Home / Column / Editorial / A HEADLINE NEWS NIGERIA INVESTIGATION: Who Ordered The Removal Of The Scaffold Supporting Reigners Bible Church, 24 hrs Before The Event? Was It The Church, The Engineer or the Akwa Ibom State Government Protocol Department?
Editor-in-Chief, Who ordered its removal? Justice Must Make Its Call!

A HEADLINE NEWS NIGERIA INVESTIGATION: Who Ordered The Removal Of The Scaffold Supporting Reigners Bible Church, 24 hrs Before The Event? Was It The Church, The Engineer or the Akwa Ibom State Government Protocol Department?

A HEADLINE NEWS NIGERIA INVESTIGATION:

Who Ordered The Removal Of The Scaffold Supporting Reigners Bible Church, 24 hrs Before The Event? Was It The Church, The Engineer or the Akwa Ibom State Government Protocol Department?

Accusing fingers are pointing to a high level cover up….

The night dance is carefully threaded by those who understand the strength of the earth’s core. The day belongs to the eyes that welcome the morning. Don’t say God understands when you don’t know how God’s mind works. Don’t lay the blame on diabolic malfeasance, evil spirits have no power over engineering buffoons.

The tragedy of some men in authority is not intellect, but their brilliant malfunctioned ill informed crooked minds. Who gave the order that murdered hundreds of our citizens in cold blood, that is what we should start asking today! This is a personal tragedy to me, Reigners Bible Church is 20 metres from my own church, The Redeemed Christian Church of God, we have lost many friends and family members. We need answers!

Reigners building was constructed as a load bearing structure, with weight from the roof distributed to its beams, walls, columns and foundation. But what’s most important the pressure from the Trusses (the heavy metal irons in the ceiling responsible for the deaths of many) exerted at the roof’s centre, should have exerted enough pressure against each other to prevent a collapse.

If you are reading this piece try out this simple experiment, take your left forefinger and your right forefinger and rest them on each other at the tip, the pressure from your arms is what keeps them stuck together. That was the technology employed in constructing Reigners Bible Church, pressure kept the Trusses together and distributed load across its beams, columns and walls. However while construction was still ongoing the central scaffold should not have been removed, it was the only structure bearing the weight of the entire roof and securing the Trusses from imploding.

Other questions people are asking, did the welders fuse the Trusses properly? Did the structural engineer properly compute the load  bearing capacity of the entire roof structure?  If there was an iota of doubt in his mind did he convey this doubt to the order from above? People have a right to  ask who ordered the removal of the scaffold?

To my  traumatised  Christian community begging for answers and saying  the devil has attacked us, permit me to say this; God in His infinite wisdom found it expedient to create Adam’s frame with a central column, a bony vertebrae man calls the,’Spine’. In the creation of Woman God begins with a core, a bone He calls the, ‘Rib’. God’s design was simple – the spine supports the human frame, the rib re-enforces the spine by anchoring the body’s diaphragm to the vertebrates, that way man’s soft tissues are kept firm, erect and secure. God even goes further, to Man’s foundational structures He gave feet and legs, secured with massive bones to hold man up against earth’s buffeting elements.

Therefore this is not the devil assaulting us, when the ego and foolishness of the 21st century mortal,  informs him to exceed the wisdom of God you will have tragedies such as this however common enquiry and research often unravels the mystery of what went wrong. It was not the devil! After careful research, reading up papers on structural collapse, I may have arrived at what caused the terrible tragedy on the 10th of December 2016.

It Is Called,” Ultimate Failure Strength”

Reigner’s Chapel did not collapse gradually it was sudden giving worshippers little or no time to escape. People heard a sound and suddenly the roof caved in. This sort of sudden structural failure is initiated when the material is stressed beyond its strength limit, thus causing fracture or excessive deformation. If Reigner’s Church had been well designed a localised failure would have simply caused a progressive collapse of the roofing structure. The strength and elasticity of the Trusses would  still have held the structure in place giving the members enough time to escape but unfortunately this did not happen- what victims witnessed was a sudden ultimate failure strength, it means there was a fundamental error in the structural engineering and structural design of the building.

Accusing fingers are pointing at Reigners Church building committee, people are saying, undue pressure on the engineers to hurry up with the roofing work caused fatal compromises on the structure’s integrity.

Before the engineer decided to remove the scaffold one of the questions I am persuaded to ask, did he consider the mechanical properties of the materials, such as toughness, strength, weight, hardness, and elasticity, and then determine a suitable size, thickness, or shape that will withstand the desired load, stress and pressure, when removing the scaffold? A material with high strength may resist bending, but, without adequate toughness, it may have to be very large to support a load and prevent breaking. However, a material with low strength will likely bend under a load even though its high toughness prevents fracture. A material with low elasticity may be able to support a load with minimum deflection (flexing), but can be prone to fracture from fatigue, while a material with high elasitcity may be more resistant to fatigue, but may produce too much deflection unless the object is drastically oversized. A structural engineer must carefully compute and balance the properties of all materials with its different sizes and the load it intends to support.

What the Akwa Ibom State High Powered Panel Of Enquiry Should Look Out For;

1) Did the structural engineer select the correct size of materials?

