The Akwa Ibom State government says it has spent a total of N300 million as medical bills for victims of the Reigners Bible Church building collapse that occurred December 2016.
The state Health Commissioner, Dominic Ukpong, disclosed this on Thursday in Uyo, the state capital, while presenting cheques to the proprietors of the various hospitals that assisted in the treatment of the victims.
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the church building collapsed during the bishopric consecration service of the founder of the church, Apostle Akan Weeks, with Gov. Udom Emmanuel in attendance.
Mr. Ukpong said that a total of 168 victims were evacuated from the scene of the unfortunate incident out of which 30 worshipers had been confirmed death at the last count.
“On December 10, 2016, a tragedy befell this state, a clergyman was about to be ordained as a bishop, unfortunately the roof of the church caved in.
“The state governor, who was in attendance, escaped unhurt while 18 persons were crushed to death on the spot.
“Many injured people were moved to hospitals, majority of the injured were moved by kindhearted Nigerians; we had mobilised only four ambulances, we want to say thank you all Nigerians.
“I want to give credit to all Nigerians, I express my gratitude to you all on behalf the state governor, for standing with us at that moment of grief,” Mr. Ukpong said.
Mr. Ukpong said that a total of 14 hospitals were involved in the treatment and care of the victims, most of which were private hospitals.
The commissioner said that the state governor was impressed with the different hospitals that heeded his plea to treat the victims without any payment.
Mr. Ukpong said that the church collapse incident happened at the time the state was financially hard up.
“Thank you for being patient with the state government, standing with the state government at that critical time.
“The oath of medical practice requires that we make sacrifice, I thank you for the extra sacrifice you made at the time this state faced one of its greatest challenges,” Mr. Ukpong said.
Responding on behalf of the hospitals that received the cheques, the Medical Director of Uwakmfon Clinic, Uyo, Emmanuel Effiong, thanked the state government for paying the bills.
Mr. Effiong said that the proprietors of the private hospitals were willing to cooperate with the government and save lives in the state.
“We thank the Health Commissioner for keeping faith with the private hospitals by the bills incurred during the church collapse incident,” he said.
In his remark, the proprietor of Resurrection Clinic, Uyo, Memfin Ekpo, a professor of Pathology, noted that the number of medical specialists in the state was too small.
Ekpo, who is the former provost, College of Health Science, University of Uyo, thanked the state government for paying the medical bills for the victims of the church collapse.