Ar­rest or­der for no-show Joshua

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

LA­GOS: Lawyers for Nige­rian preacher TB Joshua said yes­ter­day they had mounted a le­gal chal­lenge against a coro­ner who has or­dered him to tes­tify about a fa­tal build­ing col­lapse at his La­gos mega-church.

Joshua has been sum­monsed twice to give ev­i­dence at an in­quest ex­am­in­ing the cir­cum­stances of the Septem­ber 12 tragedy in which 116 peo­ple were killed, but failed to ap­pear on both oc­ca­sions.

The lat­est no-show by the popular tel­e­van­ge­list yes­ter­day an­gered coro­ner Oyetade Ko­mo­lafe, who said he would or­der his ar­rest.

But the pas­tor’s lawyer, Olalekan Ojo, said after the hear­ing: “We have gone to the high court to chal­lenge the ju­ris­dic­tion of the coro­ner to is­sue a wit­ness sum­mons.

“The coro­ner has un­con­sciously ex­ceeded his ju­ris­dic­tion in that he has started in­quir­ing into mat­ters that are not causative of deaths.”

Ko­mo­lafe was fu­ri­ous that Joshua, known to his fol­low­ers as “The Prophet” or “The Man of God”, was not present for the start of pro­ceed­ings after fail­ing to ap­pear on Novem­ber 5.

On that oc­ca­sion, Ojo said Joshua had been “un­avoid­ably ab­sent” and failed to re­ceive the sum­mons. “We don’t want the im­pres­sion to be cre­ated that The Prophet is avoid­ing the court,” he said.

Ko­mo­lafe warned yes­ter­day that wit­nesses who were not in court would be ar­rested. “I think the court has been le­nient enough,” he added.

Joshua, who counts pres­i­dents and pow­er­ful politi­cians from across Africa among his flock, has claimed the col­lapse was caused by a mys­te­ri­ous air­craft seen “hov­er­ing” over the build­ing at the time.

The self-styled mir­a­cle worker and seer has also sug­gested it was a de­lib­er­ate at­tack.

But ex­pert wit­nesses have ruled out the the­ory of aerial sab­o­tage or an ex­plo­sion.

The hear­ing has been told in­stead that the stricken guest house did not have plan­ning per­mis­sion and that a num­ber of other build­ings at Joshua’s Synagogue Church of All Na­tions com­plex were struc­turally un­sound.

Ojo con­firmed that his client had re­ceived the lat­est sum­mons and added that his ap­pear­ance was con­di­tional on the out­come of the high court chal­lenge. “The Prophet has re­spect for the law of the land and will not do any­thing that will hurt the law,” he said. “If, at the end of the day, it is ap­pro­pri­ate for The Prophet to ap­pear, he will be in court. We do not in­tend to abuse the le­gal process.

“Be­sides, The Prophet… is still griev­ing over the hor­ren­dous loss of lives. Com­ing to court is not proper. It is not a good way of show­ing re­spect for the dead.”

There have been calls for Joshua to be pros­e­cuted over the build­ing col­lapse after La­gos State au­thor­i­ties sug­gested it was caused by the il­le­gal ad­di­tion of ex­tra floors. But Ko­mo­lafe has said the in­quest was not a crim­i­nal court.

“We are here to find facts, find out what has hap­pened, why, where, when and how, so as to pre­vent a re­cur­rence,” he said on the open­ing day of the hear­ing on Oc­to­ber 13. – Sapa-AFP

AB­SENT: TB Joshua

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