DMGS Centenary building collapse: Anglican Bishops visit site, pray, sympathize with Diocese, panel of inquiry constituted

Anglican Bishops, Province of the Niger, today, Tuesday, June 18, 2024, made a sympathy visit to the Diocese on the Niger over the Dennis Memorial Grammar School (DMGS) Centenary building collapse in Onitsha, Anambra State, describing the disaster as a very unfortunate experience.

The Bishops called on government to play its role and to have confidence in the Church to carry her along, saying that the church needed protection, dignity and respect.

The delegation led by the Archbishop of the Province, the Most Rev Dr Alexander Ibezim, Bishop of Awka Diocese, had, as early as 9:00 am, converged at the site of the collapsed building where they had extensive chain prayers.

In his speech shortly after the prayers, Archbishop Ibezim explained that the House of Bishops of the province and their parishioners deeply felt the disaster and decided to commiserate with the Diocese on the Niger.

The Archbishop had in his speech explained that because God is always with His people, the tragedy could not go beyond what happened.

He said: “It could have been more devastating because a lot of lives could have been lost. But God is with His people. He did not allow the wishes of our enemies to come to pass.

“Anybody who sees this site will know that God is a living God. And even to say that maybe only one life was lost, shows that this God is a miraculous God. And shows the children schooling here are innocent children. And the teachers are innocent teachers.

“We will, in fact, join the Diocese on the Niger, so that if the Bishop will agree, they will have thanksgiving in all the churches. Just to thank God, because God saved the Church from embarrassing tragedy.

“So we, as the Province, are standing with the Diocese on the Niger, especially during this difficult time. We now stand on the word of God to encourage Bishop Owen and the entire Diocese on the Niger because God has saved us all from embarrassment.”

Responding in a short vote of thanks, the host Bishop, the Rt Rev Dr Owen Nwokolo, had on behalf of the Diocese, the Old Boys and current students of the DMGS commended the Bishops and the entire province for sympathizing with them in their difficult moment.

He appreciated the Bishops for the solidarity visit. He thanked them for the support they extended to the Diocese.

Bishop Nwokolo officially announced that the Diocese, the DMGS authorities and the Old Boys of the school had constituted a strong body of enquiry to ascertain the immediate and remote causes of the collapse of the Centenary building.

He described nine members of the panel as very credible people in building and construction, saying that they were knowledgeable professionals who could not be pushed around.

He said members of the body are Hon. Justice Pete Obiora (Justice of the Appeal Court of Nigeria) as Chairman; Barr Sir Andy Obianwu, Secretary; Arc. Sir Shed Onwuasonya, member; Dr Azuka Onweluzo, member and Egr Ofodile Anieto, member.

Others are Arc Peter Okpala, member; Surveyor Samuel Akabogu, member; Engr Chukwunonso Igboka, member and Arc Kingsley Ibekwe, member.

According to the Bishop, among the terms of reference for the panel were
to examine the administrative and technical processes followed during the building to ensure that proper procedures were followed.

Others are to study the building plans to ensure that they met the expected standards, and to enquire whether approval was sought and obtained from the approving authority for the building to proceed.

He said that they should enquire whether the architectural design of the building was by a qualified architect registered with Architects Registration Council of Nigeria and to find out whether the structural design of the building was by a structural engineer registered with COREN.

The panel should as well ascertain whether the building was properly supervised during the actual construction of the project.

The Bishop said that the panel had one month to submit its report, adding that if the body needed extra time, that it would be granted.

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