The Akwa Ibom Government has said it would begin an enquiry over the Reigners Bible Church International building that collapsed in Uyo on Saturday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the state governor, Mr Udom Emmanuel, who was a participant in the church service, escaped unhurt.The governor was the special guest of honour at the elevation and consecration service of the founder of the church, Apostle Akan Weeks, to the rank of bishop.In a statement, the Chief Press Secretary, Mr Ekerete Udoh, said the state government would constitute a panel of inquiry into the cause of the accident.
He said the inquiry was necessary to forestall a re-occurrence of such incident and to bring to book persons found to have compromised professional standards in erecting the building. Udoh said the governor was touched by the unfortunate incident and personally supervised the rescue operations and evacuation of the injured to the hospital.
He said the state government would foot the bill for the medical treatment of all the victims of the collapsed church building.
Udoh appealed to citizens of the state to remain calm, pray for those injured and avoid undue speculations as the situation was being given the best possible attention.
Witnesses said some 60 people were victims of the accident but the Police Public Relations Officer, ASP Cordelia Nwawe, said the profiling of victims was still ongoing.
How Udom escaped
A witness told NAN that the Reigners bible church building collapsed 30 minutes after the governor arrived.
‘’When we were about taking offering, 30 minutes after the governor came in, the building caved in. Security operatives took him away,’’ he said.
When NAN correspondents visited the scene, security operatives had cordoned off the entire building while trying to rescue those trapped in the debris.
Another witness, Miss Uduak Effiong, told NAN that a female victim’s bowel was ripped open by the tragedy.
Effiong, who is a communication arts student of the University of Uyo, said that she lost three friends to the incident.
Mr Joseph James, who also witnessed the building collapse, told NAN that the Founder of the church, Apostle Akan Weeks, was also brought out unhurt.
Some rescue team members said that over 60 casualties had been removed from the debris.
However, the state Police Public Relation Officer, ASP Cordelia Nwawe, said that she could not confirm the casualty figure since rescue operations were ongoing.
She said that security operatives had been drafted to maintain law and order at the scene to prevent hoodlums from cashing in on the situation.
“Rescue team members are trying their best to rescue all the victims trapped at the collapsed building.
The rescue team at the Reigners bible church premises was made up of workers of Julius Berger Construction Company, the police, army, Fire Service, Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps, Nigerian Medical Association and the Federal Road Safety Corps.