How I escaped death in Uyo collapsed church –Pastor
- Gov Emmanuel to set up panel of inquiry as police confirm 27 dead
By Joe Effiong, Uyo and Doris Obinna
12th December 2016
As the government and people of Akwa Ibom State receive condolence messages from across the country over the death of scores in the collapsed building of Reigners Bible Church International, Uyo, one of the pastors who escaped death has recounted his experiences.
The building of Reigners Bible Church International, Uyo collapsed on Saturday during a special service for the consecration of the founder, Akan Weeks, as bishop. The roof of the building caved in on worshippers, including Governor Udom Emmanuel.
In his testimony in church yesterday, Pastor Bassey James of the Royal House of Faith Ministries, Lagos, said God saved him from dying in the collapsed church building.
Pastor James said as he sat at the ministers’ section of the church during the service, a voice told him to leave his seat. As he left his seat and sat somewhere else, the same voice told him to relocate to another place. The pastor said he again left where he sat to another place.
“I moved and sat at another place. The spirit also said I should move to another place. Yes, the spirit said I should change my seat again. I did. Ten minutes thereafter, the building collapsed. Heavy rods collapsed on people,” he recalled.
The pastor said he was tempted to sit where the governor sat, but he first chose to sit with the other pastors before the spirit directed him to move to another place.
“The man that was seated with the governor was hit. So many commissioners were there. I would have loved to sit where the governor sat, but I decided to sit with the ministers, but when I sat there the spirit told me to relocate.”
No fewer than 100 persons reportedly died. However, police confirmed 27 dead while 30 were injured.
Meanwhile, Governor Udom Emmanuel has vowed to bring to book all the professionals involved in the construction of the church auditorium.
The governor said, in a state-wide broadcast, that he would set up a panel to unravel the causes of the collapse of the building.
While promising that the state government would bear the medical cost of all those injured in the disaster, which he noted was the most shocking in the history of the state, Emmanuel, however, appealed to all citizens to remain calm, pray for the injured and avoid undue speculation, as the situation was being given the best possible attention.
Despite his appeal, there were still speculations as to the number of deaths. Some unconfirmed information, especially by church members, say more than 80 of their members, excluding the ones confirmed dead, were still missing by yesterday.
The number did not, however, include non-members who attended the service.
The state police command, through its public relations officer, Codellia Nwawe, told Daily Sun that only 27 persons have been confirmed dead and about 30 others injured.
“At the moment, we have only 27 persons who are certified dead in all the hospitals visited. The evacuation has been concluded; the cranes have cleared the area. There are 30 injured; some with minor injuries and those with major injuries are actually responding to treatment. We have only 27 persons who have actually been certified by doctors as dead,” Nwawe said yesterday.
The collapsed building has rekindled the war of words between the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the All Progressive Congress (APC) in the state.
The state APC publicity secretary, Chief Ita Awak, in a statement captioned: “We share your pains and sorrows. May it never happen again,” said the party welcomed Governor Emmanuel’s promise to set up a panel of inquiry to investigate the incident and bring the culprits to book.
He, however, added: “The APC believes and hopes that as this great country redirects its resources and innate potentials towards a more secure, sustainable and prosperous future, avoidable accidents like the Reigners Bible Church mishap will be blotted out of our existence by the patriotic commitment of all citizens to the APC’s change ethos which is designed to enthrone an ordered, disciplined and prosperous country for all.”
Apparently not comfortable with the APC’s statement, the publicity secretary of the PDP, Mr. Ini Ememobong, fired back,
In a statement titled: “ Ita Awak: Should death not attract sympathy?”, Ememobong said Awak’s statement was a scorn filled-message on behalf of his party, purporting to condole with the victims but obviously seeking to score cheap political gains by being judgmental on the cause of the incident and attempting to use the event to preach the APC change agenda.