The first, whether due to size, shape, or the choice of material, is that the structure is not strong and tough enough to support the load. If the structure or component is not strong enough, catastrophic failure can occur when the overstressed construction reaches a critical stress level.

2) Did the architectural design cause fatigue and stress on the roof materials?

People have talked about the location of the church close to the ravine, was the soil unstable, did an uneven topography put any form of stress on the building? Or was it a question of geometry or a design or material fault, causing the structure to fail from fatigue. These types of failure often occur at stress points, such as squared corners or from bolt holes being too close to the material’s edge, causing cracks to slowly form and then progress through cyclic loading. Failure generally occurs when the cracks reach a critical length, causing breakage to happen suddenly under normal loading conditions.

3)Did Reigners structural engineer stick to strict material specification?

The third type of failure is caused by manufacturing errors. This may be due to improper selection of materials, incorrect sizing, improper heat treating, failing to adhere to the design, or shoddy workmanship. These types of failure can occur at any time, and are usually unpredictable.

4) Did somebody try to cut corners by buying substandard material from questionable sources?

The fourth is also unpredictable, from the use of defective materials. The material may have been improperly manufactured, or may have been damaged from prior use.

5) This is unlikely but nothing should be ruled out, was there any form of sabotage to the roof?

The fifth cause of failure is from lack of consideration of unexpected problems. Vandalism, sabotage, and natural disasters can all overstress a structure to the point of failure.

6) Was the structural engineer qualified?

What Reigner’s Church needed was a highly qualified and experienced structural engineer, it would be interesting to look at the qualifications of those who took on this job? Structural engineers are trained to understand, predict, and calculate the stability, strength and rigidity of built structures for buildings, how qualified was this engineer?

How did the Church embark on an edifice of this size without a permanent or temporal central column is what baffles me!  Were they expecting Angels to support the roof? It is most certain that if the scaffold had been in place the roof would not have collapsed. Reigner’s church was a mouse trap waiting to happen, the roof would have caved in sooner or later the death toll would have been worse. I believe God in his infinite mercy invited the State Governor to  that  event in order to lead the rescue mission with his pool of official vehicles, ambulances and fire engines to salvage the dead and rescue the dying. I shudder to think what would have happened if this tragedy had taken place on a normal Sunday morning service! Akwa Ibom State would have been dead in one day, the death toll unimaginable. It would have been a historic catastrophe!

The myriad of unanswered questions and what people are saying on the street.

There was a week long religious event in Reigner’s Bible Church preceding Pastor Akan Week’s ordination, the central scaffold supporting the roof was in place all through the week, who gave the order to remove the scaffold 24 hrs before ordination was to begin and why was such an order given?  Accusing voices are rising to the surface of this human carnage.

Some people say it was the Reigner’s Church Building committee, others  say it was the State Governor’s protocol unit? Our investigation has ruled out government culpability, this is  what we unearthed. Government  officials were not aware a central scaffold was in place and therefore could not have ordered its removal,   they made enquiries and were not informed of any impending or remote danger. They followed a strict standard protocol and security check, the host informed and assured them events had taken place in the church and the location was safe and secure.

But our  sources have also gone on to inform our team of investigators, that the scaffold was removed for aesthetic purposes to make room for important guests and dignitaries within the Governor’s entourage , both National / International visitors. We have been informed none of these decisions were communicated to or made by the State Government.

Our sources have also informed us, it’s very unlikely the structural engineer took a unilateral decision before removing the scaffold they say the order must have come from the “Top”. Which “Top” is what   we are all asking today. A warrant of arrest has been issued by the State government for the arrest of the lead structural engineer, sources say he was following orders – who gave him the order remains a mystery.

This tragedy could have been worst!

Most of the dignatries were still on their way when they heard the Governor had arrived the venue – Senators, members of the Hiuse of Reps current and past Commissioners, Permanent Secrataries, Local Government Chairmen, Chairmen of boards etc. A lot of these men are old men – how would they have run?  A whole generation of Akwa Ibom leaders would have been wiped out in one day! That is why we can’t treat this incident with levity.

We have seen women crushed with blood soaked entrails oozing from perforated stomachs. We have seen the head of a man split in half on bended knees …praying. We have seen crushed skulls, too numerous to count – like broken red wine goblets shattered – spilling blood on hospital concrete floors. We hear the number of those dying exceed the number of those recovered dead – the figures are rising everyday. We hear the numbers are so terrifying nobody wants to take responsibility. We hear many more still lie crushed calling for help under the church’s gigantic unforgiving steel frames.

Therefore I say to the Akwa Ibom Christian community stop blaming witches and wizards, even their annual festival do not require this much blood.

The demon who gave the order is out there and that demon will soon be revealed, no coverup or out of court settlement will calm this tempest, Nigeria has borne this murderous infrastructural blood ritual for too long.

Justice must now make its call!

Barr. Ata Ikiddeh

Lawyer, Editor-in-Chief, Poet, Human Rights Activist.

ataikiddeh@yahoo.co.uk

2 comments

  1. udo-ekong umo-udofia

    I completely agree. I add to the questions who allowed or insisted that an uncompleted structure be used to host an event those compromising the safety of everyone inside? Who?

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