The General Overseer of Reigners Bible Church Int’l Inc. Apostle Akan Weeks yesterday told the commission of inquiry set up by the state government to investigate the cause of the collapse structure that he received verbal approval in principle to commence the construction of the site.
Weeks, while testifying before the commission, also said he paid N300, 000 to Etido Udoh, a member of staff of Uyo Capital City Development Authority, (UCCDA) as approval fee.
The church building collapsed while the consecration service of Weeks as a Bishop was in progress on December 10, last year, the roof caved in the middle and fell on the worshippers killing many and injuring hundreds.
When asked if he applied for the approval to develop and build a church on the site, Weeks said: “To be very honest. I am a man of God. I don’t believe in lies. We applied. That was in 2014. I applied with all the documents required. We applied through writing and there were other documents which I gave to them like the survey plan; structural design and so on.
“They also demanded for money (N300, 000) which I gave to them in my office. One Etido Udoh collected the money. No receipt was given to me at that instance but I was surprised after the December 10 incident while I was still in the hospital I had a call and somebody said he was from UCCDA (one Edito Udoh).
“He asked if he could speak with me when my wife picked the call. He insisted to see me and I told him I was not in town. He said he wanted to give me my church documents. I told him to reach my counsel. They returned my building document and the N300, 000 through one Mrs Ima David, a lawyer to my lawyer Ini Ekpo on January 4, 2017 at the premises of the court.”
The pastor, who also denied the claim by the UCCDA’s head of Town Planning Department, Effiong Akpan, that the church building had been marked for demolition five different times, said at no time did UCCDA official marked the building for demolition.
He said: “They (UCCDA) did not mark the building for demolition. Officials of UCCDA never came to mark ‘X’ to the church building. I never authorized anybody to remove the central pillar. I am not competent to do so because I am a layman.”
Weeks, who puts the contract sum for the roofing of the collapsed church building at N26million, said several experts bided for the job after which the church gave the job to one Mr. Idonreyin Daniel of White Steel Integrated Services.
His words: “When we got to the roofing stage, we made it open to the public. Some professionals came and tendered their quotations and we settled for Idonreyin White of White Steel Integrated Services. Quotations were also from Golden Wield Steel Company; Kemison Construction Services; Danny Steel Enterprises and Idem Dan Company. Idem Dan Company is also owned by White Steel Integrated Services Company.”
When a counsel to the Nigerian Society of Engineers, NSE and Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, Aniekan Akpan, asked Weeks while sending invitations out for his consecration as a Bishop if he told the invitees to come with their safety gears since the building was not completed, Weeks said he did not.
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