STILL ON REIGNERS CHURCH BUILDING COLLAPSE
In furtherance of our desire to keep the public informed on developments concerning the collapse of the Reigners Bible Church Building on Saturday, December 10, 2016. The Office of the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor of Akwa Ibom State wishes to state as follows:
In the aftermath of the incident, the State Governor, His Excellency Mr Udom Emmanuel personally supervised rescue efforts and the evacuation of several victims to nearby hospitals for immediate medical attention. He also ensured that specialist medical experts like neurosurgeons, orthopaedic surgeons and the like were immediately brought in from other parts of the country to assist in managing the critical cases arising from the unfortunate incident.
Initially, it was difficult to ascertain the state of health of many of the victims as they were taken to various hospitals all over the city to forestall stretching the manpower and equipment of some hospitals beyond the limits of professional competence.
However, after making the rounds of all the hospitals concerned, and in consultation with officials of the health and security services who were directly involved in the rescue operations, the figures we have been able to reconcile indicate that 26 people passed on as a result of this incident. There are few unreconciled cases of not more than three persons and we are working to reconcile these figures as soon as possible.
The Government is at a loss as to how members of the public came by the alarming and bogus figures being bandied around by rumour mongers and some sections of the media. The Government believes that it is morally wrong to seek to make profit from this tragedy by publishing sensational figures in order to boost newspaper sales, listenership or viewership.
Government urges those who are yet to locate their loved ones to contact the Information Centre at the Ministry of Health through these telephone numbers for assistance. The numbers are 08035432236; 08023176595.
As much as we understand their desire to claim the remains of their loved ones, Government also wishes to appeal to the family members of those who passed on to exercise patience as their demands would be met as soon as the security agencies conclude their investigations. This is standard practice under these circumstances.
The two days of mourning in honour of our deceased brothers and sisters declared by the State Government culminated in a well-attended Solemn Assembly at the Banquet Hall of the Government House. Prayers were said for the repose of the souls of those who passed on and the quick recovery of those still being treated in hospitals.
Government is set to streamline the processes involved in the monitoring and enforcement of relevant building regulations, especially with regard to public buildings to ensure that they meet professional standards. Henceforth only public buildings which have passed the necessary safety certifications would be allowed to host public events. Government is committed to doing all that is necessary to ensure that this unprecedented event never happens again.
Government wishes to inform members of the general public that the site of this unfortunate incident is an active investigation site. As it is the practice worldwide under these circumstances, access to this site is restricted ONLY to investigators cleared for that purpose. The Panel of Enquiry into this incident set up by the Government is commencing work immediately. Government wishes to urge members of the public to discountenance any purported claims of enquiry or investigations into this tragedy by any organisation or entity as the Panel set up by Government is made up of seasoned professionals in the engineering and building profession and the work of the panel will be independent, fair and thorough. We wish to restate for the avoidance of doubt that any persons found culpable would be made to face the full weight of the law irrespective of tribe, religion or status in the society.
We are grateful to the various individuals, groups and organisations who have expressed the desire to make contributions to the welfare and treatment of those injured in this incident. In view of the magnitude of this tragedy, and the enormous resources required to give adequate medical attention to the injured, we are appealing to corporate organisations, professional bodies, humanitarian organisations, public spirited individuals and groups to contribute to their medical care. Such contributions should be channelled to the AKSG Account Number 1010389604 with Zenith Bank Plc. We assure the general public that proceeds from these contributions will be put to proper use for the purpose for which it is intended.
We appreciate the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR, for his consoling words to the People of the state on this occasion. We also wish to express our immense appreciation to the Vice President, The Senate President and other members of the National Assembly, The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, All State Governors, The Minister of Health, the Minister of Budget and National Planning, The Minister of Finance, The Minister of Information, Service Chiefs, The Governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Director-General of the Nigeria Governors Forum, Corporate Organisations, Religious Leaders , Royal Fathers, and indeed all friends and well-wishers of the State who have sent in condolence messages to us.
We appreciate the efforts of all the doctors and other medical personnel who have been working round the clock to attend to the victims of this incident. We also thank the construction companies, voluntary agencies and other well-meaning citizens who assisted in the search, rescue and evacuation of the victims to the hospitals.
Government requests all citizens and friends of the state not to relent in their prayers for the state. May God continue to bless Akwa Ibom State.
December 14, 2016