“We are deeply troubled by this very inhuman disposition expressed by a man who ought to know more, considering his advanced age and the concomitant maturity that should ordinarily follow. But since we live in very interesting times, filled with incredible characters, we are totally in shock.
We will like to plead that nobody should seek to use this sad event to score any political point. We must sympathise with humanity because its ranks have been depleted via a very tragic source,” the PDP spokesman said.
- The Sun
Emmanuel Declares Two-day Mourning for Scores of Dead Worshippers in Church Building Collapse
By Francis Ndubuisi in Abuja and Okon Bassey in Uyo
12th December 2016
Gov. Udom Emmanuel
The Akwa Ibom State Government has declared a two-day mourning over the collapse of a church building that killed about 50 people and wounded hundreds of others.
The massive building of the Reigners Bible Church International, which was still under construction, collapsed during Archbishopric ordination of its founder, Akan Weeks, as Bishop last Saturday.
The state Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel, who attended the service as the special guest of honour with other top government officials, escaped death while some of his aides sustained injuries.
In a broadcast to the people of the state yesterday, Emmanuel described the incident as unprecedented in the history of the state, saying: “The unfortunate incident has caused sorrow and tears and a very big pain in the heart.”
With the mood of the state, the governor declared yesterday and today as mourning days in honour of the dead and those injured by the collapsed building.
He directed that all flags be flown at half mast within the state, saying the two-day mourning period would be rounded off with a solemn assembly at the State Government Banquet Hall, Uyo by 4 pm today.
Emmanuel said the state government would bear the medical cost of all the injured, commending the medical team for their contribution to save the lives of those who were critically injured.
“Government will therefore set up a high powered panel of inquiry to ascertain the immediate and remote causes leading to the collapse of the building with a view to forestalling the recurrence of the incident and bring to book persons found to have compromise professional standards in the construction of the building,” he said.
In Abuja, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, also expressed deep sadness over the incident.
In a message to Emmanuel and the people of the state, the minister said appropriate words failed him in expressing his very deep sorrow for the loss.
In the message, which was conveyed by his Special Adviser on Media, Mr. Akpandem James, the minister said he was greatly saddened by the news of the incident where scores of worshippers and guests were killed and tens of others injured.
“My thoughts and prayers go to the Akwa Ibom State Governor, His Excellency, Deacon Udom Emmanuel, whom providence had spared in the disaster, the families of the victims of the disaster, and all the people of the state,” he said, adding: “My sympathy also goes to the pastorate and members of the Reigners Bible Church along Uyo Village Road. It is my fervent prayer that the Almighty comforts all those affected and helps to soothe their pains and heal their wounds.”
Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, also sent soothing words to the victims and the injured yesterday.
“It is so sad that this incident claimed precious lives of innocent worshippers and injured scores of others,” Saraki said in a statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicly, Yusuph Olaniyonu, in Abuja, adding: “This was certainly an avoidable occurrence, the more reason relevant state and federal authorities should urgently launch an investigation to unravel the mechanical, environmental and human factors responsible for the incident.”
Also reacting, the Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mr. Onofiok Luke, prayed God to comfort the bereaved families, the state and asked the people to gather in love, prayer and intercede over the situation.
Meanwhile, the authority of University of Uyo Teaching Hospital (UUTH) has refuted media reports claiming that 200 persons died.
A statement yesterday by the hospital signed by the Chief Medical Director, Prof. Etete Peters, described the report as untrue, saying the hospital would not have released such figure of death when the casualty rate in the disaster was not computed.
However, the state Commissioner of Police, Mr. Murtala Mani, said yesterday that 27 persons had been confirmed dead while 37 persons were injured.
Also commiserating with the families of the victims, the commissioner representing Akwa Ibom State on the Board of Niger Delta Development Commission, Mr. Samuel Frank, described the incident as shocking and an unprecedented tragedy.
A statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Mr. Dan Etokidem, sympathised with the families of all departed ones and prayed for speedy recovery of those that sustained injuries.