In an exclusive interview with Punch Metro, Charles Udoh, the Akwa Ibom State Commissioner for Information and Strategy, opened up on how he escaped death in the collapsed building of the Reigners Bible Church Int’l Inc in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom State, on Saturday.
Udoh who disclosed that he was not in the church for the programme, but went there to seek the permission of the state Governor, Udom Emmanuel, to travel to Lagos State, added that he watched the roof of the church building come down like a scene in a movie.
He said, “Just as I stood near Governor Udom Emmanuel to ask for his permission, I saw the roof coming down.
“I wanted to prevent the main pillar from hitting me; I also wanted to try to get between the iron rods. However, I picked up a chair and the thing slammed the chair off my hand and landed on my head.
“I didn’t fall, but my phone dropped. I bent down to find my phone when I realised that my face was covered with blood.
“At that moment, the only thing that came to my mind was to get out of the rubble before I lost consciousness. As I got out, I saw some policemen and I was rushed to a hospital.”
Udoh, who was sworn in as commissioner on December 1, said God saved his life so that he could serve his people.
“With the love I have received from the people of the state – the governor was here, the former governor and many others visited me – I am convinced that God has a purpose for me,” he said, adding that the government would soon release the actual number of the victims.
Also speaking, the Chief Press Secretary to the Governor, Ekerette Udoh, who was a victim, said an iron rod wanted to cut his neck, adding that it eventually hit him on the back.
He explained that the cap of his left knee was broken, adding that he was still in pains. “I am in pains; the iron fell on my left leg and back. The knee cap was broken and the leg fell apart,” he said.
For Ekere Nkanga, a Nollywood actor, he said the accident was from human error, adding that he had earlier observed that the church was under construction and the roof was partly covered.
He said, “Shortly after the governor and his entourage and the bishops took their seats, the next thing I heard was the bang from the falling iron.
“By the time the iron came down, I noticed that people from the safe areas were running to the centre, where I was sitting.
“I hid under some people. A few seconds later, as I was trying to get up, the body of a man cut into two and fell on me. There were other corpses on me. I looked out for my brother but I couldn’t find him.
“Later, I found my phone. I called the Chairman, Uyo Local Government Area, to mobilise rescue officials to the venue.
“Sincerely, I did not know I had a situation because I didn’t have a direct impact with falling rods. The impact of diving must have been responsible for my broken neck. It was in the evening when I felt a slight pain around my neck that I went to a hospital for an X-ray. By the time I came back for the result, I could no longer turn my neck; so, I was told I needed a neck collar and also needed to be admitted.”
|Pastor Akan Weeks|