The Commission of Inquiry into the collapsed Reigners Bible Church in Akwa Ibom on Monday (today) heard that the church was built on unapproved site.
The state counsel, Friday Itim, made the revelation in Uyo, while cross examining the owner of the church, Akan Weeks.
Reigners Bible Church collapsed on December 10, 2016 killing at least 27 people, according to the police.
Mr. Itim said the site in which the collapsed Reigners Bible Church was sited had been designated by Akwa Ibom Government as conservation zone due to its topography.
He said that the state government had advertised that no one should build on the site in the Weekend Pioneer of Friday, October 20, 2000.
Mr. Itim also said that the collapsed church was not approved by the Uyo Capital City Development Authority (UCCDA) as at the time the building was commenced.
He said the application for Certificate of Occupancy by Mr. Weeks dated February 22, 2012 was denied because the area was marked as conservation zone by government.
Aniekan Akpan, Counsel to the Nigeria Society of Engineers, NSE, also said that there was no scientific soil analysis before the commencement of the building to determine whether the land was good enough for church auditorium.
Mr. Akpan, who is also Chairman, Nigeria Bar Association in the state, made this known during the cross examination of Mr. Weeks.
He said that the collapsed church in its design had 58 trusses while the collapsed building had only eight trusses.
In his response, Mr. Weeks told the commission that he bought the land from Hogan Bassey in 2009.
Mr. Weeks also said that he applied to UCCDA for approval to build the collapsed structure, but was given approval in principle.
He said that he submitted all the necessary documents of the building to UCCDA through its secretary.
He, however, admitted that Etido Udoh came to his office to collect N300,000 being fee for registration, but without receipt.
“I was given approval in principle through a telephone call by Mr Etido Udoh, who came to my office to collect N300, 000 as approval fee to commence building in 2015,” he said.
He added that on January 4, 2017, Mr. Udoh returned the N300,000 and documents without any official stamp or signature of Uyo Capital City Development Authority.
He explained that the best of hands were involved in the construction of the collapsed church building.
According to him, Architect Abimbola Oke, Uwem Okoko of HENSEK Construction Company and Idoreying Daniel, among others, were employed to handle the construction of the collapsed church building.
Mr. Weeks denied that he instructed the engineers to remove the scaffold that was at the centre of the building to support the truss. (Source: PremiumTimes)