To unravel the truth on the circumstance surrounding the collapsed building which claimed heavy casualties at Reigners Bible International Church, Uyo on 10th December 2016, the Akwa Ibom State chapter of Civil Liberty Organization (CLO), on Friday, constituted a seven-man committee saddled with the task of coming up with a comprehensive report on the incident within fourteen days at least, and twenty-one days at most. The inaugural meeting took place at Libertas Solicitors chambers at Ndiya Street, Uyo.
The civil society’s response to the tragedy came on the heels of inauguration of Commission of Inquiry on the collapsed building by Akwa Ibom State government three days earlier. During the inauguration of the committee made up of eminent civil rights activists and journalists, the Akwa Ibom State CLO Chairman, Barr. Clifford Thomas said in his inaugural speech, that the civil society has the responsibility to inquire into the tragic event in order to come up with a report that would be more independent.
“This body is hereby inaugurated according to the laws of the land and by the authority of the Fundamental Rights Enforcement Procedures (FREP rules). We are enacting this to ensure that we come up with something more independent.
“A lot of things have been said, and the government has set up a committee recently ago, and we believe that the civil society also owes the society a duty by coming up with something more independent that could also help to get to the bottom of the truth.
“We will reach out to the bereaved families and those that were injured during the unfortunate incident of December 10. We will also do our best to highlight the human rights issues involved therein, and we will do our best to ensure that the truth is told. We will be reaching out to several authorities such as the police, DSS, Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC), and every other security agencies and allied health bodies and institutions that helped with the rescue and search operations. We hope to conclude this assignment in fourteen days hopefully. It will not be later than twenty-one days: it would be fourteen days at least, and twenty-one days at most.
“We hope to get full details of the victims. We want to bring full-fledged report that reflects the victims’ views, and then we catalogue all those who died, and we need to know them by name” the CLO Chairman said.
Thomas revealed that there will be room for claims and objections so that those who feel they are not properly represented by the information given by the government or any other authority could come out and tell the society that the information so published was not correct, and then they would give auxiliary information they have in order to support the report the committee would be putting forward. He further said that the committee would be working with professional bodies including Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) and several others saddled with the task of regulating building in Nigeria. He added that the committee’s report would be published locally, nationally and internationally.
According to their terms of reference, the civil society’s committee would seek to inquire into the remote and immediate cause of the tragedy; identify person(s) who authorized the construction against the best practices; identify the exact number of victims which include the dead, the injured and the traumatized; get the statistics, and calculate the compensation accruable. The committee would also make far-reaching recommendations that would forestall reoccurrence in the future.
However, the members of the committee include Barr. Clifford Thomas (Chairman), Barr. Paul Nyambi, Mrs. Anne Udonte, Mr. Ndon Asian, Mr. Nsibiet John, Barr. Gabriel Udoh, and Barr. Ita Bassey Duke.