A Lagos High Court, sitting at Igbosere Lagos State today issued bench warrant against Mr Sola Olumofe, one of the Directors of Lekki Garden Estate, whose persistent refusal to appear before the court has stalled the arraignment of the company and its management over multiple manslaughter charge.
Olumofe is being charged before the court alongside Managing Director of Lekki Gardens Estate Limited, Mr. Richard Nyong and four other persons and three limited liability companies.
Other accused persons are: Odofin Henry Taiwo, the engineer that supervised the collapsed structures, Omolabake Mortune, and Omotilewa Oluwatosin Joseph.
The limited liability companies are: Lekki Gardens Estate Limited, Get Too Rich Investment Limited a.K.a. GT Rich Investment Limited and HT Insight Solution Limited, which were represented by Nyong Robert and Odofin Taiwo respectively.
Justice Cybel Nwaka issued the bench warrant after dismissing a preliminary objection filed by and argued by the Olumofe’s counsel Mr. Richard Omoahorago, who had urged the court that the physical appearance of his client to be dispenseD with until the motion on notice is heard and determined.
Delivering ruling on the preliminary objection, Justice Nwaka said the notion of trial in absentia is a negation to the rule of fair hearing, adding that the second defendant has persistently absented himself from all the proceedings without providing any cogent reason for his absence.
The trial judge said the attitude of the defendant amounted to a ploy or clog in the wheel of justice, aimed to delay his trial and obstructs the cause of justice.
“Justice is three way traffic: to the complainant, to the defendant and to justice. An accused ought to be present in court for his trial, although he has the right to remain silent during proceedings. In view of the foregoing, this application is hereby dismissed, and bench warrant issued against second defendant, ” The judge pronounced.
With the ruling of the court, the coast is now clear for the arraignment of the Managing Director of Lekki Garden Estate, Mr. Richard Nyong, five persons and four companies, who were indicted over the collapsed of a six storey building that killed five and injured many in Lekki, in March 8, 2016.
The court fixed the arraignment date of the defendants for 14th June after dismissing the second defendant’s preliminary Objection on Thursday.
The defendants according to the charge marked LD/3808c/2017, filed by the Lagos State government before the court, alleged in the statement of offence that the defendants failed to obtain building permit and other building approval which is contrary to section 75(1) of the Urban and Regional Planning And Development Law, CH. U2,Vol. 10 of Lagos State, 2015, when between August 2014, and March 2016, at house H15, Horizon 1 Extention, Ikate Elegunshi, in the Lagos, did commence and complete construction of six storey building without building permit and approval.
They were also accused of commuting involuntary manslaughter contrary to Section 224 and punishable under Section 229 of the Criminal Laws CH. C17, Vol. 3, Laws of Lagos State, 2015, when between August 2014, and March 2016, at house H15, Horizon 1 Extention, Ikate Elegunshi, in the Lagos, commence and complete construction of six storey building with gross negligence and or reckless disregard for human life leading to the death of following people : Williams Akpati, Kazeem Ilesanmi, Raphael Ezeh, Saminu Umar, and Sunday Ezeh.