A Lagos High Court, Igbosere, on Wednesday has vacated the order for the arrest of Shola Olumofe, the second defendant in the trial of 10 people charged with negligence following the collapse of a five-storey building at Lekki, on March 8, 2016, five persons were reportedly killed in the accident.
Other defendants are Richard Nyong, the Managing Director of Lekki Gardens Estate Ltd; Henry Odofin, Molabake Mortune, Omotilewa Joseph, and Marius Agwu.
The following companies — Lekki Gardens Estate Ltd, Get Too Rich Investment Ltd, HC Insight Solutions Ltd and Artech Insignia Ltd — are also defendants in the suit.
On May 24, when the case was first brought for arraignment, other defendants excluding Olumofe, were in court.
His counsel, Richard Ahonaruogho, however, challenged the inclusion of Olumofe as the defendant in a six-count charge bordering on failure to obtain a building permit and involuntary manslaughter brought against them.
He also urged the court to allow the absence of Olumofe until his application challenging the jurisdiction of the court was heard and determined.
Justice Sybil Nwaka after listening to all the arguments, however, issued a warrant for his arrest.
At the resumed hearing on Wednesday, Counsel to Olumofe, Mr G. M. Oguntade (SAN), who replaced Ahonaruogho, urged the court to vacate the bench warrant issued on Olumofe.
He told the court that Olumofe was sick and was in London for treatment.
Oguntade also urged the court to hear his preliminary application, just as he wanted the court to quash the charge.
The lawyer urged the court to strike out Olumofe’s name from the charge, adding that the second defendant’s name was wrongly joined in the charge.
He said that the charge did not disclose any prima facie case against Olumofe.
“The proof of evidence does not disclose any case against the second defendant.
“Up till now, the second defendant has never been invited by the police to make any statement about this case.
“It is our submission that the failure to take the statement of my client is fatal to this charge brought before the court,” Oguntade said.
In response to Oguntade’s argument, Mr T. K. Shitta-Bey, the State Director for Public Prosecutions (DPP) did not oppose the application for the bench warrant to be vacated.
Shitta-Bey, however, told the court that she filed a 19-paragraph affidavit opposing the preliminary objection of the second defendant.
She said the right to object to an information or charge filed could not be activated until the prosecution closed its case.
“The right to a fair hearing becomes activated during the trial and not during the investigation.”
The DPP also told the court that the prosecutory powers of the Attorney-General was not subject to any other investigative agency including the police.
She, therefore. said the right of a suspect to remain silent during the investigation did not mean that a charge could not be brought against him.
“I submit that when an AG is armed with sufficient materials against a defendant, he does not need to engage the police or any other agency,” the prosecutor said.
Earlier, the DPP made an application and amended the charge removing the names of two defendants from the charge.
She said that the names of the sixth defendant, Marius Agwu and the 10th defendants, Artech Insigna Ltd, were no longer included in the charge.
Justice Nwaka after listening to all the argument vacated the bench warrant issued against the second defendant.
She said, “bench warrant placed on the second defendant, Olumofe, on June 1, is hereby discharged.”
He adjourned until June 29 for ruling on the preliminary application and for arraignment.
Meanwhile, The Lagos state government has filed an amended charge before a Lagos High Court in Igbosere against Richard Nyong, the Lekki Gardens Estate Ltd MD.
The charges were filed over alleged negligence in the events leading to the collapse of a building in Lekki area of the state on March 10, 2016.
The state government, through the Office of the State Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, had filed charges against Nyong and others before Justice Sybil Nwaka.
Source: ( PM News )