Uyo church Tragedy: My original design was altered, says Architect

Chidi Tony

The architect who designed the plan for the collapsed Reigners’ Bible Church, Mr. Abimbola Oke, said before the Commission of Inquiry in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State on Monday that he stands by his original design for the church.

Oke, who was cross-examined by the commission’s counsel, Mr. Friday Oke, stated that when he visited the site to check on the church’s founder and General Overseer, Apostle Akan Weeks, he noticed that the design had been altered.

According to him, during his visit, he told Weeks that what was implemented was at variance with the original design, adding that he urged him on the importance of adhering to the original design.

Oke, who is also a lecturer in the University of Uyo, explained that when he observed the building, he also noticed that not all the structural elements had been put in place including the gallery floor.

He said that he did not supervise the building project as had been alleged, noting that if he did, the church would have paid for it, having given the church a design that worths N11.5m for free.

Asked why he chose to give out the service with such amount of money for free, Oke answered that, “That is not the first time I’m doing that kind of a thing; it is my belief that God can bless me; it is my act of service to God, and it has been proven over and over again.”

When asked if he designed the roof and the trusses, Oke replied that he was not the person who designed the roof and the trusses.

“Apostle Akan Weeks asked me to design a round or diagonal 5,000 sitting capacity auditorium plan for him. After the design, I took it to him and he said it was all right. As regards altering the design, I did not redesign any part of the building. I stand by my original design which included the basement floor.

“The apostle later asked me if I could supervise the building, but the church’s building committee chairman reacted to it by saying that they were going to build their church by themselves.

“Afterwards I visited Weeks at certain point in time and told him that what was in the design was not implemented. I also informed him of the importance of adhering to the original design,” he said.

Oke added that he understood that the site was sloping and that was why he introduced the basement floor to suit the site.

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