The government of Akwa Ibom State has inaugurated an eight-man Commission of Inquiry to investigate the circumstances that led to the collapse of the Reigners Bible Church Building in Uyo, the state’s Capital.
Governor Udom Emmanuel inaugurated the panel on Friday at the Executive Chamber of the Government House in Uyo.
Inaugurating the Commission, Governor Emmanuel harped on the state government’s determination to give the needed support to victims of the collapsed church building and families of those who lost their loved ones.
He further solicited the support of the public for the victims and families affected by the tragedy.
‘We Share In Their Grief’
The Governor urged members of the panel to put in their best to justify the confidence reposed in them.
“Many families in our state were thrown into mourning by the unfortunate collapse of the Reigners church building which killed many and injured several others.
“As a government, we share in their grief. As a government, we must ensure the protection of lives and property of our people. Our intention is to ensure that such does not happen again.
“While I assure victims of government’s support, I urge everyone to continue to remember those families in your prayers,” he requested.
The Commission, which is headed by a retired Judge, Justice Umoekoyo Essang, has three weeks to submit an interim report to the State government based on some terms of reference which the governor listed.
“Investigate and probe the immediate and remote causes of the collapse of the building and examine the role played by any person, institution or authorities and the consequences of such roles in the collapse of the church building.
“Identify persons institution or authorities responsible, either remotely or immediately, in respect of the collapse of the church building,” he told the members of the Commission.
The Commission is required to recommend appropriate sanctions and or actions against all persons found culpable in the said church building collapse, examine generally all the circumstances surrounding the collapsed church building and recommend measures and actions to be taken by any person, institution or authority to guard against future occurrences.
It will also indict persons, organisations, groups or otherwise found culpable in the course of its inquiry and make appropriate recommendations to government.
The Chairman of the Commission, Justice Essang, who spoke on behalf of the members, described their mandate as a call to duty saying they will do their best to justify the confidence reposed in them.
“The event of last Saturday was a tragedy that must not be allowed to happen again.
“We therefore consider this as a call to duty and must give our best to justify the confidence reposed in us. Let me thank the governor for giving us this opportunity to serve. I assure you that we shall not disappoint you,” he told the Governor who was also attending a service at the time the building collapsed.
The roof of the church caved in on Saturday during a church service for the Bishopric ordination of its founder and General overseer, Apostle Akan Weeks.
Several worshipers and guests were killed while several others were injured.
The state government has put the death figure at 26.