Almost eight years after escaping death from a collapsed church building that killed several people in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, the former governor of the state, Udom Emmanuel said, the incident remains a mystery to him.
Mr Emmanuel was a guest of the founder of Reigners Bible Church, Akan Weeks, who was billed for consecration as a Bishop on 10 December 2016 – the day the church building caved in.
The blaring sounds of musical instruments and shouts of joy were suddenly replaced with stampede, tears and weeping over the tragic incident.
Confusion engulfed the state as people became worried over the safety of the governor who later addressed the people through a state-wide broadcast.
Speaking on Sunday in a Thanksgiving Service and Reception organised in his honour by the United Evangelical Church (Founded as Qua Iboe Church) in Lagos, Mr Emmanuel, who became emotional while recalling the incident said, the collapsed structure shattered the seat he was sitting.
Mr Emmanuel said his eyes became teary when the pastor, in the Thanksgiving service, spoke about the collapse of the church building.
“I thank God (that) he prayed immediately.
“It would have been probably, I don’t know, probably you would have waited for December to do a memorial service but today I’m here alive,” Mr Emmanuel said.
“It’s still a mystery in the course of my serving the people that I cannot decode. We cannot mention what happened that day but trust me as the pastor said, the same white seat that I was sitting, the central conics of the whole building shattered the seat. Where I was I don’t know but I came out alive not even a scratch,” he said in a testimony that was intermittently interrupted by applause from the congregants.
“The bible says let the living praise the Lord,” he continued.
“There are so many multiple wonders that I might not be able to say it all but I want to summarise as (Biblical) David said. He said this God who has shown us marvellous kindness in a strong city.”
The former governor thanked God and the people for supporting him throughout his 10 years in political office – he first served for two years as a secretary to Akwa Ibom State Government before serving for two terms as governor.
He said that his greatest regret was that as governor he had no control over national policies, adding that Akwa Ibom would have been miles ahead of where it is today.
Reigners Church Collapse
The Reigners Bible Church, which was at Uyo Village Road, some meters from Government House, Uyo, was still under construction when it caved in during the consecration service, killing several people.
The Akwa Ibom State Government had set up a Judicial Commission of Enquiry headed by a retired judge, Umoekoyo Essang, to investigate the incident.
The commission submitted its report to the state government in 2017 and indicted the church founder, Mr Weeks.
The commission in its report said that Mr Week’s “undue interference” in the construction work was responsible for the building collapse.
However, the state government under Mr Emmanuel, who is a close friend of the church founder, rejected the recommendations of the report saying “Facts available indicate that Apostle Akan Weeks relied on the professionals he engaged.”
Despite public outcry on the incident, the state government has refused to prosecute the people indicted by the commission, leaving the victims without justice.
In his testimonies on Sunday, Mr Emmanuel thanked God that his wife did not attend the event, suggesting that the fatality figures would have been more.
“I also thank God that day my wife did not attend that programme. It could have been a different story. You know women move like black swans, in droves. Women would have filled up that place and only God knows what would have happened but God saved us,” he said.
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