REIGNERS CHURCH BUILDING COLLAPSE: APC calls on the bereaved families, Akwa Ibom people to reject government implementation of report.
All Progressives Congress (APC) has call on the bereaved families and relations of the injured, and indeed, the whole of Akwa Ibom people to reject Akwa Ibom State government implementation of report of the Commission of Inquiry into the collapse of Reigners Bible Church building in, Uyo.
This was contained in a press statement on Thursday signed by, Edet Eyo Bassey, Akwa Ibom State APC Publicity Secretary.
Akwa Ibom State Governor, Mr. Udom Emmanuel on Wednesday set machinery in motion to implement the report of the collapse Reigners Bible Church building in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
The state Commissioner for Information and Strategy Mr. Charles Udoh, in a press statement, said the state Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr. Uwemedimo Nwoko, had been mandated to commence the process of taking appropriate actions against all persons found culpable in the church building collapse on December, 10, 2016.
Below is the full statement issued by Akwa Ibom State All Progressives Congress (APC)
ALL PROGRESSIVES CONGRESS
AKWA IBOM STATE CHAPTER
RE: IMPLEMENTATION REPORT ON REIGNERS CHURCH BUILDING COLLAPSE
Akwa Ibom people were shocked yesterday when their state government announced its decision on the Commission of Enquiry on the Reigners Church building collapse. The decision came via a flimsy press statement signed by the Commissioner for Information and Strategy. It contained neither succour to the bereaved families nor specific course of action to prevent a reoccurrence of such a tragedy. At the inauguration of the Commission of Enquiry to investigate the remote and immediate causes of the collapse church building, the state Governor, Deacon Udom Emmanuel had promised to take decisive actions to bring to justice those found culpable of the deaths and injuries to innocent worshippers on that fateful day.
After the sitting of the Commission and the submission of its report in July 2017, family members of the dead and injured victims and, indeed, concerned citizens patiently awaited the release of Government’s White Paper on the report. But instead, the Commissioner for Information and Strategy, Mr. Charles Udoh yesterday issued a prescription designed by government to deceive the people and protect the culprits. A critical analysis of the commissioner’s statement, particularly the choice of words, betrays hidden and dubious interest of government as widely speculated. Of course, it’s becoming clearer that this government has a lot to hide. There are clear, obvious and inherent indications in the recommendation issued by government that serves to confirm that this government cannot be trusted to tell the truth. Having tried unsuccessfully to sweep matters under the carpet, the government has now come up with a statement fraught with subterfuge to subvert the course of justice.
From inception, we had premonition that Deacon Udom Emmanuel’s choice of a Commission of Enquiry (instead of a Coroner’s Inquest under the Coroner’s Law of Akwa Ibom State) was a ruse to deceive the people having regards to the provisions of the Commission of Enquiry Law of Akwa Ibom state. The law precludes punitive measures and forbids testimonies and related evidence obtained at sittings in the Commission from being tendered in regular courts to secure civil or criminal convictions. In other words, the Commission has no powers for criminal prosecution and punishment. To our mind, the import and purport of the Commission was not to secure conviction and or punishment for persons found culpable.
Nothing in paragraph 3 of the Press Release states that culprits shall be prosecuted and punished. It states inter-alia; “The Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice has been mandated to commence the process of taking appropriate actions against all persons found culpable in the church building collapse. All cases of proven professional negligence will be dealt with decisively within the ambit of the law ….”. The question is, who determines what constitutes appropriate action? Is the word “prosecute” too heavy to mention?
When a few years ago the Synagogue Church of All Nations collapsed in Lagos killing and wounding many, Lagos State Government deployed the Coroner’s Law to full measure. Akwa Ibom has a similar law. The Coroner’s law allows the Coroner to investigate, prosecute and secure conviction for culprits. That would have been the way to go if indeed the Government of Akwa Ibom state intended for the culprits to be held accountable and commensurately punished.
Whoever advised Deacon Emmanuel cannot feign ignorance of the Coroner’s Law but knowingly opted for a Commission of Enquiry in order to protect hidden interests and subvert the course of justice. Under the Commission of Enquiry law of the state, evidence obtained from and in the course of the sittings of the Commission are inadmissible against anyone in civil or criminal proceedings. Perhaps, that is where Udom found succour to cause the stir and outrage that has trailed the implementation report published by the Commissioner.
It is reported on good authority that the Commission indicted government for failing to properly exercise its regulatory functions during the construction of the collapsed church building. As expected and customary with this government such an indictment cannot find space in the public domain. Except the government, no one else can tell of cases of proven misconduct or professional negligence. We do not expect the Attorney General being part of the government to be fair and just in dealing with any such cases. The posturing and actions of government leaves no one in doubt of a well-orchestrated design to sweep the truth under the carpet.
We condemn in very strong terms every attempt by government to conceal the Commission’s Report and play down the seriousness of the matter specifically pertaining to those culpable of the death of innocent worshippers. As a commentator rightly observed: “It is one thing to bungle governance and fix the Reigners Church building collapse Report for the sake of 2019 election, but it is adding salt to injury to take discerning Akwa Ibomites for fools who can be manipulated with a rubbish Report”.
The APC therefore calls on the bereaved families and relations of the injured, and indeed, the whole of Akwa Ibom people to reject this clever cover-up by the Udom Emmanuel administration. This cover-up is clearly a continued pattern of opacity, dishonesty and obfuscation with which Governor Emmanuel has been conducting affairs of the state.
Edet Eyo Bassey (Esq.)
State Publicity Secretary
APC, Akwa Ibom State Chapter
Dated 22nd February 2018