President Muhammadu Buhari will arrive in London on Tuesday to join 50 other world leaders at a landmark international anti-corruption summit called by Prime Minister David Cameron.
The “Anti-Csummit, Nearly two months after the collapse of Reigners’ Bible Church building, Uyo, Akwa Ibom, that claimed not less than 26 lives and injuring many others, the Civil Society Network Against Corruption (CSNAC), has urged the federal government to prosecute the leadership of the church for gross negligence resulting to the death of some Nigerians.
In a petition addressed to the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, Abubakar Malami, and signed by CSNAC’s chairman, Mr. Olanrewaju Suraju, the coalition urged the minister to issue a directive and monitor the prosecution of the Church for its reckless act of impunity and negligence which resulted in the loss of lives at its church site.
The petition reads: “The Premium Times, an online newspaper in a report dated January 11, 2017 uncovered the negligence of the aforementioned church, which resulted in a deadly building collapse, causing the death of at least 26 worshippers and injuring several others.
“The said collapsed church building structure had once been demolished by the Uyo City Capital Development Authority at foundation level and warned the developer to desist from erecting any structure on the site, as the land and the entire area where the church was built had since 2002 been mapped out by the government as conservation area.
“The said area lies on the hilly side of Uyo ravine which is prone to landslide. In violation of the State’s law and flagrant disregard for safety of lives, the church reconstructed the foundation and a massive structure on the land.”
The coalition noted further that: “The Head, Town Planning Department of the Uyo City Capital Development Authority, Mr. Effiong Akpan, at a sitting of the commission of inquiry instituted by the state government to look into immediate and remote causes of the church collapse, that the said church building structure collapsed on the December 10, 2016 during the ordination of its founder, Akan Weeks.
Mr. Akpan also told the commission that the church building had been marked for demolition five different times. He said:
“We marked ‘X’ on the structure on March 6, 2013; it was covered by paint; we did the same on July, 16 2014; March 1, 2016; July 20, 2016 and August 16, 2016.” The developer ignored all the markings by covering them with paint.
“It was also disclosed that the UCCDA later issued a 21 days ultimatum to remove the property, failing which the authority will remove the structure and cost borne by the developer.
However, at the expiration of the notice and following the refusal of the church to remove the property, the UCCDA had financial constraint in removing the heavy pillars and roofing used for the construction, as cranes, excavators, bulldozers, money, security coverages and vehicles were required to carry out the demolition.
The request for fund was approved by the state government but same remained inaccessible by the UCCDA.
“It is also reported that the owners of the church blackmailed and harassed the authorities by threatening to liaise with the government to dismiss any of the authority’s employees who made attempts to embarrass workers on the church site.”
According to CSNAC, “Based on the above facts, it is therefore our conclusion that the church in a flagrant display of nonchalance, high-handedness, impunity and negligence to the safety of lives at its church site caused the death of over 25 well-meaning Nigerians.
“We believe in the sanctity of human lives and as such any infraction of same should be dealt with according to the laws of our land in other to serve as an effective deterrent in future cases.
This should be the case regardless of whose ox is gored.
“CSNAC hereby urge you to use your good office, as the chief law officer of the country, to issue a directive and monitor the prosecution of the said Reigners’ Bible Church for its reckless act of impunity and negligence which resulted in the loss of lives at its church site,” the coalition said.