REIGNERS BIBLE CHURCH WHITE PAPER: Victims Family Slam Udom, AKSG – Demand Akan Weeks Prosecution
The decision by the Akwa Ibom State Government led by Governor Udom Emmanuel to absolve Apostle Akan Weeks, the founder and General Overseer of Reigners Bible Church wrongdoing and blame in the December 10, 2016 collapsed church building has attracted knocks from family of the victims.
It would be recalled that Governor Emmanuel who was at the church when the building collapsed and narrowly escaped death through divine intervention, had in 2017, set up a commission of inquiry to investigate the circumstances surrounding the collapse.
Chaired by retired State High Court Judge, Justice Umoekoyo Essang, the commission submitted it reports nearly a year ago but government refused to make it public.
It however took pressure from concern citizens including a suit filed at State High Court with Suit No HU/MISC/106/2018, to compel government release the report.
The Sensor gathered that the initial report indicated the founder of the church, Apostle Akan Weeks especially in the area of unapproved and poor construction.
But in a twist of the report, the State Government absolved the founder of any blame, thus, adding salt to the injury of the victims.
Reacting, a human rights activist and Lagos based legal practitioner, Barr. Inibehe Effiong wondered why the State Government should bungle the report of the commission that indicated Apostle Akan Weeks and go ahead to absolved him.
According to him, “The commission of inquiry indicted Apostle Akan Weeks in clear terms for not obtaining requisite approvals before initiating the construction of the building. It also found him culpable for deliberately interfering with the building structure in defiance of professional advice by removing some of the building’s components, shortly before he hurriedly organized the ill fated bishopric consecration.
“The commission of Inquiry also found that Apostle Akan Weeks willfully disregarded directives by the Uyo Capital City Development Authority, UCCDA, for him to stop work at the site.”
Effiong noted that the State Government was never interested in the truth of the collapsed church, thus, a call for the implementation of the recommendation and made Akan Weeks to face trial.
A member of the victim’s family who gave his name simply as UbokhoAbasi, said that government decision to absolve Apostle Akan Weeks blame in the unfortunate incident is ridiculous.
ubongAbasi who said he was inside the church on the fateful day when the incident happened, decried the action of the State Government saying that government does not have respect for the human lives, especially that of the victims.
Another family member of one of the victims, Charles Umoh who commended the commission for discharging her mandate creditably without fear or favour, noted with disappointment that Government has hastily bundled the report for absolving the founder of the church of any wrong doing.
He called for serious investigation and punishment meted to the founder in the interest of justice, at least to the victims.
On the 10th of December 2016, there was a tragic building collapse at Reigners Bible Church in Akwa Ibom during the consecration of its founder Pastor Akan Weeks as a Bishop. Midway into the service the building caved in killing scores while hundreds were injured. It’s on record that the Governor escaped death by the skin of his teeth but one of his security details was not lucky as he died while protecting his principal when a heavy rod dropped on him.
Immediately this happened, there was the usual condemnation and commiserating which is the norm with reaction to disasters in Nigeria. The Governor promised to set up a panel of inquiry into the collapse, which he did but it seems the panel’s efforts at presenting an unbiased observation of the events was unsatisfactory to Emmanuel.
The panel submitted its report in 2017 but the white paper was not released until a few days ago. That the Justice Umoekoyo Essang committee did a through job was evident in its report. According to the report which the government has rejected part of it, the panel indicted the pastor for culpability in the collapse as he disregarded all warnings made by the state building agency.
Read: White Paper On Reigners Bible Church Building Collapse: The Blood Of The Dead Shall Haunt Governor Emmanuel
But Udom won’t have any of that, he needed to protect his friend Akan Weeks. The state government in its white paper rejected the indictment of the Pastor and the panel’s suggestion that Akan Weeks be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, was also ignored. By this action, Governor Udom Emmanuel has betrayed the trust afforded him by families of the victims to act impartially and ensure that the deaths of their loved ones is taken with the seriousness it deserves and actions are taken to ensure a tragedy of this sort never reoccurs.
The state government’s refusal to listen to a panel it instituted is a clear disavowal of the Governor’s oath of office as he has failed to do right to all people as contained in his oath. His favoritism to the Pastor is a condemnable act.