Three weeks ago, a seven-story building under construction collapsed in Port Harcourt, the Rivers State capital. When the news broke, no one in Obodoukwu, a community in Ideator North Local Government Area of Imo State, could have envisaged that someone from the community would be buried in the bowel of that ill-fated structure.
But as events continue to unfold, it has dawned on the people of the town that one of the illustrious sons of that community, Mr Morgan Ekene Ihionu was among the persons trapped when the massive building under construction collapsed on November 23.
According to Chief Vitus Uzor, Deputy President, Ohanaeze Lagos, and member Nzuko Obodoukwu,
Lagos branch, the news came to him as a rude shock. Chief Uzor told Daily Sun that on that fateful
day, Mr. Ihionu, who was one of the resource persons for the project had gone to the construction site on inspection.
“He had parked his car and walked towards the building, not knowing what awaited him. Moments after he went into the building, there was a thunderous noise as the seven-story building collapsed, burying Mr. Ihionu and other workers in the building. The only evidence that Mr Ihionu was ever at the place was his car that was neatly parked in front of the building,” Uzor informed the reporter.
Chief Uzor further explained that immediately he got the bad news, the President General Nzuko Obodukwu, Ben. Obidegwu was contacted. Thereafter, the chairman of the association in Port Harcourt, Mr. Cally Nnadika, was also informed.
He explained that the chairman, Lagos branch, Mr. Chijioke Obioha, an elder brother to the victim, Emeka Ihionu, his uncles, Prof. Ezekiel Ihionu and Dr. McChuks Ihionu, another brother, Rev. Fr. Tobias Ihionu and others thereafter moved to the site in Port Harcourt where they joined other sons and daughters of Obodoukwu in their effort to rescue their son believed to be trapped in the ruble
of the collapsed building.
In a statement made available to the reporter, Obidiegwu lamented the slow pace of the rescue exercise, which he noted was dragging on for too long.
“Since the time we received the news of this incident, we have tried in our capacity to get the necessary help needed to ensure the rescue of not only our brother but all others trapped under the debris of the collapsed structure.
“Even when we noticed that the efforts deployed weren’t enough, we devised all available means at bringing this development to the attention of the relevant agencies. It’s been days now and we still don’t know the fate of our brother. These are days of mental torture and anxiety.
“At this point, we are broken. The hope we had initially of reuniting with our brother is fast fading, and it’s obvious it can only take a miracle of some sort to have our brother back in the right frame of mind and body,” the statement noted.
On the pace of rescue effort at the site, the president general lamented that the relevant agencies
had not been able to deploy enough equipment for the exercise.
Obidiegwu, who has since become visibly sad and heartbroken, bewailed: “What is the level of effort deployed to rescue the victims of the collapsed structure? What is the level of commitment of the relevant agencies in rescuing the victims? After so many days, what is the fate of our brother, Ekene Morgan Ihionu and others trapped in the collapsed structure? When shall we be reunited with our brother?”
While envisaging a bleak Yuletide following the fate that had befallen the young man who, until his disappearance, was an active member of the community association, the President General described Ihionu as a vibrant young man who had contributed a lot towards the development of his community.