COLLAPSE BUILDING: CAN Consoles With Salvation Ministry Over Loses
...as pastor narrates incident.
By Gabriel Elozino, Asaba
Delta State chapter of the Christian Association of Nigeria, CAN, has condoled with the families of those who lost loved ones and the leadership of Salvation Ministry International over the recent Okpanam collapsed building.
The state Chairman, Apostle Sylvester Okorote, who led members of the Association to the site of the incident and to the hospitals where survivors are being treated, pointed that the Ministry was and integral part of the continued peace and unity being enjoyed in the state.
He described the incident as unfortunate and prayed God to empower the church to forget the incident as soon as possible.
His words, “This is one church that is contributing to the peace and unity in the state so we have to come and identify with them and assess what happened. We are leaving now for the hospital to pray for the patients. It is quite unfortunate and we pray that this doesn’t happen again.
“I can’t point out the cause because I am a marine engineer, not a structural engineer so I want to advice pastors, we know the scriptures, we know the word of God, we work with the Holy Spirit but there are people who are experts on things like this, there are structural engineers, there are building engineers, let us always ensure that their expertise is brought into this kind of thing.
“Our condolences to the families that lost their dear ones, we pray for them, we pray God to comfort them and fill the vacuum that the departure of their loved ones has created. As for the church we pray that they will overcome this very soon.”
Also speaking, Oshimili South CAN Chairman, Evangelist Chuks Okonta, said, “we are shocked at what we saw, we looked at the building and we saw there is an expansion going on. It has happened, it is a tragedy, it is unfortunate, and we are not happy about it.
Narrating the incident to CAN delegation, one of the pastor of the ministry, Pastor Uche Chimezie, pointed that contrary to speculations, the church never bought the collapsed building, adding that the construction work that led to the incidence was being carried out by the new owner of the building.
He added that, the pastor of the church had on several occasions had confrontation with the new landlord of the building over the construction, as it was going against the tenancy agreement of the church with the previous landlord.
He said, “what happened was that the they were doing an expansion on the building. The building was sold to a new owner, he brought his engineer, that is his car, since it happened, he has not come. They said they want to convert the building into a shopping mall, when we are still here and our rent is still on.
“We went back to our former landlord, Barr. Okonkwo that our rent is still on and they are doing this, he told us not to worry that by the end of this January he will give us our balance, then we will go and get somewhere else. So we were here, they were working, they were pulling blocks down. On Monday they put blocks in our passage and the pastor went to meet them, why are you blocking where ventilation use to enter the church? They said they are working and that was the instruction given to them. I heard that on that Monday the pastor had a confrontation with them.
“On that Monday, the guy selling tiles at the bottom moved out. The tiles boys told me they were just hanging around to see customers that will come and look for them, so they can direct them to their new location, so they were here till 5pm that day. So our pastor here who is injured and in the hospital tried to stop them, but they said they must work. We didn’t know that they will enter inside and lock the door to work so that no one can gain entrance.
“There was a wall here, with reinforcement pillars to follow, after building this structure, they now cut off the reinforcement pillars. They cut off a pillar that is carrying the decking. According to him he wanted to link the two building to have a bigger hall. They did this cutting on Monday.
“Now as a pastor, when somebody is doing this kind of thing inside your church, you will go and check, but they always lock the iron door that is here, because it was a wall and nowhere to enter. So on Tuesday, they worked on Monday and Tuesday morning. On Tuesday, we are doing a 21 days fasting and prayer programme that will terminate with this programme. It started on the 10th. Every evening, people come to break their fast and pray.
“On Tuesday our members came, close to 150 persons came to pray. They have done praise and worship. As at when the want to take Holy Communion, our G.O had just instructed everyone to sit down, because our service was via satellite, the building came sliding this way because the pillars are no more.
“People have been going round town that Salvation ministry bought the building, that is not true, we didn’t buy, we are tenants. If the landlord had given us our money, we would have left, but they didn’t give us money, they were building and worst of all, he brought a quack to do the job. All the people coming here, the society of engineers, and Architects all said the same thing that you cannot cut the pillars of the building.
“So the building fell this way, women and children slided this way with speakers and instruments sliding on children, it was terrible. You know the devil come to kill to steal and to destroy but God delivered them. The plan of the devil was to kill the whole 150 persons but the God we served saved us. it is very unfortunate that as at this moment we have lost three persons, which we were able to recognise, the fourth person, we are yet identify. Two children and one woman.