sybil Nwaka refused the arraignment of the accused following an application brought by the second defendant, Shola Olumofe, who challenged the jurisdiction of the court.
Consequently, Nwaka adjourned the case until June 1 to rule on the application.
Other defendants are Richard Nyong, Henry Odofin, Molabake Mortune, Joseph Omotilewa, Marius Agwu, Lekki Gardens Estate Ltd, Get Too Rich Investment Ltd, HC Insight Solutions Ltd and Artech Insignia Ltd.
Apart from Olumofe who was not in court, other defendants — Marius Agwu and Artech Insignia Ltd — were also absent.
Earlier, Mr Richard Ahonerogu, Counsel to Olumofe, told the court that he was not aware that the case was scheduled for arraignment.
“What is on the cause list for today is for the case to be mentioned.
“I have filed a motion urging the court to allow the absence of my client until my application challenging the jurisdiction of this court is heard and determined,” he said.
He also said that the second defendant’s extra-judicial statement was not obtained and he was not served with the First Information Report (FIR).
Ahenorogu also said that the prosecution was served with all the pending applications but the prosecution did not file any reply.
Chief Wole Olanipekun (SAN), Counsel to first defendant (Richard Nyong), aligned himself with Ahenorogu’s argument.
He urged the court to hear the second defendant’s application first.
But Adeniji Kazeem, the Prosecution Counsel and Attorney-General of Lagos State, said the business of the day was arraignment.
He urged the court to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of the three defendants who were absent.
Kazeem anchored his argument on the provisions of the Administration of Criminal Justice Law of Lagos (ACJL) 2015.
NAN reports that the defendants are facing a six-count charge bordering on manslaughter and failure to obtain a building permit. (NAN)