Joe Effiong, Uyo
The Commission of Inquiry set up by the Akwa Ibom State Government on the collapsed Reigners Bible Church which killed more than 30 people, has indicted the owner of the church, Mr. Akan Weeks.
It accused him of allegedly using quacks as well as interfering in the construction of the church building.
Consequently, the state government has vowed to deal with anybody or group of persons fingered to have contributed to the disaster which almost claimed the life of Governor Udom Emmanuel, who was in the church with other dignitaries to witness Weeks’ bishopric of consecration.
Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko, gave the assurance in an interview with newsmen yesterday, in response to criticism in some quarters, alleging an attempt by government to exonerate Weeks, who was also accused of impunity and display of arrogance after the collapse.
“His (Weeks’) adamant posture of unbridled impunity as the founder/general overseer of Reigners Bible Church led to the unfortunate incident of December 10, 2016,” the commission said in the report.
Justice Umoekoyo Essang-led commission said the church did not get government’s permit for the building and that the construction work was rushed with impunity to have the event take place in an uncompleted building site.
The state government, however, noted: “Facts available indicated that Weeks relied on the professionals he engaged. It is the obligation of the professionals to execute due care and skill in the discharge of their duties or resign, where they are not allowed to do so.”
Nwoko said although the state government would not prosecute anyone based on the report of the commission, however, it will ensure anyone found culpable from the investigation is made to feel the full weight of the law.
He promised to liaise with police authorities to ensure a thorough investigation of those indicted by the report of the commission to ensure justice is done in line with due process.
Nwoko appealed to Akwa Ibom people to remain calm as the state government would do all within its powers to ensure everyone indicted is properly investigated and charged to court.
“No one has been exonerated, but we have to carry out proper investigation, you cannot just jail anyone, we must follow due process, but trust that justice must be done at the end of the day.”
Meanwhile, Commissioner for Health, Dr. Dominic Ukpong, disclosed that the state government had taken steps to forestall a repeat of such magnitude of crisis with the establishment of emergency health centres, with trained emergency personnel.
He also commended Governor Emmanuel, who, although a victim of the church collapse, comported himself to lead the rescue team to ensure victims were immediately evacuated and rushed for rescue.