January 04, 2017

Uyo church collapse: Panel orders architect’s release

The commission of enquiry into the collapse of Reigners Bible Church on Uyo Village Road in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State capital, yesterday ordered Police Commissioner Murtala Mani to release an architect and a suspect, Mr. Anietie Augustine, from custody.

The chairman of the commission, Justice Umoekoyo Essang (retd), having listened to Mr. Ini Ekpo, lawyer to the founder of church, Apostle Akan Weeks, adjourned hearing on the matter till January 6.
Ekpo said relevant documents, such as the architectural design, building plan and the survey plan, were with Augustine, who had been in police custody for alleged negligence in the incident.
According to The Nation, the lawyer said except Augustine was released to give evidence, the case would not go smoothly.
He said the defence had explored several legal means to bail Augustine from detention but the police were uncooperative.

The lawyer noted that Augustine’s release would expose several hidden facts about the collapse of church building.
He added that his client was detained “for being the one to design the structure” although he knew that his client did not design any of the aspects of the collapsed church building.

The lawyer expressed gratitude for the release of his client.
According to him, the police first said those in custody were there on the instruction of the state government, adding that the police did not have the power to release them.
Ekanem said the next time they went to the police, they were told that the detainees were held on the order of the pastor.
The lawyer quoted the police as saying that unless the pastor asked the police to release the people, they could not do so.
He said: “He (Augustine) merely volunteered to carry out the design, which was already made by people that he has named. Somebody designed the roof, somebody else designed the structure. So, he merely went to supervise what was already planned, drawn and designed.
“I met him on two occasions while in detention. He gave me what I’m just telling you now. I asked him about his roles. He said nothing, that he merely volunteered – as he worshipped in that church – to check the project. He told me that he only joined the workforce as a member and worshipper of the church.
“Why do we now leave the people who designed the building and mapped out everything and concentrate on the people that merely assisted? It is like leaving the substance to chase the shadow.”

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