Authorities of the Uyo church which collapsed last Saturday ignored a “Stop Work” order from the Uyo Capital Development Authority (UCCDA) and went ahead to build the church, according to reports.
Tragedy struck at the Reigners Bible Church International during the consecration service of its pastor, Akan Weeks, who was being elevated to bishop. Number of casualties are uncertain but some reports put the deaths in the hundreds.
Leadership newspaper quoted a source within the UCCDA who said that the church building was marked with a “stop work” sign in 2013 when it was at foundation level. The UCCDA which is in charge of land issues, enforcing and demolishing illegal structures, asked Pastor Akan Weeks to bring his building plan, structural design, environmental impact assessment (EIA) and other relevant documents relating to the building for assessment, professional advice, supervision and approval. Weeks refused.
Again in 2014, the Reigners Bible church was asked to stop work and the same requests were tabled but the notice was ignored, with the church reportedly accusing the authorities of fighting God.
“Pastor Akan Weeks used his connection in government to suppress UCCDA, and went ahead to raise such magnificent edifice without approval from UCCDA and other relevant agencies,” the source said.
Considering that the Akwa Ibom governor, Udom Emmanuel, was in the building when it collapsed, the question then is why the state chief executive chose to visit a church which had defied the directives of state authorities.
It should be pointed out however that Emmanuel was not governor at the time when the church reportedly defied the “stop work” order.
Meanwhile Pastor Weeks has attributed the collapse of his church building to demonic forces. In an interview with a radio station from his hospital bed, he said following the disaster, “the enthronement was cancelled completely and I am not interested. I’m more interested in the souls of the people I have laboured for to bring to God over the years since my tender age.”
He sympathised with victims of the crash and called on Christians to “rise and pray together.”
“Only God knows best and nobody can question him,” the Reigners Bible church pastor said. “And I want to say that for the departed souls and those who are injured, God will give them quick and speedy recovery. I want to tell every family that is in pain that our God is the healer.”