Asaba collapsed Building: Delta govt vows to prosecute culprits, sets up panel of inquiry 

...as pastor's daughter, three infants counted among victims

By Gabriel Elozino, Asaba

The Delta state Government said it has constituted a panel of inquiry to look into the Tuesday’s collapse of the building housing the Okpanam branch of Salvation Ministry International, in Oshimili North local government area of the state, vowing to prosecute anyone culpable in the pandemonium. 

This is as investigation reveals that the daughter of the Assistant Pastor of the church was among four infants that died in the incident.

Reacting to the incident shortly after visiting the collapse site and the Asaba Specialist Hospital, where some survivors are currently receiving treatments, the state Deputy Governor, Barr. Kingsley Otuaro confirmed that four persons have so far lost their lives.

He said, “first and foremost we want to thank God for what has happened, because in my inspection visit we found out that it could have been worse because we found out that that building was almost a total collapse and we understand that we had a lot of children upstairs when the building came down completely, so it could have been worse.

Delta state deputy governor, Kingsley Otuaro, Oshimili North local government chairman, Innocent Esewenze and other government officials inspecting the site of the building collapse.

 “I want to thank God for the coordinated responses of the various ministries, departments and agencies in the rescue operation such that we are able to have so many alive with minimal casualty as it were. I would have been competent to tell you what truly is the cause as it were of the collapse of that building but as a government we have made a consummated effort in the setting up of a panel of inquiry to look into the immediate remote cause of the collapse of that facility and the report thereto would be made public.

“In no distant time we will be hearing the report of that panel and whoever that is culpable, off course wevening will have the relevant laws taking its course.

“So far we have unfortunately had four losses and like I said it could have been worse but I thank God for the prompt response of the MDAs that conducted the rescue operation.

“The reports from the medical personnel for the survivors is very hopeful and heart worming as it were and from what I also saw the patients are responding well and I know many of them will be discharged in no distant time.

“As to the bills, we are an integral part of all that happened just as we stated it in the beginning. We are going to stand by them, they are our children, they are our people and we are a responsible government, we are going to do all in our power ensuring that all is well with the respective families.”

The Senior Pastor in charge of the church could not be reached, however, a senior member of the church detailed to address government officials on the incident and who spoke in confidence to the Chairman of Oshimili North Local government, Mr. Innocent Esewenze, said the collapse of the building was a result of an extension being attached to the main building. 

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He disclosed that the church was not the owner of the building but only rented it from its original owner, one Ben Okonkwo who later sold it out to someone else.

He said, “we did not even know the building was sold until the new owner started constructing an expansion to the main building. We didn’t see what they were doing because the downstairs has iron doors and they sealed it, so we don’t know what they are doing.

“Whenever they come in and work, they lock the door so we couldn’t see what was  happening all we were hearing was the noise they make when they are working. What happened was that, they wanted to build a mall behind. So the pillars that was holding the building because it was constituting a barrier to what they wanted to construct, the now cut them off, but we didn’t know that they have done that before the unfortunate incident.”

Speaking to newsmen, some of the rescuers and survivors described the incident as a huge disaster.

Mr. Oyenka Chukwu Precious, a tricycle rider, who himself sustained major bruises while trying to rescue the victims, said, “yesterday when I was driving down Okpanam, I saw the building and I asked, hope there are no people there, they said the were doing service. So I had to park my keke and see if I can render some assistance.

Rescuer, Oyenka Precious

“So we brought out some little children and some other matured persons. In the process of bring them we broke the entrance of the other Street because there was a lady that was too big for us to carry and the entrance was blocked, so we got to break the fence and see how we can rush her to the clinic nearby. It was in the process that I got this bruises on my face. It was a black day yesterday. 

“I can’t really count the number of persons we brought out, because it was not something you just go and bring out the person, it took about 30 minutes to bring out one person. But I think before I left, because the keke was not my own, we have brought out about 7 persons and they were still alive. It was only the woman that was not breathing before we took her to the clinic.”

Speaking from a wheel chair at the Asaba Specialist Hospital, one of the survivor, Faith Akama said, “I am really grateful to God for keeping me alive. That is all I have to say because the bible said in everything we should give thanks.”

According Sandra Odigbo, another survivor being treated at the same hospital said she was grateful to God and expressed her belief that God will heal her.

Also speaking, Mr. Wessey Paul, a father of one of the survivor, Lucious Wessey, four years old boy, said, “my sister in law took two of my sons and two of her sons to the church, although I am a member of the church but I did not go to church that day. Hearing my children were involved in this incident It is not something to talk about, it was a terrible experience but I am still thanking God for life, I believe with time he will heal and get better because he is still a child.

“The other children are okay, is just my sister in law that is in serious condition. We have just done x-ray what they want to do now is to take him to the theatre and do what they want to do. I was in the office when they called me. I went to FMC, they were not there, I came to this place (Asaba Specialist Hospital) they were not here until one of the red cross now told me that they rushed some persons to one clinic, so I went there in saw them but I was not satisfied with the treatment they are giving them so I brought them to this place.”

Ifeoma Obiesi, said, “I just came back from Benin, I was rushing, even on the way I was disturbing the driver that he should be fast that I was going for a programme but surprising, when I got to the church the programme has started. Immediately I just entered, the noise I heard made me to step out again and before I knew it, it was the building the came down. That was how God saved me. I thank God for everything, I have to appreciate him, not that I am happy because of my brethren that were affected but I still have to thank him. 

“Because of the shock, I could not join in the rescue, I was just standing there until one brother now took me to a corner to sit down.”


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