The Akwa Ibom state government is yet to release the report of the fatal Reigners Bible Church collapse which killed 27 people and injured 37 on December 10, 2016, Premium Times reports. The place of worship was under construction when it collapsed.
NAIJ.com gathers that the human rights community in the state has renewed calls for the state government to release the report of the judicial commission of inquiry set up to investigate the incident, as a matter of urgency. The commission, headed by Justice Umoekoyo Essang (rtd), submitted its report to the state government in July.
A Lagos-based lawyer and human rights campaigner, Inibehe Effiong, bashed the state government for abandoning the families of those killed during the incident, and refusing to foot the hospital bills of those in hospital.
Reigners Bible Church collapsed on December 10, 2016 (Photo credit: NAIJ.com).
He described the government’s response as ‘very unfortunate’. He stated: “It clearly shows that government has interest in not doing justice in the matter because like we have maintained consistently, the founder of the church is known to be a personal friend of the governor. “The government, from the information we had, even contributed to the building of the church. All these clearly show conflict of interest. “This is why, for example, rather than ordering for the prosecution of those who were culpable, the government had to set up a judicial commission of inquiry. “And several months after the panel submitted its report, the government has refused to make the report public.” He stated further: “Importantly, it should be noted that at the commission of inquiry, which I had the opportunity of participating, it was clearly shown by the government agency, the Uyo Capital City Development Authority, that orders were issued by that authority to the church to discontinue the building construction, but they went ahead. “The founder of the church defied the order and went ahead with the construction.” Effiong stated that people were worried about how the case was being handled by the government.
The state government was also accused of having an interest in the matter, by Franklyn Isong, a journalist and public affair analyst who has been campaigning for the release of the commission’s report. He said the victims’ families could sue the government over the matter, and called for December 10 to be set aside to honour the victims. However, when contacted, the state commissioner for justice, Uwemedimo Nwoko, gave the assurance that the report would be released soon.
He said: “The report was submitted to the government and then in line with the due process of law the government set up an administrative committee to study the report and make recommendations for the issuance of a white paper. “That has been done, and the report of that committee has been submitted to the government. The gazette would soon be made public.”
Thompson Emmanuel, 32, one of the victims, said he could not understand why the building collapsed on worshipers..