Lagos: Nigerian televangelist TB Joshua has lodged an appeal against a court ruling that he should testify about a fatal building collapse at his Lagos megachurch, an inquest was told on Thursday.
Lawyer Seun Abimbola, representing the preacher known to his followers as "The Prophet", announced the appeal as he explained his client`s fourth no-show at a hearing probing the tragedy.
A total of 116 people were killed, 81 of them South Africans, when a guesthouse for foreign followers of Joshua`s Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN) came down on September 12 last year.
"We have filed a notice of appeal in respect of the high court ruling," Abimbola said, referring to a March 6 judgment that rejected Joshua`s claim that he should not be called as a witness.
"We have also asked for a stay of execution of the judgment."
Joshua, a self-proclaimed miracle worker and faith healer who counts African presidents and powerful politicians among his flock, has blamed the tragedy on sabotage.
But a series of expert witnesses have told the court that shoddy building work was more likely.
Coroner Oyetade Komolafe told the hearing that he expected Joshua to be present following the high court ruling, which backed his decision to call him to give evidence.
"He is supposed to be here. I would have reminded you by issuing a bench warrant for his arrest but I don`t want to do that," Komolafe told Abimbola.
"I want you to now give a date you are bringing him to court."
Lawyer Akinbolahan Adediran, representing the Lagos State government, said they had not been served with the notice of appeal, "so the high court ruling stands".
Meanwhile, Olusegun Oyenuga of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria said its investigation pinpointed structural defects as the cause of the collapse.
"We carried out an analysis and saw that the foundation was undersized," said Oyenuga, whose organisation is the umbrella body for engineers across Nigeria.
"The columns (pillars) and beams were not strong enough. The design of the building was not properly done. In fact, the design was not handled by a qualified structural engineer."
Weak foundations made the building cave in because additional floors were being added to it, he added.
The hearing was adjourned until Friday.