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Verdict on church building collapse due July 8: coroner

02 June 2015, 21:24

Lagos - A coroner said on Tuesday he will give his verdict next month into the causes of a deadly church building collapse that killed 116 people, mostly South Africans, in Lagos.

"The court will be back on July 8, 2015 for its verdict," Oyetade Komolafe said after hearing final submissions from lawyers for the state government, church, police and buildings experts.

Also read: 'Boko Haram' dismisses military claims of success

Komolafe had previously said he would give his ruling in mid-March but later shifted it to before the change in local and national government on May 29.

Olalekan Ojo, representing the Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) where the collapse happened, urged the court to reject the evidence of government officials and building experts.

They attributed the deadly collapse to structural defects but Ojo described their testimony as an "enlightened guess" that could not be admissible in law.

The inquest into the September 12 collapse of a guesthouse for foreign followers of the popular Nigerian preacher and televangelist TB Joshua began in October last year.

Eighty-one of the dead were South African visitors to the SCOAN.

Joshua, a self-styled faith healer known to his followers as "The Prophet", has blamed aerial sabotage for the tragedy but has repeatedly failed to attend court to repeat his claims under oath.

Lagos state government officials and expert witnesses have ruled out the theory of aerial sabotage or an explosion.

The hearing has been told instead that the guesthouse did not have planning permission and that a number of other buildings at the church were structurally unsound.

Joshua's lawyers have challenged the coroner's power to summon him to give evidence.



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